Leadership Communication Skills Center

Marine Corps University Communications Style Guide


When writing an academic paper, you typically will include outside source material to add depth or support to your argument or position. You should properly cite these sources to demonstrate that they are not your ideas, but that they belong to others contributing to your research field. Properly citing sources is important not only because it will help you to avoid plagiarism but also because it will allow you to provide attribution for the claims you make in the paper and form a jumping-off point where you can discuss gaps or inconsistencies in previous research. This chapter provides strategies for incorporating outside source material in your writing and includes an overview of Chicago Manual of Style methods of documenting quoted, paraphrased, and summarized information. This chapter includes a discussion of citing summarized, paraphrased, and directly quoted material in your writing; format styles for notes and bibliographies; an explanation of the university’s academic integrity policy; and strategies for avoiding plagiarism. Note: chapter 9 provides guidance regarding Chicago Manual of Style endnote and bibliography formats, but students should review chapter 8 to ensure understanding of basic citation practices before consulting chapter 9.


CSG 8.1 Why Use Sources in Your Writing?

Using sources in your writing may enrich your draft in a variety of ways. The term source may refer to a variety of objects, writings, or experiences that provide information about or comment on your topic. Sources include personal interviews and correspondences, maps, newspaper articles, personal observations of a situation or object, journal articles, books, government documents, websites, or any other item that may inform your subject. Writing with sources enriches your work because it helps to provide a context for the reader. Sources may substantiate a point you make in the paper, present alternative points of view, elaborate on the type of research that has preceded your discussion of the topic, or provide data to inform your topic. Though you may choose to incorporate sources in your work for a variety of reasons, below are the four most common uses of outside sources.

1. Sources are used to provide evidence that supports the paper’s claims.

Example: the espoused beliefs of the 3d Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, manifested themselves in the form of artifacts. Good performance was rewarded with hunting knives to underscore the “predator-prey” metaphors. “Kill Boards” were established to tally the number of civilian and enemy targets killed in action, and Charlie Company (the unit involved in the incident of 9 May) had assumed the moniker of “Kill Company.” These artifacts in no way referenced the proud heritage of the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment (Rakkasans) or the U.S. Army, and they only served to further the process of dehumanization of both the Iraqis and the soldiers themselves.

2. Sources are used to lend credibility to the paper’s claims.

Example: repeated and prolonged ingestion of carbohydrates, particularly high glycemic index foods such as wheat, causes fat storage in the worst places—around the organs—which can result in type 2 diabetes. William Davis, MD, states when fat accumulates due to insulin, fat is stored on the liver, kidneys, pancreas, intestines, and the heart. Further, in his article “Establishment of a Concept of Visceral Fat Syndrome and Discovery of Adiponectin,” Yuji Matsuzawa demonstrates that excess fat around the organs releases abnormal inflammatory signals into the bloodstream, resulting in abnormal hormone responses. Visceral fat reduces the body’s ability to fight against inflammation, which can result in diabetes, heart disease, and other inflammatory diseases such as dementia, rheumatoid arthritis, and colon cancer.

3. Sources are used to explore earlier arguments and perspectives on the same topic.

Example: Riordan Roett and Guadalupe Paz, Brookings Institution editors of China’s Expansion into the Western Hemisphere, present viewpoints from both skeptical intellectuals and those who feel China’s interests in Latin America are more benign. Roett and Paz take the view that China understands the skepticism surrounding its interests in Latin America and China and believe that transparency will be the most beneficial course of action for everyone involved.

4. Sources are used to provide counterarguments. (See chapter 3 for more information about crafting effective counterarguments.)

Example: according to Army General Lloyd J. Austin III, commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), the military campaign against Daesh in Iraq and Syria is “having the desired effects,” forcing it into a “defensive crouch . . . unable to achieve decisive effects.” Despite this positive assessment, Daesh remains active in Iraq and Syria, and the United States appears some way from achieving its objective to defeat Daesh.


When writing with sources, remember your own ideas and insights must drive your text. Although other researchers and authors may offer credible additions to your argument, your voice and opinions should be the focus of any argument or persuasive piece of writing. Regardless of how you incorporate outside sources into your writing, it is essential to provide proper attribution for all outside source material to avoid plagiarism—the practice of presenting someone else’s ideas or words (intellectual property) as your own.


CSG 8.2 Recognizing Common Knowledge: When Is Citation Unnecessary?

As a general guideline, you should use a citation any time you borrow someone else’s language or ideas. But when do you need to cite factual information? For many students, the line between information that requires citation and common knowledge, which does not need to be cited, is hazy at best.

One way to think about whether something is common knowledge is whether the claim can be contested. For example, if you state in your paper that the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, you do not need to cite your source, as this is a generally accepted fact. However, if you are making a more controversial claim that is not an accepted fact (e.g., the Declaration of Independence was not actually signed until 1780), a citation is necessary. Keep in mind that just because information is new to you does not necessarily mean that it requires a citation. For instance, maybe you were not aware of where and when the Declaration of Independence was signed until reading David McCullough’s 1776; however, because the time and place of the signing are generally seen as uncontested (you can open nearly any historical text or encyclopedia and find the same information), there is no need for a citation.

