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What is Paraphrasing?

Examples of paraphrasing.

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Paraphrasing is expressing someone else’s writing in your own choice of words, while keeping the same essential meaning. As Pears and Shields (2019, p. 15) explain, it is ‘ an alternative way of referring to an author’s ideas or arguments without using direct quotations from their text’. 

Paraphrasing is generally more highly valued by academics than direct quoting because it allows you to demonstrate a greater understanding of your source and helps you to maintain your personal writing style and the smooth flow of your essay.

Don’t forget to include in-text citations ( author and date) in the text of your assignment and full references at the end of your assignment every time you paraphrase someone else’s words or ideas.

The example below (Handley and Cox, 2007) shows extracts from two student essays, both based on the same original text. The first extract demonstrates unacceptable paraphrasing and referencing, while the second extract demonstrates acceptable paraphrasing and referencing.

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  • How to Paraphrase | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples

How to Paraphrase | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples

Published on April 8, 2022 by Courtney Gahan and Jack Caulfield. Revised on June 1, 2023.

Paraphrasing means putting someone else’s ideas into your own words. Paraphrasing a source involves changing the wording while preserving the original meaning.

Paraphrasing is an alternative to  quoting (copying someone’s exact words and putting them in quotation marks ). In academic writing, it’s usually better to integrate sources by paraphrasing instead of quoting. It shows that you have understood the source, reads more smoothly, and keeps your own voice front and center.

Every time you paraphrase, it’s important to cite the source . Also take care not to use wording that is too similar to the original. Otherwise, you could be at risk of committing plagiarism .

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referencing when paraphrasing

Table of contents

How to paraphrase in five easy steps, how to paraphrase correctly, examples of paraphrasing, how to cite a paraphrase, paraphrasing vs. quoting, paraphrasing vs. summarizing, avoiding plagiarism when you paraphrase, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about paraphrasing.

If you’re struggling to get to grips with the process of paraphrasing, check out our easy step-by-step guide in the video below.

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referencing when paraphrasing

Putting an idea into your own words can be easier said than done. Let’s say you want to paraphrase the text below, about population decline in a particular species of sea snails.

Incorrect paraphrasing

You might make a first attempt to paraphrase it by swapping out a few words for  synonyms .

Like other sea creatures inhabiting the vicinity of highly populated coasts, horse conchs have lost substantial territory to advancement and contamination , including preferred breeding grounds along mud flats and seagrass beds. Their Gulf home is also heating up due to global warming , which scientists think further puts pressure on the creatures , predicated upon the harmful effects extra warmth has on other large mollusks (Barnett, 2022).

This attempt at paraphrasing doesn’t change the sentence structure or order of information, only some of the word choices. And the synonyms chosen are poor:

  • “Advancement and contamination” doesn’t really convey the same meaning as “development and pollution.”
  • Sometimes the changes make the tone less academic: “home” for “habitat” and “sea creatures” for “marine animals.”
  • Adding phrases like “inhabiting the vicinity of” and “puts pressure on” makes the text needlessly long-winded.
  • Global warming is related to climate change, but they don’t mean exactly the same thing.

Because of this, the text reads awkwardly, is longer than it needs to be, and remains too close to the original phrasing. This means you risk being accused of plagiarism .

Correct paraphrasing

Let’s look at a more effective way of paraphrasing the same text.

Here, we’ve:

  • Only included the information that’s relevant to our argument (note that the paraphrase is shorter than the original)
  • Introduced the information with the signal phrase “Scientists believe that …”
  • Retained key terms like “development and pollution,” since changing them could alter the meaning
  • Structured sentences in our own way instead of copying the structure of the original
  • Started from a different point, presenting information in a different order

Because of this, we’re able to clearly convey the relevant information from the source without sticking too close to the original phrasing.

Explore the tabs below to see examples of paraphrasing in action.

  • Journal article
  • Newspaper article
  • Magazine article

Once you have your perfectly paraphrased text, you need to ensure you credit the original author. You’ll always paraphrase sources in the same way, but you’ll have to use a different type of in-text citation depending on what citation style you follow.

