ENGL000 Study Guide

Unit 4: Transitions and Summarization

4a: Outline relationships between main ideas and subordinate ideas within the writing of others

  • What is a main idea?
  • What is a major detail?
  • What is a minor detail?

When writing academic essays, you will often conduct research on your topic and draw on others' ideas to build your own argument. You will paraphrase and summarize the work of others in your own writing. To do this effectively, you need to be able to identify main ideas, major details, and minor details in a piece of writing.


4b: Use transitional words and expressions to signal relationships between ideas

  • For each of the following types of relationships, name two appropriate transitional words or expressions:
    • Addition
    • Amplification
    • Cause and effect
    • Comparison
    • Concession
    • Contrast
    • Emphasis
    • Example
    • Intention
    • Interpretation
    • Location/place
    • Sequence/time
    • Similarity
    • Summary

Transitional words and expressions act as signals to the reader. They help the reader anticipate what is coming next and indicate to the reader how new information connects to what they have already read. Transitions are one tool for developing relationships between the main idea and supporting details.

To review, see Transitions, Transition Words, and Transitional Devices.


4c: Write well-organized analytical paragraphs in response to writing prompts

  • Write a well-developed paragraph that describes your growth as a writer throughout this course. Use at least four transitional devices to develop the relationships between your ideas.

The building blocks of an effective paragraph are appropriate grammar and punctuation, topic sentences, main ideas, supporting details, and transitional devices.

To review, see Guide to Responding to Assignments.


4d: Effectively quote, paraphrase, and summarize ideas

  • Quotation and paraphrase are both techniques that allow you to introduce ideas from outside sources to support your own argument. One or another technique may be more appropriate depending on the writing context. When should you use paraphrase in your writing? When should you use quotations?

When you quote, you include language directly from another text in your own writing. Place the original text within quotation marks, and properly cite the source of the quoted text.

When you paraphrase, you restate ideas from another text using your own words and word order. To avoid plagiarism, properly cite the source of the text you are paraphrasing.

When you summarize, you give an overview of the most significant points from a text. A summary reduces a text to its main points using your own words and sentence structure. Keep direct quotations to a minimum. Properly cite the source of the original text. Explain the difference between paraphrase and summarization.

To review, see How to SummarizeParaphrasing and Summarizing, and When to Quote and When to Paraphrase.


4e: Use quotation marks and apostrophes appropriately in writing

Quotation marks ( " " ) are primarily used to indicate dialogue or quotation. Quotation marks should be used any time you use text from another source word-for-word.

Use commas to separate dialogue or quoted text from the remainder of a sentence when the remainder of that sentence is an independent clause. For example, Ronald said, "Let's go to the movies". or "The course of true love never did run smooth", wrote Shakespeare. Do not use commas when the quoted material is integrated into an independent clause. For example, Shakespeare wrote that "the course of true love never did run smooth".

To enclose a quotation within a quotation, use single quotation marks ( ' ' ) around the interior quotation. Use standard marks around the whole quotation as usual.

There are several other rules governing the use of quotation marks:

  • Use quotation marks to enclose certain types of titles:
    • articles
    • essays
    • poems
    • short stories
    • book chapters
    • songs
    • television shows
    • works of art

Titles of books, periodicals, and musical albums are placed in italics, rather than quotation marks. Use quotation marks to draw attention to a single word or phrase for an ironic effect or when the word is the subject of discussion. Use quotation marks around the names of ships and airplanes.

Apostrophes ( ' ) are used to create possessive modifiers. Possessive modifiers indicate belonging or ownership.

To indicate possession with singular nouns, add 's when the noun does not already end with the letter s. When a singular noun does end with an s, writers should use their judgment to decide whether to add 's or only ' based on ease of pronunciation.

To indicate possession with plural nouns, add 's when the noun does not already end with the letter s. When a plural noun does end with an s, always add only '.

Apostrophes are used to indicate contraction. Contractions shorten words by removing letters, most often in spoken language. In writing, contractions make language less formal. To indicate contraction, use one apostrophe in place of the omitted letter or letters.

To review, see Quotation Marks and Apostrophes.


4f: Define plagiarism and implement strategies for avoiding plagiarism

  • Why is plagiarism a problem?
  • What are some strategies for avoiding plagiarism?
  • Under what circumstances do you need to cite a source? Under what circumstances do you not need to cite a source?

Plagiarism occurs when you use language or ideas that originate from another source without clearly attributing those ideas to their original author. College instructors expect students to understand what plagiarism is and why it is a problem, and they expect that students will not commit plagiarism.

To attribute language or ideas that you have gathered from another source, properly cite that source in your writing. You may also need to cite the source in a separate bibliography or works cited page.

Different academic disciplines use different formats to cite sources, but in every discipline, you will be expected to provide some of the same basic information: the name of the author; the name of the work; and some information about when, where, and how the work was published. In a college course, your instructor may require you to learn and implement a specific citation style.

It is very important to understand what plagiarism is and that you are able to cite sources appropriately to avoid plagiarizing in your own writing. To review, see:


4g: Craft short essays employing a variety of organizational patterns

  • What are the characteristics of an effective thesis statement?

The writing skills you practiced throughout the course to develop well-organized paragraphs can also be applied to craft essays. Like a paragraph, an essay should be organized around a single, clearly stated claim or idea. In argumentative writing, this claim is called a thesis statement.

Just as the main idea of a paragraph is supported by major and minor details, the thesis of an essay is supported by subordinate ideas in the body of the essay. The main idea of each paragraph clearly ties back to the thesis statement, supporting the thesis with evidence and examples. Use quotation, paraphrase, summary, and citation to support your thesis with outside evidence while also avoiding plagiarism. Use appropriate grammar and punctuation, sentence variety, and transitions to communicate your ideas effectively to the reader.

To review, see Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle Reflective Essay.


4h: Demonstrate principles of active reading

Active readers look for the main idea of a text, and they take effective notes by summarizing key points in their own words. By summarizing what you read, rather than copying down ideas from the reading word-for-word, you ensure that you understand the most important points.

To review, see The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle Quiz.


Unit 4 Vocabulary

This vocabulary list includes terms that might help you answer some of the review items above and some terms you should be familiar with to be successful in completing the final exam for the course.

  • active reading
  • APA style
  • apostrophe
  • citation
  • CMS style
  • contraction
  • main idea
  • major detail
  • minor detail
  • MLA style
  • paraphrase
  • plagiarism
  • possessive
  • quotation
  • quotation marks
  • summarization
  • transitions