To Quote or Not: How PowerNotes Facilitates Proper Source Use



PowerNotes is not just a tool to gather quotations. It enables the user to collect and organize content that will provide the basis of support for source-based writing and facilitates further analysis of that content through the annotation field. While in some cases it is appropriate to use a direct quote, for both indirect quotations and source comparison, researchers will use the analysis they generate in the annotation field in the drafting process.

Whether to directly quote a source or not presents a difficult choice for students. Too many direct quotations can indicate lack of original thought. While there are useful guides on the internet, students should refer to their instructors or school librarians for guidance on when to use or not use direct quotations for specific class assignments.

This blog post discusses how PowerNotes can be used to facilitate:

  • Direct quotations - using the exact words of a source

  • Indirect quotations - paraphrasing or summarizing a source

  • Source comparison - comparing, contrasting, and complex analysis of sources


Direct Quotations

PowerNotes gathers and organizes direct quotes in a straightforward manner. Simply highlight the passage you may want to quote and PowerNotes will prompt you to annotate and categorize the passage and incorporate it into your outline.


Indirect Quotations

While PowerNotes has a user interface that is centered around highlighting text from sources and gathering quotations, researchers should not use direct quotes as the only means of referencing sources in their writing. Indeed, many instructors feel that students should use direct quotations sparingly and only in specific situations. Indirect quotation and other means of incorporating information from sources can often be more appropriate than using direct quotation. That is why PowerNotes attaches a flexible annotation field to every saved passage. Notably, to facilitate indirect quotations, there is no limit on: (1) the amount of text you can save and (2) the number of words you can enter into the annotation field.

To paraphrase or summarize a passage with PowerNotes, researchers can save a large block of text to indirectly quote while reviewing the source. In the annotation box that appears after categorizing the passage, researchers can either paraphrase or summarize the highlight at that time, or more likely, add a note reminding themselves to paraphrase or summarize the content later, so that they can continue to analyze the source without interruption.


The Project Outline is the ideal place to complete the indirect quotation. Here, researchers can see the quoted material that is being paraphrased or summarized directly above the annotation field and can click on the source link if they require more context. When paraphrasing or summarizing, researchers may find it helpful to add an identifier to the beginning of the indirect quote such as “Paraphrased to:” or “Summarized to:” as a reminder of which action the researcher took or as an indicator for a reviewing instructor.

Always make sure to properly cite your sources when using indirect quotations to avoid plagiarism. Click here to see how PowerNotes facilitates citation.


Source Comparison

Some assignments require researchers to use sources in a more complex way. For example, the researcher may have to compare or contrast two sources, analogize a source to a real-life situation, or distinguish precedent from more recent sources. Researchers can use PowerNotes to facilitate these analyses in a manner similar to how indirect quotes are supported.

Researchers can highlight large quantities of text or highlight the title of an article or case for reference. After categorizing the passage, the researcher can use the annotation field as a reminder to complete an analysis step after the current source has been reviewed. Examples of possible analyses include:

  • Compare/contrast this source with another source

  • Analogize/distinguish the facts provided in the source to an alternative factual scenario

  • Counter the argument presented by the referenced article or case

  • Address how the source’s point of view impacts your argument

Again, the researcher can use the Project Outline to write the actual analysis by using the annotation field associated with a particular quote.

In summary, as students learn how to use sources to support their arguments, they are also learning when to use direct quotations, summaries/paraphrases, and more sophisticated comparisons and analogies. PowerNotes facilitates each of those techniques by providing researchers with a flexible means of analyzing and annotating source material of any length. In so doing, PowerNotes helps researchers forge the building blocks of their written work and reduces the stress and frustration associated with writing a first draft.

We are always looking for new and innovative ways to use PowerNotes. If you have suggestions on how to use PowerNotes to reference sources in different ways, please let us know.