What qualifies as common knowledge depends on your audience. For instance, if you are writing an article in a peer-reviewed journal, you can assume that most of your readers have had extensive exposure to your topic; thus, fewer citations may be necessary. However, if you are writing for a more general audience, you might need to include citations to reference specialized knowledge. For instance, if you are writing an MOS-specific paper for the wider DOD community, you might need to reference certain statistics and claims that you would not ordinarily reference when writing solely for your own community. Likewise, if you are providing a very specific historic or scientific fact, you will likely want to provide a reference. Consider the claim that “from 10-36 to 10-32 seconds after the Big Bang, the temperature of the universe was low enough (1028 K) that the forces of electromagnetism and weak nuclear forces were able to separate as well, forming two distinct forces.” This highly specialized information is likely to be unfamiliar to anyone who does not have at least some background in astrophysics. Therefore, the information must be cited. Contrast this type of specialized claim with the assertion that the Big Bang hypothesis states that all of the current and past matter in the universe came into existence roughly 13.8 billion years ago. This second claim is relatively generic; it is the type of information you would find in nearly any encyclopedia entry on the Big Bang theory. Therefore, no citation is necessary here, as this information should be considered common knowledge.


CSG 8.3 Plagiarism

Although the concept of intellectual property differs across cultures and nations around the world, in the United States, published writing is the personal property of the author(s). Using someone else’s work or ideas without giving proper credit is treated as theft. As part of your course curriculum at Marine Corps University, you will write at least one research paper in which you will be required to use primary and secondary sources to support your ideas. Citing other authors reinforces your credibility as a writer by demonstrating how your ideas fit into the body of research surrounding your topic. When you use someone else’s words, ideas, visuals, or data, you need to make sure you give proper credit to the original source by using a correctly formatted citation. You should avoid all of the three main types of plagiarism listed below.

1. Plagiarism of language: plagiarism of language refers to the copying an entire phrase or passage (four or more words) without enclosing the borrowed words in quotation marks. It is important to use a signal phrase, quotation marks, and a proper citation to indicate that you have borrowed a particular phrase or passage from another author.

2. Plagiarism of ideas: presenting an individual’s idea, concept, or line of reasoning without giving due credit is considered plagiarism. You can paraphrase the main idea of a paragraph or even an entire paper, but you must use an endnote and corresponding bibliographic citation to reference the original source.

3. Self-plagiarism: self-plagiarism refers to the practice of reusing your own writing by either submitting an article or paper to two different publications or submitting the same paper (or portions of it) for two different course assignments.


Acts of plagiarism—regardless of whether they are intentional—are of great concern to members of the MCU community. For example, having someone write or rewrite a paper for you is a type of academic dishonesty that can be construed as plagiarism. The academic integrity policy at MCU says the following about the use of previous student work in your own writing: “Student learning requires effort. Simply utilizing the solutions devised by students from previous academic years—gleaned from archived school files, library databases, or the internet—as the solution to a problem, exercise, or assignment for credit in the current academic year is academically dishonest.” Marine Corps University students—as members of the Armed Services and government agencies—must uphold values of academic integrity, which include the “belief in academic honesty and an intolerance of acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception.” Acts of plagiarism are not tolerated at the university, and they carry penalties that may include “disenrollment, suspension, denial or revocation of degrees or diplomas, a grade of ‘no credit’ with a transcript notation of ‘academic dishonesty,’ rejection of the work submitted for credit, and a letter of admonishment or other administrative measures.” Students can find MCU’s complete academic integrity policy in the MCU Student Handbook.

To ensure proper treatment of outside source material, students should familiarize themselves with chapters 8 and 9 of The MCU Communications Style Guide. These chapters include guidance for writing with sources and providing proper attribution for all borrowed words and ideas. If you are unsure about whether your use of sources complies with the university’s expectations of academic integrity, you should consult with your faculty advisor or an LCSC faculty member before submitting your work for a grade. Nonresident students should consult the College of Distance Education and Training (CDET) Writing Center for similar guidance.

As you check to ensure you have properly formatted your citations, it is helpful to keep in mind three common ways to use a source in your paper.

1. You can quote a source directly (word for word): generally, you should quote only when the specific language used in the original text is needed.

2. You can paraphrase the ideas in a source: you should typically paraphrase when presenting a general claim or when discussing the main points of short passages.

3. You can summarize the source: you should summarize when explaining basic concepts or when discussing main points of longer texts.


In the following three sections—8.4, 8.5, and 8.6—you will find strategies for avoiding plagiarism through proper attribution and integration of outside source material.


CSG 8.4 Using Direct Quotations

A direct quotation “records the exact language used by someone in speech or in writing.” Any borrowed language must be placed in quotation marks and followed by an endnote. There are two types of quotations you may use in your writing: run-in quotes and block quotes.


CSG 8.4.1 When to Use Quotations

Many writers have the tendency to overuse direct quotations—often because they feel they do not have the writing skills to paraphrase another researcher’s ideas into their own words. While direct quotes can enrich your writing, they should be used sparingly. Concepts, background information, and central themes should typically be paraphrased or summarized; quotes should be used only when the specific language of the quote is essential to your argument. Below are some instances in which direct quotes would likely be more effective than a paraphrase or summary.

1. Use direct quotes when providing established definitions for terms.

Example: Most people assume the words “soul” and “spiritual” have religious connotations; however, the Army has identified them quite differently. The Army defines one’s spiritual dimension in this way: “identifying one’s purpose, core values, beliefs, identity, and life vision define the spiritual dimension. These elements, which define the essence of a person, enable one to build inner strength, make meaning of experiences, behave ethically, persevere through challenges, and be resilient when faced with adversity.”

