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Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

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This handout is intended to help you become more comfortable with the uses of and distinctions among quotations, paraphrases, and summaries. This handout compares and contrasts the three terms, gives some pointers, and includes a short excerpt that you can use to practice these skills.

What are the differences among quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing?

These three ways of incorporating other writers' work into your own writing differ according to the closeness of your writing to the source writing.

Quotations must be identical to the original, using a narrow segment of the source. They must match the source document word for word and must be attributed to the original author.

Paraphrasing involves putting a passage from source material into your own words. A paraphrase must also be attributed to the original source. Paraphrased material is usually shorter than the original passage, taking a somewhat broader segment of the source and condensing it slightly.

Summarizing involves putting the main idea(s) into your own words, including only the main point(s). Once again, it is necessary to attribute summarized ideas to the original source. Summaries are significantly shorter than the original and take a broad overview of the source material.

Why use quotations, paraphrases, and summaries?

Quotations, paraphrases, and summaries serve many purposes. You might use them to:

Writers frequently intertwine summaries, paraphrases, and quotations. As part of a summary of an article, a chapter, or a book, a writer might include paraphrases of various key points blended with quotations of striking or suggestive phrases as in the following example:

In his famous and influential work The Interpretation of Dreams , Sigmund Freud argues that dreams are the "royal road to the unconscious" (page #), expressing in coded imagery the dreamer's unfulfilled wishes through a process known as the "dream-work" (page #). According to Freud, actual but unacceptable desires are censored internally and subjected to coding through layers of condensation and displacement before emerging in a kind of rebus puzzle in the dream itself (page #).

How to use quotations, paraphrases, and summaries

Practice summarizing the essay found here , using paraphrases and quotations as you go. It might be helpful to follow these steps:

There are several ways to integrate quotations into your text. Often, a short quotation works well when integrated into a sentence. Longer quotations can stand alone. Remember that quoting should be done only sparingly; be sure that you have a good reason to include a direct quotation when you decide to do so. You'll find guidelines for citing sources and punctuating citations at our documentation guide pages.

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APA Citation Guide (7th edition): Quotes vs Paraphrases

What's the Difference?

Quoting vs paraphrasing: what's the difference.

There are two ways to integrate sources into your assignment: quoting directly or paraphrasing.

Quoting  is copying a selection from someone else's work, phrasing it exactly as it was originally written. When quoting place quotation marks (" ") around the selected passage to show where the quote begins and where it ends. Make sure to include an in-text citation. 

Paraphrasing  is used to show that you understand what the author wrote. You must reword the passage, expressing the ideas in your own words, and not just change a few words here and there. Make sure to also include an in-text citation. 

Quoting Example

There are two basic formats that can be used:

Parenthetical Style:

Narrative Style:

Quoting Tips

What Is a Long Quotation?

A quotation of more than 40 words. 

Rules for Long Quotations

There are 4 rules that apply to long quotations that are different from regular quotations:

Example of a Long Quotation

At the end of Lord of the Flies the boys are struck with the realization of their behaviour:

The tears began to flow and sobs shook him. He gave himself up to them now for the first time on the island; great, shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body. His voice rose under the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other little boys began to shake and sob too. (Golding, 1960, p.186)

Changing Quotations

Sometimes you may want to make some modifications to the quote to fit your writing. Here are some APA rules when changing quotes:

Incorrect spelling, grammar, and punctuation

Add the word [sic] after the error in the quotation to let your reader know the error was in the original source and is not your error.

Omitting parts of a quotation

If you would like to exclude some words from a quotation, replace the words you are not including with an ellipsis - ...

Adding words to a quote

If you are adding words that are not part of the original quote, enclose the additional words in square brackets - [XYZ]

Secondary Source Quotes

What is a secondary source.

In scholarly work, a primary source reports original content; a secondary source refers to content first reported in another source.

Rules for Secondary Source Citations

Example of a Secondary Source Use

Quote & In-Text Citation

Reference List Entry


Paraphrasing example.

When you write information from a source in your own words, cite the source by adding an in-text citation at the end of the paraphrased portion as follows:

If you refer to the author's name in a sentence you do not have to include the name again as part of your in-text citation, instead include the year of publication following his/her name:

NOTE : Although not required, APA encourages including the page number when paraphrasing if it will help the reader locate the information in a long text and distinguish between the information that is coming from you and the source.

Paraphrasing Tips

Original Source

Homeless individuals commonly come from families who are riddled with problems and marital disharmony, and are alienated from their parents. They have often been physically and even sexually abused, have relocated frequently, and many of them may be asked to leave home or are actually thrown out, or alternatively are placed in group homes or in foster care. They often have no one to care for them and no one knows them intimately.

Source from: 

Rokach, A. (2005). The causes of loneliness in homeless youth. The Journal of Psychology, 139, 469-480. 

Example: Incorrect Paraphrasing

Example: correct paraphrasing.

If your paraphrase is longer than one sentence, provide an in-text citation for the source at the beginning of the paraphrase. As long as it's clear that the paraphrase continues to the following sentences, you don't have to include in-text citations for the following sentences.

