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Course Guide: WR121 - Joye Otto

MLA Style | 4 Basic Moves for In-Text Citations

Use this when you can't improve on the author's meaning by changing their words; or when the author's words are so good, you don't want to change them.

  • According to recent research, "water levels in the north lobe have risen by nearly 7 feet, salinity has stabilized, and many species of fish have returned" (Witman 14)
  • Cain concludes her essay, saying, "love is essential; gregariousness is optional" (264).

Summary / Paraphrase:
Use this when you want to represent the main ideas of a source, or when the original wording is too complicated, too detailed, or too long. Write in your own voice, while fairly representing the source.

  • Witman describes how the Aral Sea is being restored, and notes that water levels are rising (14).
  • We must have love, but the company of others is something we can take or leave (Cain 264).
"They Say / I Say" Templates

Introducing standard views:

  • Americans today tend to believe that        .
  • Conventional wisdom claims that        .

Summarizing an author:

  • X acknowledges that        .
  • X agreed that        .
    • Other verbs might include argues, complains, demonstrates, emphasizes, and so on.

Introducing quotations:

  • X insists, "       ".
  • As the prominent philosopher X puts it, "       ".
  • In her book, Book Title, X maintains that, "       ".
  • X complicates matters further when he writes that, "       ".

Introducing something implied or assumed:

  • Although X does not say so directly, she apparently assumes that        .
  • While X rarely admits as much, he often takes for granted that        .

Introducing an ongoing debate:

  • On the one hand, X argues        . On the other hand, Y claims        . My own view is        .
  • In a long-accepted argument, X argues        , but Y and others disagree because        . In fact, Y’s argument that         is now supported by new research showing that        .
  • As I suggested earlier, defenders of         can’t have it both ways. Their assertion that         is contradicted by their claim that        .

Disagreeing, with evidence:

  • I think that X is mistaken because she overlooks        .
  • I disagree with X’s view that         because, as recent research has shown,        .
  • X’s claim that         rests upon the questionable assumption that        .

Adapted with changes by Chris Hunter from: Graff, Gerald and Cathy Birkenstein. They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. New York: Norton, 2010.

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