2. Use direct quotes when the original source contains memorable language that cannot be paraphrased.

Example: The general described the inception of Marine Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) as “painting a car while driving 50 miles per hour.”

3. Use direct quotes when presenting another author or researcher’s specific position on a topic.

Example: Juan Gabriel Tokatlian asserts Latin America has not yet established a “solid, sustainable, and coordinated energy policy that provides the region a fluid, reliable, and secure energy supply.”


CSG 8.4.2 Run-in Quotes

Shorter quotes (quotes of fewer than 100 words or 6–8 lines of text) are typically enclosed in quotation marks and run into the text. Run-in quotes have three main components (detailed in figure 33).

1. A signal phrase that introduces the quoted information

2. Quotation marks that are placed around the borrowed language

3. A superscript (1) and corresponding endnote that follows the citation


Figure 33. Example of run-in quote


CSG 8.4.3 Block Quotes

Block quotes are offset from the text and are typically used when quoting longer pieces of text, though you may choose to use a block quote to call attention to a shorter piece of quoted information. Block quotations should be used sparingly—do not overuse long quotations in your writing. Below are guidelines for using block quotes.

1. Block quotes are used when quoting at least 100 words or if the quoted material takes up at least 6–8 lines of text.

2. A quotation comprising two or more paragraphs in the original source should be set off as a block quote.

3. Quoted letters or other forms of correspondence, bulleted lists, and specifically formatted text should be set off in a block quotation.

4. Block quotes are indented five spaces (tabbed right). If continuing the paragraph after the block quote ends, the line would start flush with the left margin. If starting a new paragraph after the block quote ends, you would indent the following line five spaces or flush with the block quote.

5. Block quotes are not placed in quotation marks since the indent signals to the reader that the information is directly quoted from another source.

6. Block quotes are followed by a superscript endnote and corresponding citation.

7. Typically, a publisher will specify the desired font size and spacing of block quotes; however, LCSC faculty members recommend single spacing the quote and keeping the font of a block quote consistent with the rest of the text.

8. Block quotes, like run-in quotes, should be introduced by a signal phrase and contextualized. Figure 34 provides an example of a block quote.


Figure 34. Example of block quote


CSG 8.4.4 Quoting a Secondary Source (Quote within a Quote)

Peer-reviewed articles will often reference others’ works, either in the form of a paraphrase or a quotation. In some cases, you may wish to reference a particular article, quote, or idea that is paraphrased or quoted in another work. For instance, you may wish to quote David Galula’s ideas about counterinsurgency that are referenced in a secondary source. While scholarly articles will occasionally quote sources within sources, you should first try to consult the original source rather than use a paraphrase from the secondary source. Your interpretation of the source may be different from the secondary source author’s interpretation of the source, and both of your interpretations may not quite match the original author’s intended meaning.


Citing a Secondary Source (Quote within a Quote)

If you cannot consult the original source, your endnote should reference the original source in which the quote is found (to credit the original author) followed by the phrase “quoted in” and the full citation for the work you actually consulted. This practice should be used sparingly, as it is always best to consult the original source when possible. Below is an example of how to cite a source cited within another source.


Format for citing a secondary source:

Example: David Galula states, “which side gives the best protection, which side threatens the most, which one is likely to win; these are the criteria governing the population’s stand.”

Example note:

30 David Galula, Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1964), 8, as quoted in Terence J. Daly, “Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice,” Military Review 86, no. 5 (September/October 2006): 112.


Notice the endnote first credits the original author or speaker; the source that contains the original author’s work follows the citation of the original source. Alternatively, you may decide to paraphrase ideas that are quoted in another source. The treatment of this source would be different if you decided to paraphrase Daly’s interpretation of Galula’s work. Consider the following example:

Example: Daly claims that for Galula, gaining and keeping control of the population is the key to success.

Example note:

31 Terence J. Daly, “Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice,” Military Review 86, no. 5 (September/October 2006): 112.

Example bibliographic reference:

Daly, Terence J. “Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice.” Military Review 86, no. 5 (September/October 2006).


In this case, you do not need to credit Galula, as you are paraphrasing Daly’s interpretation of Galula’s work rather than quoting or paraphrasing a claim or idea that belongs to Galula.


CSG 8.4.5 Modifying Quoted Material

Sometimes you may need to edit words in a quotation to integrate the source material with the rest of your text. To preserve the integrity of the original text, it is important to make sure you acknowledge any changes or omissions you make. Below are some guidelines for editing direct quotes.

1. Editing the format of the text: you are allowed to change quoted material in certain ways to match your paper’s format and sentence structure. For example, you do not have to use the font used in the original source. If all words in the original source are in full capital letters, you can make them lowercase to match proper capitalization guidelines in your paper. In addition, if the original source underlines words or phrases, you can italicize them instead, unless you have a reason to leave them underlined.

2. Omitting words at the beginning of a quoted sentence: if the quotation is still an independent clause (complete sentence) despite the omitted words, capitalize the first word of the edited quotation. Place brackets around the capitalized letter to show the reader that the words preceding the quoted material were omitted. Below is an example of an original quotation and its omitted version.

Original quotation: “There is no constant set of operational techniques in counterinsurgency; rather, this is a form of ‘counter-warfare’ that applies all elements of national power against insurrection.”

Edited quotation: David Kilcullen defines counterinsurgency as follows: “[T]his is a form of ‘counter-warfare’ that applies all elements of national power against insurrection.”


As you can see, brackets enclose the first letter of the word this because the preceding words have been omitted. Brackets might also be used to insert an aside or to add context that might have been omitted by altering the original quote.