Generate accurate citations with Scribbr

It’s a good idea to paraphrase instead of quoting in most cases because:

  • Paraphrasing shows that you fully understand the meaning of a text
  • Your own voice remains dominant throughout your paper
  • Quotes reduce the readability of your text

But that doesn’t mean you should never quote. Quotes are appropriate when:

  • Giving a precise definition
  • Saying something about the author’s language or style (e.g., in a literary analysis paper)
  • Providing evidence in support of an argument
  • Critiquing or analyzing a specific claim

A paraphrase puts a specific passage into your own words. It’s typically a similar length to the original text, or slightly shorter.

When you boil a longer piece of writing down to the key points, so that the result is a lot shorter than the original, this is called summarizing .

Paraphrasing and quoting are important tools for presenting specific information from sources. But if the information you want to include is more general (e.g., the overarching argument of a whole article), summarizing is more appropriate.

When paraphrasing, you have to be careful to avoid accidental plagiarism .

This can happen if the paraphrase is too similar to the original quote, with phrases or whole sentences that are identical (and should therefore be in quotation marks). It can also happen if you fail to properly cite the source.

Paraphrasing tools are widely used by students, and can be especially useful for non-native speakers who may find academic writing particularly challenging. While these can be helpful for a bit of extra inspiration, use these tools sparingly, keeping academic integrity in mind.

To make sure you’ve properly paraphrased and cited all your sources, you could elect to run a plagiarism check before submitting your paper. And of course, always be sure to read your source material yourself and take the first stab at paraphrasing on your own.

If you want to know more about ChatGPT, AI tools , citation , and plagiarism , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • ChatGPT vs human editor
  • ChatGPT citations
  • Is ChatGPT trustworthy?
  • Using ChatGPT for your studies
  • What is ChatGPT?
  • Chicago style
  • Critical thinking

 Plagiarism

  • Types of plagiarism
  • Self-plagiarism
  • Avoiding plagiarism
  • Academic integrity
  • Consequences of plagiarism
  • Common knowledge

To paraphrase effectively, don’t just take the original sentence and swap out some of the words for synonyms. Instead, try:

  • Reformulating the sentence (e.g., change active to passive , or start from a different point)
  • Combining information from multiple sentences into one
  • Leaving out information from the original that isn’t relevant to your point
  • Using synonyms where they don’t distort the meaning

The main point is to ensure you don’t just copy the structure of the original text, but instead reformulate the idea in your own words.

Paraphrasing without crediting the original author is a form of plagiarism , because you’re presenting someone else’s ideas as if they were your own.

However, paraphrasing is not plagiarism if you correctly cite the source . This means including an in-text citation and a full reference, formatted according to your required citation style .

As well as citing, make sure that any paraphrased text is completely rewritten in your own words.

Plagiarism means using someone else’s words or ideas and passing them off as your own. Paraphrasing means putting someone else’s ideas in your own words.

So when does paraphrasing count as plagiarism?

  • Paraphrasing is plagiarism if you don’t properly credit the original author.
  • Paraphrasing is plagiarism if your text is too close to the original wording (even if you cite the source). If you directly copy a sentence or phrase, you should quote it instead.
  • Paraphrasing  is not plagiarism if you put the author’s ideas completely in your own words and properly cite the source .

To present information from other sources in academic writing , it’s best to paraphrase in most cases. This shows that you’ve understood the ideas you’re discussing and incorporates them into your text smoothly.

It’s appropriate to quote when:

  • Changing the phrasing would distort the meaning of the original text
  • You want to discuss the author’s language choices (e.g., in literary analysis )
  • You’re presenting a precise definition
  • You’re looking in depth at a specific claim

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If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Gahan, C. & Caulfield, J. (2023, June 01). How to Paraphrase | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved February 12, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/working-with-sources/how-to-paraphrase/

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APA Citation Guide (7th edition) : Paraphrasing

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Paraphrasing examples.