If your paraphrase continues to another paragraph and/or you include paraphrases from other sources within the paragraph, repeat the in-text citations for each.

Additional Resource

Tip sheet on paraphrasing information

Shapiro Library

FAQ: How do I cite paraphrased information in APA style (in-text)?

Answered By: Jennifer Harris Last Updated: Aug 19, 2022     Views: 259411

When you paraphrase, you use your own words. This is usually preferable to direct quotes because the information is written in your own style, but you must be careful not to change the meaning. When paraphrasing, you must still acknowledge where you got the idea from by including a parenthetical citation.

When citing paraphrased information, APA requires you to include the author and date. It is also recommended (but not required) that you include the page number. The format of the page number depends on if the information is on a single page or range of pages.

Examples of Citing Paraphrased Information at the Beginning of a Sentence

A review  (Selby et al., 2017)  identified several laws pertaining to cancer research in the UK that might be affected because of Brexit.

Patafio et al. (2016) investigated the relationship between cancer research funding and cancer research output and found that research output is not well correlated with the public health burden of individual cancers that was measure by mortality rates.

The authors (Lindqvist & Neumann) argue that security and privacy are crucial in the Internet of Things (IoT) because if future attacks are successful they can cause widespread destruction and even cost lives.

Bernard (2011)  argues that Henry VIII's Catholicism was more than just Catholicism without the pope.

Examples of Citing Paraphrased Information in the Middle of a Sentence

Surgery is considered a last resort in the treatment of plantar fasciitis  Owens (2017) argues.

Strength training as treatment for plantar fasciitis, according to (Huffer et al. 2017) , does not contribute to the improved function and pain relief.

Many physical therapists use ultrasound therapy as treatment; however, numerous studies highlighted in the review published by Sanke and Radwan (2015) show that the therapy does not have any effect on the condition. 

Examples of Citing Paraphrased Information at the End of a Sentence

There are multiple types of cyberbullying  (El Asam & Samara, 2016) .

A significant amount of youths' social interaction takes place through technology and children as young as 10 have access to mobile devices  (Williford & DePaolis, 2016) .

The authors found that undergraduate students are afraid to report cyberbullying  (Watts et al., 2017, p. 273) .

Example of how the original quotation might be paraphrased<

Original quotation:.

American commitment to self-government rested on the early experience of colonization. English common law was introduced with the first settlers, and each new colony soon had an elected assembly designed to represent and protect the interests of the settler population, acting like a local equivalent of the Westminster House of Commons.  In theory, popular participation in government was balanced by a strong executive, in the person of the governor, supported by an advisory council.  Bit in the first years of settlement, when colonies were sponsored by private companies rather than the Crown, governors and councils were often themselves elected, reinforcing the tendency towards local control (Conway, 2013, p. 33) .

The essay incorporating the paraphrasing:

The early settlers in Colonial American may have considered themselves English and loyal to the Crown.  However, the local government structure supported a system of relative self-governance  (Conway, 2013, p. 33) .

More Information

Further Help

This information is intended to be a guideline, not expert advice. Please be sure to speak to your professor about the appropriate way to cite sources in your class assignments and projects.

Campus Students

To access Academic Support, visit your Brightspace course and select “Tutoring and Mentoring” from the Academic Support pulldown menu.

Online Students

To access help with citations and more, visit the Academic Support via modules in Brightspace:

American Psychological Association. (2020).  Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7 th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000

Bernard, G. W. (2011). The dissolution of the monasteries. History , 96 (324), 390-409. 

Conway, S. (2013). A short history of the American Revolutionary War . I.B.Tauris.

El Asam, A., & Samara, M. (2016). Cyberbullying and the law: A review of psychological and legal challenges. Computers in human behavior , 65 , 127-141. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.08.012

Lindqvist, U., & Neumann, P. G. (2017). The future of the internet of things. Communications of the ACM , 60 (2), 26-30. https://doi.org/10.1145/3029589

Owens, J. M. (2017). Diagnosis and management of plantar fasciitis in primary care. Journal for nurse practitioners , 13 (5), 354-359. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nurpra.2016.12.016

Patafio, F. M., Brooks, S. C., Wei, X., Peng, Y., Biagi, J., & Booth, C. M. (2016). Research output and the public health burden of cancer: Is there any relationship? Current Oncology , 23 (2), 75-80. https://doi.org/10.3747/co.23.2935

Sanke, P. L., & Radwan, T. S. (2015). Ultrasound as an effective treatment for chronic plantar fasciitis. Journal of foot & ankle surgery , 54 (4) 481-487.

Selby, P., Lawler, M., Baird, R., Banks, I., Johnston, P., & Nurse, P. (2017). The potential consequences for cancer care and cancer research of Brexit. Ecancermedicalscience , 11 (752-769), 1-3. https://doi.org/10.3332/ecancer.2017.ed63

Watts, L. K., Wagner, J., Velasquez, B., & Behrens, P. I. (2017). Cyberbullying in higher education: A literature review. Computers in human behavior , 69 , 268-274. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.12.038

Williford, A., & Depaolis, K. J. (2016). Predictors of cyberbullying intervention among elementary school staff: The moderating effect of staff status. Psychology in the schools , 53 (10), 1032-1044. https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.21973

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A paraphrase restates another’s idea (or your own previously published idea) in your own words. Paraphrasing allows you to summarize and synthesize information from one or more sources, focus on significant information, and compare and contrast relevant details.