If the quote becomes a dependent clause after omitting the additional words, you can combine the quotation with an introductory clause in order to make the sentence complete. Below you will find an example of this practice:

Original quotation: “A militia system also offers many advantages to the small state plagued by chronic, low-level security threats. Israel’s militia system ensures that any limited incursion—even by a band of a few bomb-throwing terrorists—can be contained by the presence of armed citizen-soldiers.”

Edited quotation: Israel’s militia system is favorable to “the small state plagued by chronic, low-level security threats.”


3. Omitting words from the middle or at the end of a quotation: if you introduce a quotation in the middle of a sentence in your own paper (e.g., Clausewitz believes that . . .), and the quotation starts with a capital letter, you should use a lowercase letter to make for correct sentence structure. If the quoted material does not complete the sentence (e.g., As Clausewitz argues . . .), then you should use a capital letter to begin the quotation. When omitting words from the middle or end of a quotation, use an ellipsis to indicate omitted words. When you have omitted words at the end of a sentence, end the sentence with a period and then insert the ellipsis. Below is an example of a quotation that begins in the middle of a sentence and omits words in the middle of a sentence.

Original quotation: “Whether the Founders and subsequent Americans were liberal individualists or republican communitarians, or even driven by racism, I would argue that in the main they were still suspicious of government, skeptical about the benefits of government authority, and impressed with the virtue of limiting government.”

Edited quotation: According to John Kingdon, the founders were “suspicious of government . . . and impressed with the virtue of limiting government.”


You can see here that even though the writer left some details out of the edited quotation, the original author’s meaning does not truly change. The example below shows how to edit a quotation by omitting words from the end.

Original quotation: “Classical counterinsurgency theory posits an insurgent challenge to a functioning (though often fragile) state. The insurgent challenges the status quo; the counterinsurgent seeks to reinforce the state and so defeat the internal challenge. This applies to some modern insurgencies—Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Colombia are examples. But in other cases, insurgency today follows state failure and is not directed at taking over a functioning body politic, but at dismembering or scavenging its carcass, or contesting an ‘ungoverned space.’”

Edited quotation: According to Kilcullen, “Classical counterinsurgency theory posits an insurgent challenge to a functioning (though often fragile state). . . . But in other cases, insurgency today follows state failure, and is not directed at taking over a functioning body politic, but at dismembering or scavenging its carcass, or contesting an ‘ungoverned space’.”


You can see here there are four periods—a period to denote the end of the previous sentence, and three as an ellipsis to indicate there is material omitted. Additional guidelines demonstrate how to effectively incorporate sources into your paper. For example, if you want to denote typographic errors in an original source, you would use the Latin abbreviation [sic], meaning “thus” or “such as” to indicate a misspelling in the source. Similarly, if the original text contains bold or italicized words for emphasis and you wish to keep those words emphasized, add a note [emphasis in original] to let the reader know the emphasis was added by the text’s original author. For more information and additional guidelines for editing quotations, see The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition.


CSG 8.4.6 Epigraphs

You may see a book, paper, or chapter open with a quote that is relevant to the text, otherwise known as an epigraph. Though rare, section titles may begin with epigraphs. Below are a few guidelines for using epigraphs.

1. The Chicago Manual of Style allows for some flexibility with regard to the text formatting of an epigraph (e.g., font size, italics, bold). However, all epigraphs should use the same formatting throughout the paper or document.

2. If you plan to discuss your quote extensively in the main text, the quote should be placed in the text as opposed to being formatted as an epigraph.

3. Typically, only the author’s name and title of the quoted document are included on the line following the epigraph. The name and work are sometimes preceded by a dash. The source of the epigraph should be flush right.

4. Epigraphs are not placed in quotation marks unless the quotation itself contains other quoted material (a quote within a quote).


Below is an example epigraph.

The movements which work revolutions in the world are born out of the dreams and visions in a peasant’s heart on the hillside.                 

~ James Joyce, Ulysses


CSG 8.4.7 Common Problems with Direct Quotes

The four most common quotation problems the LCSC faculty find in student papers are listed below.

1. Failure to use quotation marks: the most frequent problem students tend to have with direct quotes is failing to enclose the borrowed language in quotation marks. Remember, any information that is borrowed word for word from another source must be enclosed in quotation marks. You must use an endnote to cite your source. Below is an example of an improperly cited quotation.

Original source: “Today, many parts of the Al Anbar Province resemble feudalist Europe in the 16th century. When one speaks to tribal leaders there is no perception or understanding of a system where tribes and families are subordinate to the needs of the nation-state. There is no real discourse about national elections, the Iraqi Army, or any other subject that deals with the bureaucracy of the provincial and national governments.”

Improperly cited version: In today’s society, many parts of the al-Anbar Province resemble feudalist Europe in the sixteenth century. When one speaks to tribal leaders there is no perception or understanding of a system where tribes and families are subordinate to the needs of the nation-state.


The writer provides a citation, but without the quotation marks, this citation indicates to the reader only that the ideas in the sentences are borrowed from another text; it does not tell the reader the actual words are borrowed from another text. Therefore, the writer’s use of the information is considered plagiarism. See the properly cited version below.

Properly cited version: According to Edwin O. Rueda in his discussion of similarities between the al-Anbar Province and feudalism in sixteenth century Europe, “There is no real discourse about national elections, the Iraqi Army, or any other subject that deals with the bureaucracy of the provincial and national governments.”