  • In-Text Citation for More Than One Author

In-Text Citation for Group or Corporate Authors

No author and/or no date.

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:

Mother-infant attachment became a leading topic of developmental research following the publication of John Bowlby's studies (Hunt, 1993).

Note : 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:

Hunt (1993) noted that mother-infant attachment became a leading topic of developmental research after the publication of John Bowlby's studies.

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

The homeless come from families with problems. Frequently, they have been physically or sexually abused, or have lived in group homes. Usually no one cares for them or knows them intimately (Rokach, 2005). 

Note : In this incorrect example the writing is too similar to the original source. The student only changed or removed a few words and has not phrased the ideas in a new way. 

Example: Correct Paraphrasing

Many homeless experience isolation in part due to suffering from abuse or neglect during their childhood (Rokach, 2005).

Note : The example keeps the idea of the original writing but phrases it in a new way.

In-Text Citation For Two or More Authors/Editors

No Known Author:

Note that in most cases where a personal author is not named, a group author may be cited instead (eg. Statistics Canada). However, in certain cases, such as religious ancient texts, the author is unknown. Where you'd normally put the author's last name, instead use the first one, two, or three words from the title. Don't count initial articles like "A", "An" or "The". You should provide enough words to make it clear which work you're referring to from your References List.

If the title in the References list is in italics, italicize the words from the title in the in-text citation.

If you are citing an article, a chapter of a book or a page from a website, put the words in double quotation marks.

Capitalize the titles using title case (every major word is capitalized) even if the reference list entry uses sentence case (only first word is capitalized).

( Cell Biology , 2012, p. 157)

("Nursing," 2011, p. 9)

No Known Date of Publication :

Where you'd normally put the year of publication, instead use the letters "n.d.".

(Smith, n.d., p. 200)

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APA Citation Style, 7th Edition: In-Text Citations & Paraphrasing

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When do I use in-text citations?

When should you add in-text citations in your paper .

There are several rules of thumb you can follow to make sure that you are citing your paper correctly in APA 7 format. 

  • Think of your paper broken up into paragraphs. When you start a paragraph, the first time you add a sentence that has been paraphrased from a reference -> that's when you need to add an in-text citation. 
  • Continue writing your paragraph, you do NOT need to add another in-text citation until: 1) You are paraphrasing from a NEW source, which means you need to cite NEW information OR 2) You need to cite a DIRECT quote, which includes a page number, paragraph number or Section title. 
  • Important to remember : You DO NOT need to add an in-text citation after EVERY sentence of your paragraph. 

Paragraph Rules of Thumb: Cite after 1st paraphrase, continue writing, add a new cite for a new source or a direct quote.

What do in-text citations look like?

In-text citation styles: , let's look at these examples if they were written in text: .

An example with 1 author:

Parenthetical citation:  Following American Psychological Association (APA) style guidelines will help you to cultivate your own unique academic voice as an expert in your field (Forbes, 2020). 

Narrative citation : Forbes (2020) shared that by following American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines, students would learn to find their own voice as experts in the field of nursing. 

An example with 2 authors: 

Parenthetical citation: Research on the use of progressive muscle relaxation for stress reduction has demonstrated the efficacy of the method (Bennett & Miller, 2019). 

Narrative citation: As shared by Bennett and Miller (2019), research on the use of progressive muscle relaxation for stress reduction has demonstrated the efficacy of the method. 

An example with 3 authors: 

Parenthetical citation: Guided imagery has also been shown to reduce stress, length of hospital stay, and symptoms related to medical and psychological conditions (Jones et al., 2020).

Narrative citation: Jones et al. (2020) shared that guided imagery has also been shown to reduce stress, length of hospital stay, and symptoms related to medical and psychological conditions. 

An example with a group/corporate author: 

Parenthetical citation: Dr. Philip G. Rogers, senior vice president at the American Council on Education, was recently elected as the newest chancellor of the university (East Carolina University, 2020). 

