Signal Phrase Exercise


Overview: Take the time to review Excelsior Owl’s Signal Phrase Activity in order to familiarize yourself with the concepts before preceding with the exercise.

In this short exercise you will be asked to rewrite several sentences in order to integrate signal phrases and provide proper MLA in-text citation for each entry.

Use the directions and example below to guide you.



Signal Phrase Example

Original Source:
Because cable news success often seems to rest as much on the presentation of the programs as the journalism itself, executives are looking for different production twists to enhance their war, and prewar, coverage.
Citation   -From page C1 of a New York Times article, “War or No, News on Cable Already Provides the Drama,” by Jim Rutenberg

New Sentence With Signal Phrase 

Because cable news success often seems to rest as much on the presentation of the programs as the journalism itself, Jim Rutenberg, author of the New York Times article “War or No, News on Cable Already Provides the Drama,” argues that executives are looking for “different production twists” to enhance their war, and prewar, coverage (C1).

Note: The author identifies their source, author/ article, mentions what makes their source credible, integrates evidence properly in MLA in-text format, and uses the remaining portion of the sentence to explain the quote’s relevance.

Signal Phrase Exercise

Directions: Rewrite the following sentences. The source material that you are to work with is underlined in red font. Rewrite the sentence and integrate the material underlined in red font properly as a direct quotation.

Remember, a signal phrase:

  • Identifies your source (author/article)
  • Mentions what makes your source credible
  • Integrates evidence properly in MLA in-text format
  • Explains the sources relevance

(1) Original Source:

[F]or three or four decades during the Gilded Age, corporations and railroads took their favors-enormous ones that helped produce the world’s biggest fortunes-by all but seizing key portions of federal and state government. The legitimate encouragement of industry and technology aided U.S. growth and democracy; these political usurpations fundamentally threatened it.
Citation   -From page 232 of a book, Wealth and Democracy, by Kevin Phillips

(2) Original Source:
During episodes of unemployment I find it rewarding to sleep as much as possible – anywhere from twelve to fourteen hours a day is a good starting point. Sleep spares you humiliation and saves money at the same time: nothing to eat, nothing to buy, just lie back and dream your life away
Citation   -From page 207 of an essay, “Something for Everyone,” in the book Naked, by David Sedaris

(3) Original Source:
The cannon is not only important in itself as a power-machine applied to warfare: it is a one-cylinder internal combustion engine, and all of our more modern motors of this type are descended from it.
Citation   -From page 100 of a book, Medieval Technology and Social Change, by Lynn White Jr.

(4) Original Source:
In a most direct way, the Attorney General [John Ashcroft] had said that his critics were helping America’s enemy; any questions the senators might have about his proposals had been pre-emptively labeled unpatriotic, even subversive.
Citation  -From page 50 of a New Yorker article, “Ashcroft’s Ascent,” by Jeffrey Toobin