I: Introducing the Source
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Whether you are paraphrasing someone else’s words or ideas or directly quoting them, your readers will likely want to know at least the following about what you are saying:

  • Who said it (the author)
  • Where it was said (in what source it was found)
  • When it was said (when it was published)

Who, Where, and When

To illustrate how you can simply and clearly indicate the who, where, and when of your source, let’s take a look at a couple examples of “introducing the source.”

Imagine for a moment that you need to write an essay in response to the following prompt question:

What are two of the benefits of holding a regular family council?

Next, imagine that upon doing research, you come across a talk given by Elder M. Russell Ballard. This talk happens to have a great quote in it that would give a large amount of credibility to one of the” benefits” you would like to focus on in the body of your essay. Following the three-tiered rule of identifying who, where, and when, a proper “introduction” of this quote might be the following:

In an April 2016 General Conference talk entitled “Family Councils,” Elder M. Russell Ballard...

Notice how the partial sentence above clearly states who said it (Elder M. Russell Ballard), where it was said (in a talk entitled “Family Councils”), and when it was said (April 2016 General Conference)?

This is an image the who, when, and where of a proper introduction of a quote. When: In an April 2016 General Conference. Where: talk entitled 'Family Councils'. Who: Elder M. Russell Ballard.

Ponder and Record

  • Think about the writing prompt you need to respond to. Have you found a good source and quote (expert testimony) you could use as a supporting detail in your essay?
  • Can you easily identify who said the quote, where the quote was said, and when?

Signal Verb

You probably noticed by now that the “introduction” example above appears to be incomplete. That is because it is missing another important part of the introduction—the signal verb. The main purpose of the signal verb is to indicate to the reader that the source’s words (not your own words) are coming up next.

Let’s return to our above example to illustrate:

In an April 2016 General Conference talk entitled “Family Councils,” Elder M. Russell Ballard...

What? Elder M. Russell Ballard did what? The signal verb is what indicates that “what.”

Truthfully, there are a lot of good signal verbs you could choose from to cue your reader about the upcoming shift. Here are just a few, from the University of Arizona Writing Center:

  • agrees
  • analyzes
  • concludes
  • contends
  • defines
  • disagrees
  • explains
  • finds
  • identifies
  • illustrates
  • informs
  • introduces
  • observes
  • outlines
  • promotes
  • questions
  • recommends
  • reports
  • says
  • shows
  • suggests
  • theorizes
  • writes

Now, looking at the list above and using your knowledge about the general context and tone of most General Conference talks, what signal verb might be a good fit for the quote introduction example above? How about this example:

In an April 2016 General Conference talk entitled “Family Councils,” Elder M. Russell Ballard teaches...

Ponder and Record

Based on the sources you have collected, what might be a good signal verb for you to use in your source introduction?

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