Online College Courses for Credit

2 Tutorials that teach Applying Evidence
Take your pick:
Applying Evidence

Applying Evidence

Author: Martina Shabram

Recognize the difference between summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting when incorporating evidence into an essay.

See More

Source: [image of quotation marks, public domain,]

Video Transcription

Download PDF

Hello students. My name is Dr. Martina Shabram and I will be your instructor for today's lesson. I'm genuinely excited to teach you these concepts. So let's get started. So what are we going to learn today? Well this lesson we'll discuss applying evidence to our essays. We'll learn about determining what kind of evidence to use and when to use it, integrating quotations and evidence into sentences, and how and why to cite.

Let's begin by recalling that evidence is facts and details that support an argument. Remember also that there is both personal evidence and researched evidence. So how do you know when you need evidence? Well, when you're writing an essay, particularly an argumentative essay, each paragraph should make one main point, right. So as you're working to prove that point you want to ask yourself, what does my reader need to know in order to believe this point?

Perhaps your reader will need to hear a personal narrative from your own experience. Or maybe they'll need hard statistics from an expert. Or perhaps they'll need some historical context. The kind of evidence you use will depend on what the main point is, what your authorial tone is, and what rhetorical appeals you're making. Depending on what each paragraph needs you can direct your research and evidence.

So let's say you found your evidence. Now you need to decide how to use it. There are three ways that you can present evidence.

First, summarizing. This means giving a brief overview of the main points or ideas of a piece of writing without relying on specific details or language. So this would mean writing something very general about a whole piece of text. For example, I could summarize the entire US National Anthem by saying something like, the US National Anthem, "Star Spangled Banner," is a song describing the fate of a flag during a major military battle. Notice that I'm giving a general overview of the whole piece without using any details or specifics.

Second, I could paraphrase. Paraphrasing means restating a passage in your own words, keeping the author's original intent and meaning. So this would mean rewriting something that a piece of writing has already said using different words entirely, usually to increase clarity. Paraphrases are therefore only of specific lines or sentences and they must keep the author's original meaning intact. A paraphrase of the national anthem might be taking these lines and writing--

Finally, there's quoting. Quoting is repeating the exact words of a piece of writing using quotation marks surrounding the quote. So this would mean writing the exact words from a piece of writing and enclosing those words in quotation marks so that it's clear which words are yours and which come from somewhere else. That might look like this.

Now once you've selected your evidence and decided how to use it, you need to integrate it into your sentences clearly. There are some rules for using quotations in particular that are important to know. And these apply if you're using summary and paraphrase as well.

Quotation marks always go before and after a quote. You can never change the author's original meaning by removing important context or mischaracterizing their main point. You can quote a whole sentence or part of a sentence. And you don't need to show that with ellipses, those little dots, on the outsides. You can use ellipses on the inside of a quote to replace a portion of a quotation that you don't want to include, as long as you don't change the meaning. You can use brackets to enclose your own words within the quotation, either to add pertinent information or to allow the author's phrasing to fit into your grammatical structure better. Again, as long as you don't change the meaning.

Finally, you must always cite your source, which means giving credit to the original author. Let's talk about that one more specifically.

Citation is an indication that words, ideas, or facts came from another source. This means simply giving credit where it's due by making sure that you include the author's name or the title of the original text among other details in your essay. Specifically, citation format is the way academics, journalists, et cetera, choose to identify their sources. Citation formats include MLA, APA, Chicago, and more.

Now each of these citation formats is different and asks for slightly different information in slightly different organizational structures. So it's more important to understand the theory behind when and where to cite than it is to memorize all of these formats. For guidance on the specifics about each of these formats I recommend the website Purdue OWL or the book Rules for Writers. My examples will be given in APA format.

Now you need to cite in two places, in a reference page and inside the text. Reference pages are also called bibliographies or works cited pages. They come at the end of an essay and they include all of the relevant information about where you can find each book, article, movie, et cetera that you're citing, usually in alphabetical order by the author's last name. The goal of a reference page is to provide enough information that someone can find that book if they want to read it in full.

In-text citations come inside your essay after each paraphrase, summary, or quotation. And they contain just a small amount of information, usually the author's last name, and if you're quoting or paraphrasing, the page number where you got that quote. The goal of an in-text citation is to provide enough information that someone can look up that text in your reference page to find all the details they need.

Now the most important thing to remember about citation is this. It is necessary to always give credit where it's due. If you are using ideas, words, or images that someone else came up with, you need to cite that person. Lack of appropriate citation it's called plagiarism, and it can have real consequences, both legally and academically.

Each citation format requires slightly different information in a slightly different organization. So it's important to always refer to the unique rules of each form. Remember again that Purdue OWL is a great resource for checking out each format.

So let's practice citing a source using APA style. For in-text citations I need the author's last name, the year that text was published, and the number of the page where the quotation can be found. After the quotation I'm going to need the name of the author and the year that the website was made or last updated. Because this is an electronic source, it might not have page numbers. So I can instead count the paragraphs and include that number. I put all this information in a parentheses and I separate each piece of information with a comma.

For the reference page I need the author's full name, the date of the source's publication, the title of the source, and the full web address. I create a reference page that comes after my essay. I first put in the author's full last name, then a comma, and then the initial of the author's first name. I put a period after this information. Then in parentheses, the date, again followed by another period.

Then using italics I put in the title of the source and another period. And then finally I write "retrieved from" and enter the full web address. Notice that there's no period at the end of the citation. If I have any other citations they will need to be added in alphabetical order like this.

Now let's take a look at this citation, because it's a little different from our first one, that's because this is a different kind of source. This is an online periodical. You can see that the title of the article isn't in italics because there's another title in italics, and that's the title of the journal that the article comes from. There's also a volume number for the journal. You probably also noticed that this second citation is long enough that it takes up more than one line in this document. In a reference page, I need to use what's called a hanging indent, which indents any line after the first.

Each different kind of source also needs slightly different information. So again, always refer to your style guide for help.

What did we learn today? Well, we discussed how to determine that you need evidence, how to select what format to present evidence in, how to integrate evidence into your sentences, and finally how and why to cite. Well students, I hope you had as much fun as I did. Thank you.

Terms to Know

An indication that words, ideas, or facts come from another source.

Citation Format

The way academics, journalists, etc., choose to identify their sources. Citation formats include MLA, APA, Chicago, and more.


Facts and details that support an argument.


Restating a passage in your own words, keeping the author’s original intent and meaning.


Repeating the exact words of a piece of writing, using quotation marks surrounding the quote.


Giving a brief overview of the main points or ideas of a piece of writing without relying on specific details or language.