Narrative citation: Recently shared on the East Carolina University (2020) website, Dr. Philip G. Rogers, senior vice president at the American Council on Education, was elected as the newest chancellor. 

Tips on Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is recreating someone else's ideas into your own words & thoughts, without changing the original meaning (gahan, 2020).  .

Here are some best practices when you are paraphrasing: 

  • How do I learn to paraphrase? IF you are thoroughly reading and researching articles or book chapters for a paper, you will start to take notes in your own words . Those notes are the beginning of paraphrased information.
  • Read the original information, PUT IT AWAY, then rewrite the ideas in your own words . This is hard to do at first, it takes practice, but this is how you start to paraphrase. 
  • It's usually better to paraphrase, than to use too many direct quotes. 
  • When you start to paraphrase, cite your source. 
  • Make sure not to use language that is TOO close to the original, so that you are not committing plagiarism. 
  • Use theasaurus.com to help you come up with like/similar phrases if you are struggling. 
  • Paraphrasing (vs. using direct quotes) is important because it shows that YOU ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND the information you are reading. 
  • Paraphrasing ALLOWS YOUR VOICE to be prevalent in your writing. 
  • The best time to use direct quotes is when you need to give an exact definition, provide specific evidence, or if you need to use the original writer's terminology. 
  • BEST PRACTICE PER PARAGRAPH: On your 1st paraphrase of a source, CITE IT. There is no need to add another in-text citation until you use a different source, OR, until you use a direct quote. 

References : 

Gahan, C. (2020, October 15). How to paraphrase sources . Scribbr.com .   https://tinyurl.com/y7ssxc6g  

Citing Direct Quotes

When should i use a direct quote in my paper .

Direct quotes should only be used occasionally: 

  • When you need to share an exact definition 
  • When you want to provide specific evidence or information that cannot be paraphrased
  • When you want to use the original writer's terminology

From:  https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/whaddyamean/ 

Definitions of direct quotes: 

  • Western Oregon University's APA Guidelines on Direct Quotes This is an excellent quick tutorial on how to format direct quotes in APA 7th edition. Bookmark this page for future reference!

Carrie Forbes, MLS

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Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting

Depending on the conventions of your discipline, you may have to decide whether to summarize a source, paraphrase a source, or quote from a source.

Scholars in the humanities tend to summarize, paraphrase, and quote texts; social scientists and natural scientists rely primarily on summary and paraphrase.

When and how to summarize

When you summarize, you provide your readers with a condensed version of an author's key points. A summary can be as short as a few sentences or much longer, depending on the complexity of the text and the level of detail you wish to provide to your readers. You will need to summarize a source in your paper when you are going to refer to that source and you want your readers to understand the source's argument, main ideas, or plot (if the source is a novel, film, or play) before you lay out your own argument about it, analysis of it, or response to it.

Before you summarize a source in your paper, you should decide what your reader needs to know about that source in order to understand your argument. For example, if you are making an argument about a novel, you should avoid filling pages of your paper with details from the book that will distract or confuse your reader. Instead, you should add details sparingly, going only into the depth that is necessary for your reader to understand and appreciate your argument. Similarly, if you are writing a paper about a journal article, you will need to highlight the most relevant parts of the argument for your reader, but you should not include all of the background information and examples. When you have to decide how much summary to put in a paper, it's a good idea to consult your instructor about whether you are supposed to assume your reader's knowledge of the sources.

Guidelines for summarizing a source in your paper

  • Identify the author and the source.
  • Represent the original source accurately.
  • Present the source’s central claim clearly.
  • Don’t summarize each point in the same order as the original source; focus on giving your reader the most important parts of the source
  • Use your own words. Don’t provide a long quotation in the summary unless the actual language from the source is going to be important for your reader to see.

