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Writing Tips: Home

Step One: Read

  1. Read the articles! You'll have a much easier time in the end if you take the time to carefully read articles at the beginning.
  2. Mark-up the main concepts, facts, ideas, and arguments. Look for:
    • what seems important or meaningful to you (don't just underline something because it sounds important!)
    • points you could explain or share
    • points that you want clarified
  3. Look for relationships between different works. Begin to identify emerging themes and topics between sources.

Step Two: Write in Your Own Words

Writing in your own words using academic sources is an important, but difficult, skill. Summarizing and paraphrasing are two writing techniques that don’t involve direct quotes.

Summarizing captures the big picture and lets your reader know generally what a source said.

You can paraphrase more specific ideas or points made by an author, but using your own words instead of theirs.

Summarized and paraphrased materials do need citations, just like quotes. After all, you’re referencing someone else’s ideas – and it’s the thought that counts when it comes to plagiarism.

Strategies for writing in your own words include:

  • taking notes while reading without using the same words or phrases as the original author,
  • writing without looking back at the original source,
  • and comparing your writing to the original source once you have a draft.

For more information about the difference between quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing, check out the Purdue OWL guide.


Driscoll, D.L & Brizee, A. (2013, February 15). Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing. Retrieved from

Step 3: Get Help

Need help writing your paper? The USU Writing Center can help.

The Writing Center offers face-to-face and online tutoring sessions at a variety of locations and times that fit your schedule. It's easy to make an appointment online.

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