Published authors paraphrase their sources most of the time, rather than directly quoting the sources; student authors should emulate this practice by paraphrasing more than directly quoting.

When you paraphrase, cite the original work using either the narrative or parenthetical citation format .

Although it is not required to provide a page or paragraph number in the citation, you may include one (in addition to the author and year) when it would help interested readers locate the relevant passage within a long or complex work (e.g., a book).

Webster-Stratton (2016) described a case example of a 4-year-old girl who showed an insecure attachment to her mother; in working with the family dyad, the therapist focused on increasing the mother’s empathy for her child (pp. 152–153).

These guidelines pertain to when you read a primary source and paraphrase it yourself. If you read a paraphrase of a primary source in a published work and want to cite that source, it is best to read and cite the primary source directly if possible; if not, use a secondary source citation .

paraphrase cite quotes

This guidance has been expanded from the 6th edition. 

Related handout

Long paraphrases

A paraphrase may continue for several sentences. In such cases, cite the work being paraphrased on first mention. Once the work has been cited, it is not necessary to repeat the citation as long as the context of the writing makes it clear that the same work continues to be paraphrased.

Velez et al. (2018) found that for women of color, sexism and racism in the workplace were associated with poor work and mental health outcomes, including job-related burnout, turnover intentions, and psychological distress. However, self-esteem, person–organization fit, and perceived organizational support mediated these effects. Additionally, stronger womanist attitudes—which acknowledge the unique challenges faced by women of color in a sexist and racist society—weakened the association of workplace discrimination with psychological distress. These findings underscore the importance of considering multiple forms of workplace discrimination in clinical practice and research with women of color, along with efforts to challenge and reduce such discrimination.

If the paraphrase continues into a new paragraph, reintroduce the citation. If the paraphrase incorporates multiple sources or switches among sources, repeat the citation so the source is clear. Read your sentences carefully to ensure you have cited sources appropriately.

Play therapists can experience many symptoms of impaired wellness, including emotional exhaustion or reduced ability to empathize with others (Elwood et al., 2011; Figley, 2002), disruption in personal relationships (Elwood et al., 2011; Robinson-Keilig, 2014), decreased satisfaction with work (Elwood et al., 2011), avoidance of particular situations (Figley, 2002; O’Halloran & Linton, 2000), and feelings or thoughts of helplessness (Elwood et al., 2011; Figley, 2002; O’Halloran & Linton, 2000).

paraphrase cite quotes

Citations - MLA: In-Text Citations - Quotations & Paraphrasing

On This Page


Unknown Author

Repeated use of sources, long quotations.

Citing a Source that you Found in Another Source (Secondary Source)

Order of authors, about in-text citations.

In MLA, in-text citations are inserted in the body of your research paper to briefly document the source of your information. Brief in-text citations point the reader to the full citation on the works cited list at the end of the paper.

Create in-text citations for the following:

If you're using information from a single source more than once in succession (i.e., no other sources referred to in between), you can use a simplified in-text citation.

Cell biology is an area of science that focuses on the structure and function of cells (Smith 15). It revolves around the idea that the cell is a "fundamental unit of life" (17). Many important scientists have contributed to the evolution of cell biology. Mattias Jakob Schleiden and Theodor Schwann, for example, were scientists who formulated cell theory in 1838 (20). 

 Note: If using this simplified in-text citation creates ambiguity regarding the source being referred to, use the full in-text citation format.

What Is a Long Quotation?

If your quotation extends to more than four lines as you're typing your essay, it is a long quotation.

Rules for Long Quotations

There are 4 rules that apply to long quotations that are different from regular quotations:

Example of a Long Quotation

At the end of  Lord of the Flies  the boys are struck with the realization of their behaviour:

The tears began to flow and sobs shook him. He gave himself up to them now for the first time on the island; great, shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body. His voice rose under the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other little boys began to shake and sob too . (Golding 186)

Direct Quote  - Add an in-text citation at the end of the quote with the author name and page number:

Mother-infant attachment has been a leading topic of developmental research since John Bowlby found that "children raised in institutions were deficient in emotional and personality development" (Hunt 358).

Authors Name in the Sentence & with a Direct Quote -  If you refer to the author's name in a sentence you do not have to include the name in the in-text citation, instead include the page number (if there is one) at the end of the quotation or paraphrased section. For example:

Hunt explains that mother-infant attachment has been a leading topic of developmental research since John Bowlby found that "children raised in institutions were deficient in emotional and personality development" (358).

No Page Numbers & with a Direct Quote -  When you quote from electronic sources that do not provide page numbers (like Web pages), cite the author name only.

"Three phases of the separation response: protest, despair, and detachment" (Garelli).