Stanley Milgram (1974) reports that ordinarily compassionate people will be cruel to each other if they are commanded to be by an authority figure. In his experiment, a group of participants were asked to administer electric shocks to people who made errors on a simple test. In spite of signs that those receiving shock were experiencing great physical pain, 25 of 40 subjects continued to administer electric shocks. These results held up for each group of people tested, no matter the demographic. The transcripts of conversations from the experiment reveal that although many of the participants felt increasingly uncomfortable, they continued to obey the experimenter, often showing great deference for the experimenter. Milgram suggests that when people feel responsible for carrying out the wishes of an authority figure, they do not feel responsible for the actual actions they are performing. He concludes that the increasing division of labor in society encourages people to focus on a small task and eschew responsibility for anything they do not directly control.

This summary of Stanley Milgram's 1974 essay, "The Perils of Obedience," provides a brief overview of Milgram's 12-page essay, along with an APA style parenthetical citation. You would write this type of summary if you were discussing Milgram's experiment in a paper in which you were not supposed to assume your reader's knowledge of the sources. Depending on your assignment, your summary might be even shorter.

When you include a summary of a paper in your essay, you must cite the source. If you were using APA style in your paper, you would include a parenthetical citation in the summary, and you would also include a full citation in your reference list at the end of your paper. For the essay by Stanley Milgram, your citation in your references list would include the following information:

Milgram, S. (1974). The perils of obedience. In L.G. Kirszner & S.R. Mandell (Eds.), The Blair reader (pp.725-737).

When and how to paraphrase

When you paraphrase from a source, you restate the source's ideas in your own words. Whereas a summary provides your readers with a condensed overview of a source (or part of a source), a paraphrase of a source offers your readers the same level of detail provided in the original source. Therefore, while a summary will be shorter than the original source material, a paraphrase will generally be about the same length as the original source material.

When you use any part of a source in your paper—as background information, as evidence, as a counterargument to which you plan to respond, or in any other form—you will always need to decide whether to quote directly from the source or to paraphrase it. Unless you have a good reason to quote directly from the source , you should paraphrase the source. Any time you paraphrase an author's words and ideas in your paper, you should make it clear to your reader why you are presenting this particular material from a source at this point in your paper. You should also make sure you have represented the author accurately, that you have used your own words consistently, and that you have cited the source.

This paraphrase below restates one of Milgram's points in the author's own words. When you paraphrase, you should always cite the source. This paraphrase uses the APA in-text citation style. Every source you paraphrase should also be included in your list of references at the end of your paper. For citation format information go to the Citing Sources section of this guide.

Source material

The problem of obedience is not wholly psychological. The form and shape of society and the way it is developing have much to do with it. There was a time, perhaps, when people were able to give a fully human response to any situation because they were fully absorbed in it as human beings. But as soon as there was a division of labor things changed.

--Stanley Milgram, "The Perils of Obedience," p.737.

Milgram, S. (1974). The perils of obedience. In L.G. Kirszner & S.R. Mandell (Eds.), The Blair reader (pp.725-737). Prentice Hall.

Milgram (1974) claims that people's willingness to obey authority figures cannot be explained by psychological factors alone. In an earlier era, people may have had the ability to invest in social situations to a greater extent. However, as society has become increasingly structured by a division of labor, people have become more alienated from situations over which they do not have control (p.737).

When and how much to quote

The basic rule in all disciplines is that you should only quote directly from a text when it's important for your reader to see the actual language used by the author of the source. While paraphrase and summary are effective ways to introduce your reader to someone's ideas, quoting directly from a text allows you to introduce your reader to the way those ideas are expressed by showing such details as language, syntax, and cadence.

So, for example, it may be important for a reader to see a passage of text quoted directly from Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried if you plan to analyze the language of that passage in order to support your thesis about the book. On the other hand, if you're writing a paper in which you're making a claim about the reading habits of American elementary school students or reviewing the current research on Wilson's disease, the information you’re providing from sources will often be more important than the exact words. In those cases, you should paraphrase rather than quoting directly. Whether you quote from your source or paraphrase it, be sure to provide a citation for your source, using the correct format. (see Citing Sources section)

You should use quotations in the following situations:

  • When you plan to discuss the actual language of a text.
  • When you are discussing an author's position or theory, and you plan to discuss the wording of a core assertion or kernel of the argument in your paper.
  • When you risk losing the essence of the author's ideas in the translation from their words to your own.
  • When you want to appeal to the authority of the author and using their words will emphasize that authority.

