Option in your own words. Quoting and Paraphrasing | Boundless Writing

Thinking about your audience and their expectations will help you make decisions about word choice. But the most important goal of academic writing is not to sound smart—it is to communicate an argument or information clearly and convincingly.

Understanding your "Words in Context" subscore

It is true that academic writing has a certain style of its own and that you, as a student, are beginning to learn to read and write in that style. When writing for your professors, think simplicity. Using simple words does not indicate simple thoughts. In an academic argument paper, what makes the thesis and argument sophisticated are the connections presented in simple, clear language.

Most instructors will not be pleased if your paper looks like an instant message or an email to a friend.

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This section comments on the crucial difference between repetition and redundancy of terms and works through an example of using key terms in a thesis statement. Repetition vs.

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Repetition can be a good thing. Sometimes we have to use our key terms several times within a paper, especially in topic sentences. Sometimes there is simply no substitute for the key terms, and selecting a weaker term as a synonym can do more harm than good.

Word Choice

Repeating key terms emphasizes important points and signals to the reader that the argument is still being supported.

This kind of repetition can give your paper cohesion and is done by conscious choice. In contrast, if you find yourself frustrated, tiredly repeating the same nouns, verbs, or adjectives, or making the same point over and over, you are probably being redundant. In this case, you are swimming aimlessly around the same points because you have not decided what your argument really is or because you are truly fatigued and clarity escapes you.

Building clear thesis statements Writing clear sentences is important throughout your writing. You can apply these ideas to other sentences in your papers.

It is not always easy to condense several paragraphs or several pages into concise key terms that, when combined in one sentence, can effectively describe the argument.

However, taking the time to find the right words offers writers a significant edge. Concise and appropriate terms will help both the writer and the reader keep track of what the essay will show and how it will show it. Graders, in particular, like to see clearly stated thesis statements. For more on thesis statements in general, please refer to our handout. You work on it for several days, producing three versions of your thesis: Version 1: There are many important river and shore scenes in Huckleberry Finn.

Version 2: The contrasting river and shore scenes in Huckleberry Finn suggest a return to nature. On the other hand, she still does not know how this return to nature is crucial to your understanding of the novel. Finally, you come up with Version 3, which is a stronger thesis because it offers a sophisticated argument and the key terms used to make option in your own words argument are clear. At least three key terms or concepts are evident: the contrast between river and shore scenes, a return to nature, and American democratic ideals.

By itself, a key term is merely a topic—an option in your own words of the argument but not the argument itself.

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The argument, then, becomes clear to the reader through the way in which you combine key terms. Strategies for successful word choice Be careful when using words you are unfamiliar with. Look at how they are used in context and check their dictionary definitions.

Be careful when using the thesaurus. Use a dictionary to be sure the synonym you are considering really fits what you are trying to say. Under the present conditions of our society, marriage practices generally demonstrate a high degree of homogeneity. In our culture, people tend to marry others who are like themselves. Longman, p.

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When you get stuck, write out two or more choices for a questionable word or a confusing sentence, e. Look for repetition.

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Write your thesis in five different ways. Make five different versions of your thesis sentence. Compose five sentences that express your argument. Find five possible ways to communicate your argument in one sentence to your reader. Whenever we write a sentence we make choices. By writing out five different versions of your thesis, you can begin to see your range of choices. The final version may be a combination of phrasings and words from all five versions, option in your own words the one version that says it best.

By literally spelling out some possibilities for yourself, you will be able to make better decisions. Read your paper out loud and at… a… slow… pace. You can do this alone or with a friend, roommate, TA, etc. When read out loud, your written words should make sense to both you and other listeners. If a sentence seems confusing, rewrite it to make the meaning clear. Instead of reading the paper itself, put it down and just talk through your argument as concisely as you can.

If, on the other hand, your listener keeps asking for clarification, you will need to work on finding the right terms for your essay. If you do this in exchange with a friend or classmate, rest assured that whether you are the talker or the listener, your articulation skills will develop.

Questions to ask yourself Am I sure what each word I use really means? Am I positive, or should I look it up? Have I found the best word or just settled for the most obvious, or the easiest, one? Am I trying too hard to impress my reader? Sometimes it helps to answer this question by trying it out loud.

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How would you say it to someone? What are the key terms of my argument? Can I outline out my argument using only these key terms? What others do I need?

Quoting and paraphrasing the ideas and knowledge others have set forth is a way to show your reader how you arrived at your conclusions. You must always cite ideas, as well as any other information other than commonly known and accepted facts. Quotations are most appropriate when the author is particularly well-known, when you want to add an air of authority to the information, and when the exact words are particularly eloquent. Paraphrasing gives you more flexibility with sentence structure and allows the reader to hear your unique voice and reasoning in the paper.

Option in your own words do I not need? Have I created my own terms, or have I simply borrowed what looked like key ones from the assignment? Are my key terms too specific? Do they cover the entire range of my argument? Can I think of specific examples from my sources that fall under the key term? Are my key terms too vague? Do they cover more than the range of my argument? Works consulted We consulted these works while writing this handout.

Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Anson, Chris M. The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers.

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New York: Longman, Grossman, Ellie. New York: Hyperion, Cook, Claire Kehrwald. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, New York: Riverhead Books, Tarshis, Barry.

New York: Three Rivers Press, Williams, Joseph M. Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace. New York: Pearson, You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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