  Note: The period goes outside the brackets, at the end of your in-text citation.

In-Text Citation For One, Two, or More Authors/Editors

Author Known: 

In-Text Citation For More Than One Source

If you would like to cite more than one source within the same in-text citation, simply record the in-text citations as normal and separate them with a semi-colon.

(Smith 42; Bennett 71). 

( It Takes Two ; Brock 43).

 Note: The sources within the in-text citation do not need to be in alphabetical order for MLA style.

When creating an in-text citation or full citation, the authors should be listed in the original order displayed on the item (book, article, ...). 

When you write information or ideas from a source in your own words, cite the source by adding an in-text citation at the end of the paraphrased portion.

Paraphrasing from One Page

Include a full in-text citation with the author name and page number (if there is one). For example:

Mother-infant attachment became a leading topic of developmental research following the publication of John Bowlby's studies (Hunt 65).

Hunt discussed mother-infant attachment becoming a leading topic of developmental research following the publication of John Bowlby's studies (65).

Paraphrasing from Multiple Pages

If the paraphrased information/idea is from several pages, include them. For example:

Mother-infant attachment became a leading topic of developmental research following the publication of John Bowlby's studies (Hunt 50, 55, 65-71).

Author Unknown:

( Cell Biology  12)

("Nursing" 12)

Sometimes an author of a book, article or website will mention another person’s work by using a quotation or paraphrased idea from that source. ( This may be called a secondary source.) 

For example, the Kirkey article you are reading includes a quotation by Smith that you would like to include in your essay.

Examples of in-text citations :

According to a study by Smith (qtd. in Kirkey) 42% of doctors would refuse to perform legal euthanasia.

Smith (qtd. in Kirkey) states that “even if euthanasia was legal, 42% of doctors would be against this method of assisted dying” (A.10).

Example of Works Cited list citation:

Kirkey, Susan. "Euthanasia."  The Montreal Gazette , 9 Feb. 2013, p. A.10.  Canadian Newsstand Major Dailies.


Citing references

Where does my own thinking come in?

Using short and long quotes, using paraphrases, can you have too many references.

Cite Them Right guide

Cover Art

You need to provide a citation whenever you refer to an idea that you derived from a source. This is the case whether you use a direct quote , a paraphrase , or even just a direct or indirect mention . You need to include a  brief citation in the text at the place where you refer to the source, and a  full citation in your bibliography or reference list. The style of referencing you are using will dictate which details you include in your citations, how you signpost brief citations (in the body of the text or in footnotes, directly or by assigning a number which links to full details in a reference list), and what order you put information in. Check your course handbook to see what style your department prefers.

Direct quote with brief citation in Harvard style -

Wenger (1998, p.181) argues that; "Engagement, imagination and alignment each create relations of belonging".

Paraphrase with brief citation in numeric style -

The focus of Wenger's discussion is on the way that different aspects come together to build notions of identity (3).

Indirect mention with brief citation in Harvard style:

Theorists have considered the impact of a variety of circumstances on the creation and expansion of identity (Wenger, 1998; Lee, 2013; Morton and Grainger, 2009).

Students often worry that including a citation for every idea they have got from their reading will make their work look like it is unoriginal and derivative - just a string of other people's ideas.

However the originality will come in your understanding, interpretation and use of what you have read, which will be quite different to other people's. If you are thoughtful about your research and writing, this critical analysis will be visible throughout your work, so don't fall into the trap of feeling you have to include 'something original' in your conclusion! 

Using short quotes

Using long quotes

quotation marks

Below are some examples of ways to build short quotes into your writing. Citations are all in Harvard style - check the style your department prefers.

Turner (2007, p.14) argues that it is more effective to work "better not longer".

If your source has three or more authors, list the first followed by et al:

The results were described as "disappointing" (Jensen et al , 2011).

If you need to add a word or words to make the excerpted phrase make sense, put them in square brackets:

However, identity may be expanded "through [both] space and time" (Wenger, 1998, p.181).

If you need to remove a word or words to shorten the excerpted phrase without changing the general sense, use an ellipsis:

Referring to the work of blac k women photographers, Parmar (1990, p.122) observes that, "The thematic concerns... are as varied as the women themselves".

Long quotes (more than three or four lines) are set out in your text in a 'block' - started on a new line and indented at left and sometimes right. They are not placed in quotation marks, and the brief citation is placed on a separate line, on the right-hand side.

Example (in Harvard):

While students may feel that referencing is outdated, others have a different understanding:

Is an insistence on referencing about supporting a system and a process of learning that is a legacy of a different time and society? Are universities enforcing upon you an arcane practice of referencing that you will probably never use again outside higher education? Or is there something deeper in the practice of referencing that connects with behaving ethically, properly, decently and respecting others - ageless societal values that universities should try to maintain?

Neville, 2007, pp.27-8.

Long quotes are often used in assignments which focus on analysing a particular text closely (for instance, a novel or poem, or an original document). In these cases, the analysis may need to refer to a large number of phrases within the text and some more than once. Long quotes should only be used if you are planning to analyse the text in some detail.