Once you have decided to quote part of a text, you'll need to decide whether you are going to quote a long passage (a block quotation) or a short passage (a sentence or two within the text of your essay). Unless you are planning to do something substantive with a long quotation—to analyze the language in detail or otherwise break it down—you should not use block quotations in your essay. While long quotations will stretch your page limit, they don't add anything to your argument unless you also spend time discussing them in a way that illuminates a point you're making. Unless you are giving your readers something they need to appreciate your argument, you should use quotations sparingly.

When you quote from a source, you should make sure to cite the source either with an in-text citation or a note, depending on which citation style you are using.  The passage below, drawn from O’Brien’s  The Things They Carried , uses an MLA-style citation.

On the morning after Ted Lavender died, First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross crouched at the bottom of his foxhole and burned Martha's letters. Then he burned the two photographs. There was a steady rain falling, which made it difficult, but he used heat tabs and Sterno to build a small fire, screening it with his body holding the photographs over the tight blue flame with the tip of his fingers.

He realized it was only a gesture. Stupid, he thought. Sentimental, too, but mostly just stupid. (23)

O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried . New York: Broadway Books, 1990.

Even as Jimmy Cross burns Martha's letters, he realizes that "it was only a gesture. Stupid, he thought. Sentimental too, but mostly just stupid" (23).

If you were writing a paper about O'Brien's The Things They Carried in which you analyzed Cross's decision to burn Martha's letters and stop thinking about her, you might want your reader to see the language O'Brien uses to illustrate Cross's inner conflict. If you were planning to analyze the passage in which O'Brien calls Cross's realization stupid, sentimental, and then stupid again, you would want your reader to see the original language.

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In text citations

There are 2 ways to reference in-text: Paraphrasing or direct quotes.

Paraphrasing is when you take another person's ideas, extract and summarise the important points and then making it clear from whom and where you have got the ideas you are discussing and what your point of view is.

For example: Marshall (2020) argue that students who are active learners and take responsibility for their learning can challenge themselves. 

OR Students who are active learners and take responsibility for their learning can challenge themselves ( Marshall , 2020). 

Marshall, S. (Ed.). (2020). A handbook for teaching and learning in higher education: Enhancing academic practice  (5th ed.).   Routledge.

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ACAP

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Running text (Author, Date). Author (Date) running text.

Parenthetical Format . The citation can appear within or at the end of a sentence and includes the author and date separated by a comma. If at the end of a sentence a full stop is placed after the citation.  Growth occurs at every stage of life (Newman & Newman, 2017). Case study research does not employ the scientific method (Barlow et al., 2017) although it is an important tool for qualitative researchers (Travers, 2001). Narrative Format . The author is used as part of the text, the date appears directly after the author in parentheses. If the date is used as a part of the text, just separate the author and date with a comma.  As discussed by Newman and Newman (2017), growth occurs at every stage of life. In 2019, Hiscock et al. pointed out that half of Australian children and adolescents who experienced mental health issues did not receive professional treatment.

Common Examples

Long Paraphrases & Paragraphs

When paraphrasing or summarising using one source over several sentences or even a whole paragraph, cite the source in the first sentence. There is no need to cite the work again in this paragraph provided it is clear that this is the only source being paraphrased. The  APA Style and Grammar Guidelines provide this example:

          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. 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.

You must reintroduce the citation if the paraphrase continues across multiple paragraphs.  If the paragraph or sentence contains information from multiple sources, then cite as often as required to make sure the source is clearly acknowledged. The  APA Style and Grammar Guidelines provide this example:

           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).

Academic Writer Tutorial: Paraphrasing & Quoting

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Paraphrasing & Citation

Return to Student Resources

Plagiarism is using someone else's words or ideas without giving proper credit. It can take many forms, including the following:

  • Omitting documentation of a source
  • Inadequately documenting the words or ideas you are using
  • Closely paraphrasing the writing of another person without documentation

Remember, an author deserves credit for their ideas as well as their sentence structure, word choice, and sequence of thoughts. Changing several words in someone else's sentence does not make that sentence or idea your own.