The borrowed text is cited correctly in this case because directly borrowed words from the original source are in quotation marks and are cited with an endnote. Notice the student includes a signal phrase (“According to Edwin O. Rueda”) in his discussion of similarities between the al-Anbar Province and feudalism in sixteenth century Europe to introduce the quote. This signal phrase serves to place the quote in context and allows the writer to connect the quoted information back to the other ideas that are expressed in the writing. When you directly quote outside material, make sure that what you have quoted is accurately stated word for word in your paper, and that both spelling and punctuation match that of the original source.

2. Dropped quotations: The term dropped quote refers to a quotation that is dropped into a text without contextualization or introduction. Below is an example.

Example: Russia sees the world as changed. “International relations are in the process of transition, the essence of which is the creation of a polycentric system of international relations.”

In this example, the author does not introduce or contextualize the quoted information. It is not clear as to whether the quoted information aims to present Russia’s perspective or if it is making a general statement about international relations. Writers can repair dropped quotes by using a signal phrase.

Example quote with signal phrase: Russia sees the world as changed. As such, the 2013 Concept of the Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation states, “International relations are in the process of transition, the essence of which is the creation of a polycentric system of international relations.”


3. Overuse of quotations: overusing quotes can be distracting to your reader and may add unnecessary text to your paper.

Example: By acknowledging that deep strike operations were to become the main tenet of future war, the relevance of uninterrupted logistics sustainment throughout the entire operation was dependent on two things. N. E. Varfolomeev, the first Chair of Operational Art at the Soviet Military Academy, recognized that first, deep and rapid pursuit required the use of “successive deep operations,” which Varfolomeev called “the zig-zags of a whole series of operations successively developed one upon the other, logically connected and linked together by the common final objective.” Second, that zig-zagging process in turn depended on, as Varfolomeev envisioned, the “successful struggle against the consequences of the attendant operational exhaustion.” Jacob W. Kipp then states, “Logistics, the unity of front and rear as an organizational problem, thus assumed critical importance as an aspect of operational art.” In acknowledging the criticality of logistics planning as a mainstay in operational art, the Soviet Military Academy insisted that its officers plan and apply the tenets of operational art through “actual operational-scale wargaming” versus formal lectures and specialized studies. Additionally, Kipp explains, “Each student was expected to apply norms and do calculations that the members of front and army staffs had to do in preparing for an operation.”


While this writer has clearly collected a lot of research, they likely need to rewrite the paragraph to include more analysis. This will mean putting that analysis and some of the facts that are cited into the author’s own words. While integrating the ideas from these sources is important, using the exact language from all of the sources could be confusing and distracting to the reader. This paragraph would be more effective in conveying the author’s ideas if it included paraphrases and summaries of the sources’ main points instead of presenting so many direct quotations.


4. Incorrect punctuation to introduce a quotation: when integrating quoted material into a sentence, the sentence must read grammatically correct. A common student challenge is understanding when to use a comma to signal a quotation. In the case of the example below, when the quoted material is introduced in the middle of the sentence and forms a complete sentence, you do not need a comma or other punctuation mark to signal the quotation. 

Example: Glenn Whitman and Ian Kelleher argue that one’s “intelligence does not reside in one spot in the brain, nor does creativity, but rather involves networks of parts of the brain, all working together.”1

1 Glenn Whitman and Ian Kelleher, Neuroteach: Brain Science and the Future of Education (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016), 16.


CSG 8.5 Paraphrasing

A paraphrase captures the main idea or focus of a particular section or paragraph, but it is considerably different in both word choice and syntax (i.e., sentence structure). The ability to paraphrase is an important skill, as it will allow you to discuss the essence of an author’s work without needing to quote that information verbatim.

When your summary or paraphrase of another author’s work is several sentences long, make sure you use signal phrases and transitions to show you are continuing your discussion of that author’s work (i.e., use these phrases to show the ideas you are presenting are not your own).


CSG 8.5.1 Common Problems with Paraphrasing

When paraphrasing, some writers have the tendency to change only a few of the original source’s words as opposed to putting the original text entirely into their own words. This can lead to charges of plagiarism. Below is an example of an improperly paraphrased text followed by a corrected version of the paraphrase.

Original source: “In most wars, the same laws and principles hold equally true for both contending sides. What varies is the way each opponent uses them, according to his ability, his particular situation, his relative strength. Conventional war belongs to this general case. Revolutionary war, on the other hand, represents an exceptional case not only because, as we suspect, it has its special rules, different from those of the conventional war, but also because most of the rules applicable to one side do not work for the other. In a fight between a fly and a lion, the fly cannot deliver a knockout blow and the lion cannot fly. It is the same war for both camps in terms of space and time, yet there are two distinct warfares—the revolutionary’s and, shall we say, the counterrevolutionary’s.”

Incorrectly paraphrased source: Most of the time, the same laws and principles are true for both contending sides. What varies is the way each opponent uses them, according to his ability, situation, or relative strength. This is the case with conventional war. On the other hand, revolutionary war is an exceptional case whose rules are different from those of the conventional war. The rules that apply to one side may not necessarily work for the other.


The paraphrase above copies much of the wording from the original text, which means it could be considered plagiarism (even though the writer provides an endnote to cite the original source). In this case, the writer could either 1) significantly revise the word choices used so the excerpt no longer copies the original author’s syntax and style, or 2) directly quote the information as opposed to paraphrasing. The following is an example of how the student writer might revise this paraphrase in order to avoid plagiarism.