Putting your understanding of what you have read into your own words is known as paraphrasing. A common mistake is to try to paraphrase a single sentence, which is very difficult and often ends in an inelegant and sometimes meaningless phrase. It is better to read the whole paragraph in which the idea lies, then try to write a sentence on your understanding of the idea. You may not need to include a page number here, as the idea may be argued throughout the source rather than just in one specific place.

Original: Set yourself a target - perhaps of writing 500 words per session - and make this a minmum target, regardless of how long it takes you to do. This method has that inbuilt incentive for you to finish the work as soon as possible. If you finish the work quickly then the rest of the day/evening or weekend is your own to do what you like with it. From (Hoult, E. (2006), Learning support for mature students.  London: Sage, p.62).

Paraphrase including citation: Hoult (2006) argues that setting targets for achievement can be an effective way of managing study time, and may encourage task completion.

Your references have a job to do - to support or counter the statements and arguments you make in your discussion. Providing all of them are doing this job, it doesn't matter how many there are. Just make sure that they are doing this job, and are not just there for decoration!

An easy way to check this is to highlight all your citations, then check that each has been discussed. Look out for a balanced mix of statements, evidence (e.g. references) and analysis.

Note that opening or closing a paragraph or assignment with a quote is not good style in university-level writing.


APA (6/e) Style Guide


APA style prefers you paraphrase information from other sources, and that you keep direct quotations to a minimum.

Paraphrases are restatements of written or spoken language in your own words.   Do not add your opinions in the middle of paraphrasing or summarizing unless it is clear your ideas are not the original author’s. Reintroduce the author’s name to clarify any ambiguity to the reader.  Paraphrases and summaries do not use quotation marks and require  the author’s last name and year of publication .  Page number is not required for paraphrases and summaries.  

When citing a source, you always have two choices:  1) Write the author’s name as part of your sentence in the text.  2) Write the author’s name in the parentheses.  Use only last name in all APA in-text citations and do  not include  the title of books or articles in the body of your paper. The date must go directly after the author’s name.

One to two authors in text:

Emery’s (2004) case study of a boy with autism found art therapy to be a useful tool to help him relate to others.

Abrams and Kane (2007) report the drop-out rate is double that of other schools.

Authors in parenthetical:

Art therapy was found to be a useful tool to help a young boy with autism relate to others (Emery, 2004).

The drop-out rate is double that of other schools (Abrams & Kane, 2007).

Multiple authors:    APA has specific rules for how you write authors’ names when there are more than two authors. 

Three – five authors:   At first mention in the paper, write all authors’ names.  Thereafter, use et al.

Authors in text:

Hurtado, Dey, Gurin, and Gurin (2003) emphasize that to gain the benefits of educational diversity, universities must…..

Hurtado et al. (2003) emphasize that to gain the benefits of educational diversity, universities must . . .

Authors in parenthetical:                   

To gain the benefits of educational diversity, universities must . . . (Hurtado, Dey, Gurin, & Gurin, 2003).

To gain the benefits of educational diversity, universities must . . . (Hurtado et al., 2003).

Six or more authors:   Use only the first author’s name followed by et al.

(Kosslyn et al., 1996)

Multiple references in the same parentheses :   Put in alphabetical order by author’s last name and separate with semi-colon.

(Bruffee, 1993; Goodsell, Maher, & Tinto, 1992; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991; Pike, 1993)

Source with no author :   Use abbreviated version of title.

(“Study Finds,” 2007)

…the book  College Bound Seniors  (2008) describes…

A  quotation  is a word-for-word repetition of written or spoken language. Quotation marks directly before and after the material tell the reader these are the exact words of the source. Be stingy in your use of direct quotations -- never more than 10% of your paper.  Direct quotations must always include the author’s last name, year of publication,  and page number .  Integrate direct quotations seamlessly into your paper by introducing the author’s last name before the quote. Remember the rule, “Don’t drop quotations!”

Author in text:   You could choose this style if you are introducing the author or a study for the first time.

Interpreting these results, Robbins et al. (2003) suggested that the “therapists in dropout cases may have inadvertently validated parental negativity about the adolescent without adequately responding to the adolescent’s need or concerns” (p. 541), contributing to an overall climate of negativity.

Author in parenthetical:    You could choose this style if you’ve already mentioned the author in a previous citation.

“The low self-monitoring person is generally more attentive to his/her internal attitudes and dispositions than to externally based information such as others’ reactions and expectations” (Baxter, 1983, p. 29).

Long Quotations

If the source you are quoting is 40 or more words, start it on a new line and indent the entire quotation about a half inch from the margin (same position as a new paragraph).  Double space and do not use quotation marks. Note different position of period.

Miele (1993) found the following:

The “placebo effect,” which had been verified in previous studies, disappeared when behaviors were studied in this manner. Furthermore, the behaviors were never exhibited again even when reel [sic] drugs were administered. Earlier studies were clearly premature in attributing the results to a placebo effect.  (p. 276)

New York Medical College

Quoting and Paraphrasing

Download this Handout PDF

College writing often involves integrating information from published sources into your own writing in order to add credibility and authority–this process is essential to research and the production of new knowledge.

