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Tackling Information Problems (TIP): Incorporate information into your text

Information Literacy tutorial for undergraduate students

Incorporate information into your text

The work of other authors can provide you with information, evidence and ideas, but must be incorporated into your work carefully. Quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing are all different ways of including information from sources in your text.

There are three different techniques you can use to incorporate ideas from a source into your writing:


Quoting (or quoting directly) is reproducing the exact words of another author.

Use direct quotations:

  • when the exact words used by the author are essential to convey meaning, e.g. in case of a definition or a specific term created by the author;
  • to present a particularly concise, characteristic or eloquent passage.

Use direct quotations sparingly. When you use a lot of quotations in your work, your lecturere may feel that you do not fully understand the subject matter.


Paraphrasing is rewriting an author’s ideas in your own words. A paraphrase is usually about the same length as the original passage.

Use paraphrases:

  • to present a position or argument to comment on (and you want to maintain the same level of detail as the original passage);
  • when the exact language of the passage is not significant (and therefore quoting is not required).

When paraphrasing, you must fully REPHRASE the language and CHANGE the original sentence structure! Avoid ‘close paraphrasing’: copying whole sentences and only changing a few words. This is considered plagiarism, which is a serious academic offense.


Summarizing is putting the main points of a larger text into your own words.

Use summaries:

  • to support arguments;
  • when a higher level of detail is not required (e.g., when you introduced the main ideas of the source earlier in the text).

A useful resource about  the basics of quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing is the library's tutorial on citing and plagiarism RefCite

Be aware of plagiarism!

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the presentation of someone else's work as your own. 

In the world of cut and paste, it's incredibly easy to commit plagiarism and not even be aware of doing so. Regardless of whether it is intentional or unintentional, plagiarism is dishonest and unethical.

When you don't need to cite

Only information considered to be universally common knowledge, such as dates of important events and widely known facts, can be used without citing the source.