Correctly paraphrased source: According to David Galula, most wars are conventional wars in which both sides adhere to the same laws and principles; however, both sides will differ in the way they use these laws and principles. In contrast, revolutionary war presents its own special set of rules. Galula further states that while the rules and principles of war may apply to one side, they do not necessarily apply to the other. In revolutionary war, the two sides may experience the war the same, but they will fight differently in order to capitalize on their individual strengths.


When comparing the original source with the paraphrase, you can see the word choice, order, and sentence structure are quite different. Notice, however, an endnote is still used to give credit to the original author for the borrowed ideas. Paraphrasing can help you avoid using long, wordy direct quotations in your paper, as readers often find these distracting and nonessential to read. Summarizing longer quotations and concepts from an outside source can strengthen your argument and give you credibility.


CSG 8.6 Summarizing

A summary is a brief synopsis of a longer text; it should be written in your own words and should present the central idea(s) discussed in the source text, but it should not provide minor details. While a paraphrase focuses on a specific section of a text (a paragraph or a page), a summary may be a brief explanation of an entire book or article. Therefore, a summary needs to be even more concise and focused than a paraphrase and must be free of all unnecessary details.

Summaries are particularly important when you are comparing several perspectives or theories on the same subject, or when you have limited space and time to provide information. For instance, you may provide your supervisor with a 1-page summary of a 200-page report, or you may write a paragraph that presents the main themes discussed in a 20-page research article. Below is an example of a summary of a book.

Example: In 2003, scholars P. Christopher Early and Soon Ang introduced the concept of Cultural Intelligence (CQ), which they and author Linn Van Dyne define “as the capability of an individual to function effectively in situations characterized by cultural diversity.” Early and Ang developed CQ to answer the question of why some people are more effective in cross-cultural environments than others, and to provide a model through which to train people in cross-cultural competencies. At the time of introduction, globalization, greater levels of interconnectedness, and ongoing ideological conflicts made understanding culture and improving cross-cultural interaction all the more important.


In this example, the author uses a combination of directly quoted information and summarized information to present only the main points of the text. Overall, summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting are good ways to effectively incorporate outside sources into your paper. Worksheet 6 provides a checklist for using these different types of sources effectively. Worksheet 7 provides a checklist for avoiding plagiarism.


Worksheet 6. Checklist for using your sources effectively

1. Make sure your sources and paraphrases play a supporting role to your own ideas. When you write a research paper, you need to make an original argument based on the research you conduct—your sources merely provide evidence and specific examples to support that argument.

2. Avoid quoting if paraphrasing will suffice. Exact wording may be important at times, especially when you are discussing doctrine, legislation, or another researcher’s exact position on a topic. You do not need to quote well-known facts, truths, and adages, however. Be selective about the material you choose to quote directly, and avoid the practice of using a quotation simply because you feel the author expressed a particular concept or idea better than you could. Remember, your instructors want to know what you think, and they want to hear your voice.

3. Make sure to place all quotations into the context of your paper and main argument. Introduce each quotation and explain its significance (e.g., who said it, how it relates to your research, and why it is important).

4. Avoid back-to-back quotations. Placing one quotation directly after another does not give you the chance to fully explain the first quotation before moving on to the next statement. Adding details, explaining concepts, and relating quoted ideas back to your main argument shows you have original ideas and have done enough reading on the topic to discuss it fully.

5. When multiple sources make the same claim, group them together. For example, instead of saying, “General X believes it is important to employ the concept of Distributed Operations in current and future conflicts. General Y thinks Distributed Operations should be used in current and future conflicts,” you may want to say, “According to Generals X and Y, future operations should employ the concept of Distributed Operations.” Section 8.8 provides guidance for citing a single claim that is substantiated by multiple sources.

6. If you are quoting at least one hundred words, or if the quoted material takes up at least six to eight lines in the original source, you need to use block quotation format. You should set off multiple paragraphs, quoted letters or other forms of correspondence, bulleted lists, and specially formatted information in block quotation format as well. Block quotations do not need quotation marks; instead, indent the entire quotation five spaces or one tab space from the left margin. If the quoted material is more than one paragraph long, the beginning of each paragraph should have an additional first-line indent (one more tab right). Additionally, you need to provide an endnote to cite the quotation.


Worksheet 7. Checklist for avoiding plagiarism

1. Take detailed notes. Make sure that you differentiate between your own ideas and the ideas presented in your supporting research. Additionally, it is important to set off any direct quotations in quotation marks.

2. Put your research away. It is easier to accidentally copy an author’s ideas, words, or writing style when you are trying to read your research and formulate ideas for drafting simultaneously.

3. Always double-check your draft. Make sure you have used a properly formatted endnote to credit any outside sources you have quoted, summarized, or paraphrased. Additionally, make sure your research paper includes a bibliography in which you will cite all the sources you have compiled to support your ideas. For more information about formatting endnotes and bibliography entries, see chapter 9.

4. Use plagiarism detection software (e.g., Moodle and Turnitin) to check your draft. Plagiarism detection sites have access to a wide variety of sources and have an incredibly high probability of catching plagiarized work, whether intentional or unintentional.