However, when building on the work of others, you need to be careful not to plagiarize : “to steal and pass off (the ideas and words of another) as one’s own” or to “present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.”1 The University of Wisconsin–Madison takes this act of “intellectual burglary” very seriously and considers it to be a breach of academic integrity . Penalties are severe.

These materials will help you avoid plagiarism by teaching you how to properly integrate information from published sources into your own writing.

1. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1993), 888.

How to avoid plagiarism

When using sources in your papers, you can avoid plagiarism by knowing what must be documented.

Specific words and phrases

If you use an author’s specific word or words, you must place those words within quotation marks and you must credit the source.

Information and Ideas

Even if you use your own words, if you obtained the information or ideas you are presenting from a source, you must document the source.

Information : If a piece of information isn’t common knowledge (see below), you need to provide a source.

Ideas : An author’s ideas may include not only points made and conclusions drawn, but, for instance, a specific method or theory, the arrangement of material, or a list of steps in a process or characteristics of a medical condition. If a source provided any of these, you need to acknowledge the source.

Common Knowledge?

You do not need to cite a source for material considered common knowledge:

General common knowledge is factual information considered to be in the public domain, such as birth and death dates of well-known figures, and generally accepted dates of military, political, literary, and other historical events. In general, factual information contained in multiple standard reference works can usually be considered to be in the public domain.

Field-specific common knowledge is “common” only within a particular field or specialty. It may include facts, theories, or methods that are familiar to readers within that discipline. For instance, you may not need to cite a reference to Piaget’s developmental stages in a paper for an education class or give a source for your description of a commonly used method in a biology report—but you must be sure that this information is so widely known within that field that it will be shared by your readers.

If in doubt, be cautious and cite the source. And in the case of both general and field-specific common knowledge, if you use the exact words of the reference source, you must use quotation marks and credit the source.

Paraphrasing vs. Quoting — Explanation

Should i paraphrase or quote.

In general, use direct quotations only if you have a good reason. Most of your paper should be in your own words. Also, it’s often conventional to quote more extensively from sources when you’re writing a humanities paper, and to summarize from sources when you’re writing in the social or natural sciences–but there are always exceptions.

In a literary analysis paper , for example, you”ll want to quote from the literary text rather than summarize, because part of your task in this kind of paper is to analyze the specific words and phrases an author uses.

In research papers , you should quote from a source

You should summarize or paraphrase when

How to paraphrase a source

General advice.

Methods of Paraphrasing

If you find that you can’t do A or B, this may mean that you don’t understand the passage completely or that you need to use a more structured process until you have more experience in paraphrasing.

The method below is not only a way to create a paraphrase but also a way to understand a difficult text.

Paraphrasing difficult texts

Consider the following passage from Love and Toil (a book on motherhood in London from 1870 to 1918), in which the author, Ellen Ross, puts forth one of her major arguments:

Children of the poor at the turn of the century received little if any emotional or intellectual nurturing from their mothers, whose main charge was family survival. Working for and organizing household subsistence were what defined mothering. Next to this, even the children’s basic comfort was forced into the background (Ross, 1995).
According to Ross (1993), poor children at the turn of the century received little mothering in our sense of the term. Mothering was defined by economic status, and among the poor, a mother’s foremost responsibility was not to stimulate her children’s minds or foster their emotional growth but to provide food and shelter to meet the basic requirements for physical survival. Given the magnitude of this task, children were deprived of even the “actual comfort” (p. 9) we expect mothers to provide today.

You may need to go through this process several times to create a satisfactory paraphrase.

Successful vs. unsuccessful paraphrases

Paraphrasing is often defined as putting a passage from an author into “your own words.” But what are your own words? How different must your paraphrase be from the original?

The paragraphs below provide an example by showing a passage as it appears in the source, two paraphrases that follow the source too closely, and a legitimate paraphrase.

The student’s intention was to incorporate the material in the original passage into a section of a paper on the concept of “experts” that compared the functions of experts and nonexperts in several professions.

The Passage as It Appears in the Source

Critical care nurses function in a hierarchy of roles. In this open heart surgery unit, the nurse manager hires and fires the nursing personnel. The nurse manager does not directly care for patients but follows the progress of unusual or long-term patients. On each shift a nurse assumes the role of resource nurse. This person oversees the hour-by-hour functioning of the unit as a whole, such as considering expected admissions and discharges of patients, ascertaining that beds are available for patients in the operating room, and covering sick calls. Resource nurses also take a patient assignment. They are the most experienced of all the staff nurses. The nurse clinician has a separate job description and provides for quality of care by orienting new staff, developing unit policies, and providing direct support where needed, such as assisting in emergency situations. The clinical nurse specialist in this unit is mostly involved with formal teaching in orienting new staff. The nurse manager, nurse clinician, and clinical nurse specialist are the designated experts. They do not take patient assignments. The resource nurse is seen as both a caregiver and a resource to other caregivers. . . . Staff nurses have a hierarchy of seniority. . . . Staff nurses are assigned to patients to provide all their nursing care. (Chase, 1995, p. 156)

