Why is it important to conclude a paragraph with the writer’s voice rather than a quote or paraphrase?

Although quotations or paraphrased material from reliable sources are often used to add credibility and to support a writer’s ideas, the focus of the paper should remain on the writer’s voice and his or her own agency as a writer.

Credible evidence should be provided to support the points a writer makes, but source material should not overshadow the writer’s voice. Each paragraph’s conversation should be directed by and concluded with the writer’s own voice, not by another author’s words.

How can a paragraph be effectively concluded with the writer’s voice?

Conclude with at least one sentence after the quote or paraphrase that wraps up the paragraph’s main point and connects the voices of the writer and the quoted or paraphrased source:

  • Look for key words in the quote or paraphrase that can be reiterated effectively in the concluding sentence(s).
  • Look for connections and reasonable conclusions that can be made as a result of weaving the writer’s and quoted or paraphrased material’s ideas together.
  • Look for ways to link the quote or paraphrase to the purpose of the paragraph and/or the thesis of the paper.
  • Look for nuances in the quote or paraphrase that could be used to help create a transition to the next paragraph.

Let’s look at an example:

Main point of the paragraph: Plastics and plastic waste are found nearly everywhere in America, but only a small percentage are recycled.

Quotation: “Only 8% of the total plastic waste generated in 2010 was recovered for recycling” (“Plastics”). [1]

Example of a student writer’s paragraph:

Consumer goods made of recyclable plastic are utilized in a variety of ways by most Americans on a daily basis. Plastics are frequently encountered in marketplaces, restaurants, workplaces, schools, and in homes; these plastics may take the form of shopping bags, plastic packaging, food containers, or beverage bottles, among countless others. Since many of these recyclable plastics are disposable, consumers must decide whether to simply throw them away or place them in a collection container that will be taken to a recycling facility. Of these disposable plastics, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that “[o]nly 8% of the total plastic waste generated in 2010 was recovered for recycling” (“Plastics”).

Note: Here, the reader is left with a quote generated by the EPA. Though this statistic from a reliable source supports the writer’s point, the quotation creates an abrupt end to the paragraph and leaves the source’s voice speaking.

Suggested ending sentences:

This statistic suggests that American consumers did not recycle the majority of the plastic waste generated in 2010. To target this non-recycling population, recycling campaigns aimed at raising the percentage of plastic waste that is recycled in the future could be initiated.

Note: Here, the suggested sentences use key words from the quote (plastic waste and recycled). One sentence draws a simple conclusion based on the information in the quotation, and the other offers a suggested action in response to the statistic.

[1] “Plastics.” EPA. U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, 16 Apr. 2012. Web. 26 Apr. 2012.