CSG 8.7 Overview of CMOS Citation and Documentation

When you incorporate outside source material into your paper, The Chicago Manual of Style recommends that you use endnotes to provide attribution for any quoted, paraphrased, or summarized information. All quoted, paraphrased, and summarized information in the text should be followed by an Arabic numeral in superscript (1), and the publication information for the corresponding source is then placed on the notes page at the end of the document. The easiest way to ensure endnote superscripts match up with the notes at the end of your document is to use Microsoft Word’s automatic endnote function. Appendix B provides a visual chart with step-by-step instructions for generating endnotes.

Below is an example of what an endnote citation looks like in the document’s main text:

Example: Warfighting (MCDP-1) defines war as “a violent clash of interests between or among organized groups characterized by the use of military force.”1


The example above presents the way in which quoted material is treated in the main text of the paper. Below is the endnote that provides all of the publication information for the cited source. The endnote citations will appear at the end of your document prior to the bibliography.

1 Warfighting, MCDP-1 (Washington, DC: Headquarters Marine Corps, 1991), 3.


If quoting two separate sources within one sentence, each quotation should be immediately followed by its own numeric superscript, as shown in the example below.

Example: Similar to how Warfighting (MCDP-1) defines war as “a violent clash of interests between or among organized groups characterized by the use of military force,”1 Clausewitz characterizes war as “an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfill our will.”2

1 Warfighting, MCDP-1 (Washington, DC: Headquarters Marine Corps, 1991), 3.

2 Carl von Clausewitz, On War, ed. and trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984), 75.

When paraphrasing or summarizing material from an outside source, the note numbers should be placed at the end of the paraphrased or summarized sentence. Note that a signal phrase (e.g., According to Wolf and Lefevre) is used to introduce the material below. Signal phrases often indicate where a particular piece of information is coming from (who said or wrote it) and connect the quoted information back to the paragraph’s central theme.

Example: According to Wolf and Lefevre, the Arab Spring had several negative side effects. Using post-revolution Tunisia as an example, the authors highlight the country’s serious economic recession, increase in unemployment, rise in housing and food costs, reduction in tourism, and increase in inflation. They further claim these factors had a particularly damaging effect on Tunisia’s youth population.1

Example note: 1Anne Wolf and Raphael Lefevre, “Revolution under Threat: The Challenges of the Tunisian Model,” Journal of North African Studies 17, no. 3 (June 2012): 560, https://doi.org/10.1080/13629387.2012.686298.


While CMOS does have an author-date citation style that is used in the physical, natural, and social sciences, the papers students write at Marine Corps University will typically use endnotes and a bibliography unless students are otherwise instructed by a faculty member or publisher.

The endnote format you follow will depend on the type of source you are citing; each type of source has its own format. You will find examples of these endnote formats in chapter 9.


CSG 8.8 Substantiating a Claim with Multiple Citations

The placement and format of the note is different when two sources are substantiating a similar idea. This typically occurs when you are presenting a literature review of your topic in which you are required to summarize or paraphrase some of the main perspectives in your field of study. To show that the perspectives you present are prevalent throughout the research community, you may decide you need to include more than one source to substantiate some of the claims you are summarizing or paraphrasing. In the following example, the author has two sources that substantiate the same claim. As such, both sources are cited within one single endnote in the order that the information was presented in the text. The two sources cited in the endnote are separated by a semicolon (;).

Example: Built on current coalitions, Alexander and Zakheim agree the United States should use diplomatic and military power to influence Sunni-dominated states; this will help to foster regional responsibility and Sunni inclusiveness in the containment against ISIS.1

Example note: 1 John B. Alexander, “Defeating ISIS without American Ground Forces,” Huffington Post, 23 February 2015; and Dov S. Zakheim, “The Best Strategy to Handle ISIS: Good Old Containment,” National Interest, 24 September 2014.


CSG 8.9 Substantive (Discursive) Notes and Notes with Commentary

When you want to add extra material (your own discussion) into an endnote to give readers more information, you do so after you write the citation. A period separates the citation from the additional material. This type of citation is often referred to as a discursive or substantive endnote. Discursive endnotes can enrich your writing by adding details you might not necessarily want to include in the main text of your paper; however, information that is essential to your argument should still be placed in the main text of your paper as opposed to in the endnotes. Keep in mind that adding too many discursive endnotes might be distracting to your reader, so you should use them sparingly. Below is an example where only discursive material is added in the citation (e.g., if the author has knowledge of the topic that they did not obtain from an outside source).

Example: The current number of deployed U.S. advisors, Peshmerga brigades, and ISF may not be sufficient to recapture key terrain, such as the symbolic city of Mosul.1

Example discursive note: 1 The city of Mosul is a key objective for an offensive against entrenched ISIL fighters that will require a major effort for the coalition. In comparison, about 9,000 U.S. Marines recaptured the city of Fallujah, which is one-tenth the size of Mosul. While not always possible to base current strategy on historical examples, it is clear the Coalition needs a larger force to recapture Mosul.


There may be times when the discussion within the discursive note includes a reference to another published work or a quotation. According to The Chicago Manual of Style, “When a note contains not only the source of a fact or quotation in the text but related substantive material as well, the source comes first.” The endnote presented in the example below includes a source citation ending with a period and followed by a summary of the source. You might use this type of note if you wish to include more detailed information about your topic, but you have a limited amount of space within which to discuss your topic.

Example: 1 “Strategic Airlift: Giving Alliance Forces Global Reach,” North Atlantic Treaty Organization, 11 July 2014. Despite the fact that some of these partner nations can access Boeing C-17 Globemaster III transport aircrafts within the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC), Germany competes with its partners over the Russian Antonov An-124-100 in the case of a crisis.