Word-for-Word Plagiarism

Critical care nurses have a hierarchy of roles. The nurse manager hires and fires nurses. S/he does not directly care for patients but does follow unusual or long-term cases. On each shift a resource nurse attends to the functioning of the unit as a whole, such as making sure beds are available in the operating room , and also has a patient assignment . The nurse clinician orients new staff, develops policies, and provides support where needed . The clinical nurse specialist also orients new staff, mostly by formal teaching. The nurse manager, nurse clinician, and clinical nurse specialist , as the designated experts, do not take patient assignments . The resource nurse is not only a caregiver but a resource to the other caregivers . Within the staff nurses there is also a hierarchy of seniority . Their job is to give assigned patients all their nursing care .

Why this is plagiarism

Notice that the writer has not only “borrowed” Chase’s material (the results of her research) with no acknowledgment, but has also largely maintained the author’s method of expression and sentence structure. The phrases in red are directly copied from the source or changed only slightly in form.

Even if the student-writer had acknowledged Chase as the source of the content, the language of the passage would be considered plagiarized because no quotation marks indicate the phrases that come directly from Chase. And if quotation marks did appear around all these phrases, this paragraph would be so cluttered that it would be unreadable.

A Patchwork Paraphrase

Chase (1995) describes how nurses in a critical care unit function in a hierarchy that places designated experts at the top and the least senior staff nurses at the bottom. The experts — the nurse manager, nurse clinician, and clinical nurse specialist — are not involved directly in patient care. The staff nurses, in contrast, are assigned to patients and provide all their nursing care . Within the staff nurses is a hierarchy of seniority in which the most senior can become resource nurses: they are assigned a patient but also serve as a resource to other caregivers. The experts have administrative and teaching tasks such as selecting and orienting new staff, developing unit policies , and giving hands-on support where needed.

This paraphrase is a patchwork composed of pieces in the original author’s language (in red) and pieces in the student-writer’s words, all rearranged into a new pattern, but with none of the borrowed pieces in quotation marks. Thus, even though the writer acknowledges the source of the material, the underlined phrases are falsely presented as the student’s own.

A Legitimate Paraphrase

In her study of the roles of nurses in a critical care unit, Chase (1995) also found a hierarchy that distinguished the roles of experts and others. Just as the educational experts described above do not directly teach students, the experts in this unit do not directly attend to patients. That is the role of the staff nurses, who, like teachers, have their own “hierarchy of seniority” (p. 156). The roles of the experts include employing unit nurses and overseeing the care of special patients (nurse manager), teaching and otherwise integrating new personnel into the unit (clinical nurse specialist and nurse clinician), and policy-making (nurse clinician). In an intermediate position in the hierarchy is the resource nurse, a staff nurse with more experience than the others, who assumes direct care of patients as the other staff nurses do, but also takes on tasks to ensure the smooth operation of the entire facility.

Why this is a good paraphrase

The writer has documented Chase’s material and specific language (by direct reference to the author and by quotation marks around language taken directly from the source). Notice too that the writer has modified Chase’s language and structure and has added material to fit the new context and purpose — to present the distinctive functions of experts and nonexperts in several professions.

Shared Language

Perhaps you’ve noticed that a number of phrases from the original passage appear in the legitimate paraphrase: critical care, staff nurses, nurse manager, clinical nurse specialist, nurse clinician, resource nurse.

If all these phrases were in red, the paraphrase would look much like the “patchwork” example. The difference is that the phrases in the legitimate paraphrase are all precise, economical, and conventional designations that are part of the shared language within the nursing discipline (in the too-close paraphrases, they’re red only when used within a longer borrowed phrase).

In every discipline and in certain genres (such as the empirical research report), some phrases are so specialized or conventional that you can’t paraphrase them except by wordy and awkward circumlocutions that would be less familiar (and thus less readable) to the audience.

When you repeat such phrases, you’re not stealing the unique phrasing of an individual writer but using a common vocabulary shared by a community of scholars.

Some Examples of Shared Language You Don’t Need to Put in Quotation Marks

Chase, S. K. (1995). The social context of critical care clinical judgment. Heart and Lung, 24, 154-162.

How to Quote a Source

Introducing a quotation.

One of your jobs as a writer is to guide your reader through your text. Don’t simply drop quotations into your paper and leave it to the reader to make connections.

Integrating a quotation into your text usually involves two elements:

Often both the signal and the assertion appear in a single introductory statement, as in the example below. Notice how a transitional phrase also serves to connect the quotation smoothly to the introductory statement.

Ross (1993), in her study of poor and working-class mothers in London from 1870-1918 [signal], makes it clear that economic status to a large extent determined the meaning of motherhood [assertion]. Among this population [connection], “To mother was to work for and organize household subsistence” (p. 9).

The signal can also come after the assertion, again with a connecting word or phrase:

Illness was rarely a routine matter in the nineteenth century [assertion]. As [connection] Ross observes [signal], “Maternal thinking about children’s health revolved around the possibility of a child’s maiming or death” (p. 166).

