Skip to Main Content

GEOG 100: Course Guide (Gosia): Using Sources

This course guide is intended to help students in Gosia Bryja's GEOG 100 class with their research.

Summarizing, Paraphrasing & Quoting

A summary is a condensed version of information from another source. Summaries usually highlight the main points discussed in a source.

When you summarize:

  • Keep your summary brief. Summaries should be much shorter than the original source.
  • Stick to just the main points.
  • Make sure your summary is in your own words.

A paraphrase is a restatement of another author's ideas in your own words. 

When you paraphrase:

  • First read the original passage a few times to make sure you understand what the author is saying. 
  • Change both the sentence structure and the words used.
  • Avoid switching out words with synonyms as this can create unnatural sounding sentences.
  • Reread your paraphrased passage to make sure you are accurately expressing the original author's points.
  • Make sure the paraphrased sentence reads smoothly and makes sense.

​When taking notes, try to paraphrase important passages immediately, rather than writing down direct quotes. Students often forget that what they have written down is a quote, and this can lead to unintentional plagiarism.

Quotes are a word-for-word copy of what another author said.

When you quote:

  • Make sure quotes are contained in "quotation marks."
  • Make sure you don't over-rely on quotes! Your paper should mostly be your own original ideas. Use quotes only to illustrate your point.
  • Use quotes from experts, not from unreliable sources
  • If you have to change a word within a quotation, put the changed word in square brackets.

General Tips

  • Your research paper needs to provide a balance between outside sources and your own original ideas. 

  • When you paraphrase, summarize or quote another author, their ideas should be connected to your own.

See OWL Purdue's sample summary, paraphrase and quotation from an essay to get a better sense of how you can use sources in your own paper. 

Signal Phrases

  • Use signal phrases to introduce a paraphrase, summary or quotation, such as "according to," "argues," "contends,"or "states."

After a quotation, summary or paraphrase, explain why the source is significant or how the idea relates to your own argument.