In some cases, you may wish to directly quote information that substantiates ideas you present in the main text of the paper. Below is an example of how you might treat a discursive endnote that includes a direct quote.

Example: Graduate-level writing prompts are complex and often require a writer to perform multiple cognitive tasks at once.1

Example note: 1 Andrea Hamlen, Stase Rodebaugh, and Linda Di Desidero, The Marine Corps University Communications Style Guide, 7th ed. (Quantico, VA: Marine Corps University, 2013), 83. Students at MCU “will often have to perform more than one cognitive task (i.e., evaluating, synthesizing, analyzing) when answering a test question or writing prompt.”


CSG 8.10 Endnotes versus Footnotes

Occasionally, texts that contain a great deal of discursive notes will use both endnotes and footnotes. In this case, endnotes are typically used when a standard citation (publication information only) is included, while footnotes may be used when you write discursive notes—information that you wish to include in addition to the text. If you choose to use the dual system of notes, you will want to include two different sets of note numbers. In this case, the endnotes are frequently numbered using Arabic numerals (1, 2, and 3), while the footnotes use Roman numerals (i, ii, and iii).


CSG 8.11 Shortened Citations

After you first reference a work in an endnote, it is acceptable to use a secondary or shortened citation with only the author’s last name, title of the work, and the page number. If you use more than one work by the same author, agency, or organization, use a short title in each subsequent reference as well. Typically, a shortened citation form includes the author’s last name, a shortened form of the title (if the title contains more than four words), and the page number, if applicable. Below is an example of a shortened citation.

First note: Joseph D. Douglass Jr., Soviet Military Strategy in Europe (New York: Pergamon Press, 1980), 198–99.

Shortened version: Douglass, Soviet Military Strategy, 202.


Below is an example of a shortened citation for a work with three authors.

First note: Waldemar Erfurth, Stefan Possony, and Daniel Vilfroy, Surprise (Harrisburg, PA: Military Service Publishing, 1943), 18.

Shortened version: Erfurth, Possony, and Vilfroy, Surprise, 22.


When citing a source with four or more authors, provide only the last name of the first author, followed by et al. (just as you would do for the long version of the citation).

First note: Doug Suisman et al., The Arc: A Formal Structure for a Palestinian State (Santa Monica, CA: Rand, 2007), 16.

Shortened Version: Suisman et al., The Arc, 32.


A note about ibid: Previously, when referring to a work that is cited in the note immediately preceding, the abbreviation ibid. (Latin for “in the same place”) was used. In the most current version of CMOS, however, the use of ibid. is discouraged in favor of the shortened citation version described above. The reason for this, according to the CMOS 17th edition, is (1) that ibid. does not save a significant enough amount of space to warrant its use and (2) that it could potentially confuse readers, most of whom are no longer familiar with Latin terms. Consult your individual instructor to determine their preferences.


CSG 8.12 Bibliography

The bibliography is an alphabetical listing of the sources you consulted and cited in the writing of your paper. Typically, the bibliography is the last item in an academic paper; it should begin on its own page following the endnotes. Be aware that some source types are included only in the notes section of the paper and do not need to appear in the bibliography. Some of these source types include personal interviews, websites, and certain legal citations. Chapter 9 provides more guidance with regard to whether or not a source type requires a bibliography entry.

While the purpose of your endnotes is to provide attribution for quoted, paraphrased, and summarized information you include in the body of the paper, the bibliography provides the reader with an alphabetical list of all the sources you used. Readers may review your bibliography to determine whether they want to read the full text of your paper. You may examine other authors’ bibliographies during the research process to determine whether a piece of writing is scholarly, current, and relevant. For instance, if you notice all of a work’s citations are five years old and you are writing about an emerging technology, it is likely the work is not current enough for your intended purpose. Similarly, if you notice a work does not cite any of the key theorists in your field of research, then you may decide the text does not have sufficient academic rigor. Chapter 9 contains more specific information regarding the formatting of bibliographic entries.

While this chapter focuses primarily on strategies for integrating sources in your writing and guidelines for avoiding plagiarism, chapter 9 provides more information about the specific formatting of citations (both endnotes and bibliographic information). You might consider working through worksheet 8 to test your understanding of citation and documentation practices before moving on to the next chapter.


Worksheet 8. Now you try it!: citation basics quiz

1. What types of claims should be cited? There may be more than one correct response.

a. Information that is quoted word-for-word from another source

b. Information that is paraphrased or summarized from another source

c. Information that is not common knowledge

d. Any information you learned by reading another source

2. Which of the following claims require a citation? There may be more than one correct response.

a. There are currently 471,990 active duty personnel in the U.S. Army.

b. From 10-36 to 10-32 seconds after the Big Bang, the temperature of the universe was low enough (1028 K) that the forces of electromagnetism (strong force) and weak nuclear forces (weak interaction) were able to separate as well, forming two distinct forces.

c. The Big Bang hypothesis states that all of the current and past matter in the universe came into existence roughly 13.8 billion years ago.

d. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC, as he sat watching a play.

e. Most Americans prefer Pepsi to Coke.

f. The Army is the oldest military Service in the United States. 

3. True or false: anything you learned in high school should be considered common knowledge.

a. True

b. False

4. Which of the following are forms of plagiarism? There may be more than one correct answer.

a. Self-plagiarism

b. Not placing borrowed words in quotation marks

c. Failing to read and cite all available literature on your topic

d. Not citing quoted or paraphrased information

e. Using a dropped quote