If you are unsure if something you've written constitutes plagiarism or you would like more tips on how to avoid plagiarism, feel free to visit us in the Writing Center. You can also check your department's website for guidance. For Swarthmore's official policy on academic honesty, see the Academic Freedom and Responsibility section of the Swarthmore College Student Handbook Academic Policies .

Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is putting another person's ideas in your own words. It is useful to paraphrase when your reader needs to understand or be exposed to the argument of another author in order to understand your argument. Paraphrasing ALWAYS requires a citation. Even if you are using your own words, the idea still belongs to someone else.

Sometimes there is a fine line between paraphrasing and plagiarizing someone's writing. Here's one strategy for paraphrasing effectively: read over the paragraph of interest. Then close the book or turn the page of the article and write a short summary. If you're still stuck with the author's language and sequence of thoughts, wait a few hours and try again. Once you have internalized the author's ideas, you will be able to express them in your own words. One of the keys to paraphrasing effectively is applying what you have learned instead of simply duplicating another author's writing or ideas in your paper.

If you're having trouble getting away from an author's exact words, you might want to simply include their exact words as a quotation with proper citations. Sometimes you can't express the same thought any other way because the precise meaning is lost when the phrasing is changed. There is nothing wrong with directly citing a source when you need to.

Common Knowledge

There are a few situations in which source material does not need an accompanying citation. It's very important to know when omitting a citation is acceptable. If you're not sure, consult your professor or the Writing Center.

Two common situations when you shouldn't cite a source are:

  • When the information you are providing is "common knowledge," which means that someone could easily find the information in multiple reference texts. For example, stating that George Washington was president from 1789-1797 does not require a citation because the reader could easily find this information in any encyclopedia or American history book. The particular book you used is not significant.
  • When the information you are providing is considered common knowledge in your field and you are writing for colleagues in that field, you shouldn't burden them with citations for commonly known theories and ideas. In Rules for Writers, Diana Hacker gives two examples: the current population of the United States could be common knowledge in the fields of sociology and economics, and Freud's theory of the unconscious could be common knowledge in psychology.

Citations allow you to give credit where credit is due. They also help your readers to track down your sources easily. For citations to serve their purpose (and for you to avoid plagiarism), it is imperative that you cite correctly and completely. Your choice of citation format may depend on specifications from your instructor, conventions for your discipline, or your personal preference.

The Writing Center library (Trotter 120) contains books that provide citation instructions, including the MLA Handbook, ACS Style Guide, APA guidelines, and multiple books from the Short Guide to Writing About... series. The reference librarians in McCabe and Cornell can help you format citations correctly. Also, many departments offer guidelines for citation. Check department websites or ask your professor.

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Harvard Referencing

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Summarising

Summarising involves repeating the main ideas of a passage in your own words.  A summary concentrates on the important points rather than the details.

Original text

'... in order to learn consumers' views on beauty, Dove surveyed girls and women in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.  Some of the results were disturbing; for example, in Britain, more than half of those surveyed said their bodies "disgusted" them.  Six out of ten girls believed they would be happier if they were thinner, but actually fewer than two out of ten were in fact overweight.  Apparently, fashion's images of artificially curvaceous models and celebrities had wreaked not a little havoc on young self-concepts.'

Example of a summary   (1)

The results of a recent survey by Dove of girls and women in Britain indicated that many of the younger respondants had negative attitudes to their bodies and wanted to be thinner, even though a large proportion of them were not overweight (Rath, Bay, Petrizzi & Gill 2008, p. 139).

OR  (2)

Rath, Bay, Petrizzi and Gill (2008, p. 139) report that the results of a survey by Dove of young girls and women in Britain indicate that many young girls have false ideas about whether they are overweight or not. 