Formatting Quotations

Short direct prose.

Incorporate short direct prose quotations into the text of your paper and enclose them in double quotation marks:

According to Jonathan Clarke, “Professional diplomats often say that trying to think diplomatically about foreign policy is a waste of time.”

Longer prose quotations

Begin longer quotations (for instance, in the APA system, 40 words or more) on a new line and indent the entire quotation (i.e., put in block form), with no quotation marks at beginning or end, as in the quoted passage from our Successful vs. Unsucessful Paraphrases page.

Rules about the minimum length of block quotations, how many spaces to indent, and whether to single- or double-space extended quotations vary with different documentation systems; check the guidelines for the system you’re using.

Quotation of Up to 3 Lines of Poetry

Quotations of up to 3 lines of poetry should be integrated into your sentence. For example:

In Julius Caesar, Antony begins his famous speech with “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears; / I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him” (III.ii.75-76).

Notice that a slash (/) with a space on either side is used to separate lines.

Quotation of More than 3 Lines of Poetry

More than 3 lines of poetry should be indented. As with any extended (indented) quotation, do not use quotation marks unless you need to indicate a quotation within your quotation.

Punctuating with Quotation Marks

Parenthetical citations.

With short quotations, place citations outside of closing quotation marks, followed by sentence punctuation (period, question mark, comma, semi-colon, colon):

Menand (2002) characterizes language as “a social weapon” (p. 115).

With block quotations, check the guidelines for the documentation system you are using.

Commas and periods

Place inside closing quotation marks when no parenthetical citation follows:

Hertzberg (2002) notes that “treating the Constitution as imperfect is not new,” but because of Dahl’s credentials, his “apostasy merits attention” (p. 85).

Semicolons and colons

Place outside of closing quotation marks (or after a parenthetical citation).

Question marks and exclamation points

Place inside closing quotation marks if the quotation is a question/exclamation:

Menand (2001) acknowledges that H. W. Fowler’s Modern English Usage is “a classic of the language,” but he asks, “Is it a dead classic?” (p. 114).

[Note that a period still follows the closing parenthesis.]

Place outside of closing quotation marks if the entire sentence containing the quotation is a question or exclamation:

How many students actually read the guide to find out what is meant by “academic misconduct”?

Quotation within a quotation

Use single quotation marks for the embedded quotation:

According to Hertzberg (2002), Dahl gives the U. S. Constitution “bad marks in ‘democratic fairness’ and ‘encouraging consensus'” (p. 90).

[The phrases “democratic fairness” and “encouraging consensus” are already in quotation marks in Dahl’s sentence.]

Indicating Changes in Quotations

Quoting only a portion of the whole.

Use ellipsis points (. . .) to indicate an omission within a quotation–but not at the beginning or end unless it’s not obvious that you’re quoting only a portion of the whole.

Adding Clarification, Comment, or Correction

Within quotations, use square brackets [ ] (not parentheses) to add your own clarification, comment, or correction.

Use [sic] (meaning “so” or “thus”) to indicate that a mistake is in the source you’re quoting and is not your own.

Additional information

Information on summarizing and paraphrasing sources.

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.). (2000). Retrieved January 7, 2002, from http://www.bartleby.com/61/ Bazerman, C. (1995). The informed writer: Using sources in the disciplines (5th ed). Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Leki, I. (1995). Academic writing: Exploring processes and strategies (2nd ed.) New York: St. Martin?s Press, pp. 185-211.

Leki describes the basic method presented in C, pp. 4-5.

Spatt, B. (1999). Writing from sources (5th ed.) New York: St. Martin?s Press, pp. 98-119; 364-371.

Information about specific documentation systems

The Writing Center has handouts explaining how to use many of the standard documentation systems. You may look at our general Web page on Documentation Systems, or you may check out any of the following specific Web pages.

If you’re not sure which documentation system to use, ask the course instructor who assigned your paper.

You may also consult the following guides:

paraphrase cite quotes

Academic and Professional Writing

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Analysis Papers

Reading Poetry

A Short Guide to Close Reading for Literary Analysis

Using Literary Quotations

Play Reviews

Writing a Rhetorical Précis to Analyze Nonfiction Texts

Incorporating Interview Data

Grant Proposals

Planning and Writing a Grant Proposal: The Basics

Additional Resources for Grants and Proposal Writing

Job Materials and Application Essays

Writing Personal Statements for Ph.D. Programs

Resume Writing Tips

CV Writing Tips

Cover Letters

Business Letters

Proposals and Dissertations

Resources for Proposal Writers

Resources for Dissertators

Research Papers

Planning and Writing Research Papers

Writing Annotated Bibliographies

Creating Poster Presentations

Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper

Thank-You Notes

Advice for Students Writing Thank-You Notes to Donors

Reading for a Review

Critical Reviews

Writing a Review of Literature

Scientific Reports

Scientific Report Format

Sample Lab Assignment

Writing for the Web

Writing an Effective Blog Post

Writing for Social Media: A Guide for Academics


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