Summarising a substantial section or chapter of a book or a complete book: 

The Nazis attempted to control fashions in order to communicate a wide range of propoganda messages (Guenther 2004).

  OR  (3)

In a recent book, Guenther (2004) demonstrates the ways in which the Nazis used women's fashions to strengthen certain images of their ideal world.

Points to note :

There are different ways you can incorporate an in-text citation into your work. Usually, the author's surname/s, the date and page numbers (if necessary) appear in brackets - as in (1) above, but if you want to use the author's name/s  as part of your sentance you can do so as in examples (2) and (3) above.

Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is expressing what an author writes in another way. 

'For the times when silk stocking were not be had "for love or money," women had to make do.'

Example of a paraphrase

As Kirkham (2005, p. 221) points out, during the War there were times when silk stockings could not be obtained by any means and so women were forced to find alternatives.

During the War, when silk stockings were often not available at all, women were forced to find alternatives (Kirkham 2005, p. 221).

'A lifecycle inventory study confirmed that the use of the b-pak produces lower environmental burdens than a glass wine bottle.'

A b-pak is a more environmentally friendly container for wine than the traditional bottle (Evans 2007, p. 130).

As Evans (2007, p. 130) points out, the b-pak has a smaller environmental impact than a traditional wine bottle.

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

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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

  • APA guide  (Shapiro Library)

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:

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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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Citing references

  • Introduction
  • When should I include a reference?

Where does my own thinking come in?

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

  • Writing citations
  • Citation examples (Harvard style)
  • Compiling a reference list or bibliography
  • Different styles & systems of referencing
  • Which style does your School/Department use?
  • Avoiding unintentional plagiarism
  • Using Turnitin to develop your referencing
  • Managing your references
  • Getting help

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

  • Video guide to using 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.

If you are unable to view this video on YouTube it is also available on YuJa - view the How to use long and short quotes video on YuJa (University username and password required)

  • Using long and short quotes (transcript) Read along while watching the video tutorial.
  • How to paraphrase
  • Video guide to paraphrasing

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.

If you are unable to view this video on YouTube it is also available on YuJa - view the Using paraphrases video on YuJa (University username and password required)

  • Using paraphrases (transcript) Read along while watching the video tutorial.

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.

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Home / Guides / Citation Guides / APA Format / Paraphrasing in APA

Paraphrasing in APA

Paraphrasing is the art of putting information into your own words while writing a research paper, in order to maintain the academic integrity of your project. This is important because you need to use solid evidence as a researcher, but you need to put information into the proper format to avoid plagiarism. The American Psychological Association (APA) created a writing style in 1929 that calls for uniformity and consistency in giving credit to sources in your research.

How to properly paraphrase

If you do not properly paraphrase your source material following the APA style, you are at the risk of losing credibility as a writer and possibly plagiarizing. Although paraphrasing is not difficult, it does take time and a little forethought to do it correctly. There are several steps you should follow in order to achieve success.

1. Read the original source

The first step in creating an effective paraphrase is to carefully read the original source. Read it the first time to get the overall understanding, and then do a second closer reading in order to gather details and material that will help you formulate your argument.

2. Take notes in your own words

After reading the original source and determining what details can help you formulate your argument, take a minute to jot down some notes. Be careful to put everything into your own words. Change the structure of the sentence as well as the vocabulary.

Also, take a moment to take notes on the context of the source. Why was it written? Who wrote it? When was it written?

3. Construct a paraphrase

In order to construct a paraphrase, you need to include the same information, but with different sentence structure and different vocabulary. APA rules say that a paraphrase should be approximately the same length as the original.

You also need to add contextual text around the paraphrase so it fits within your paper.

4. Double check the original source to avoid duplication

Although an extra step, it is always a good idea to read through the original source one more time to make sure that you have chosen different words and varied the sentence structure. This is a good time to add the APA requirements of author and year of the source so that you have it handy.

5. Include an APA in-text citation

Even though you are putting a paraphrase into your own words, APA requires an in-text citation for paraphrasing. You can create a parenthetical citation or a narrative citation to accomplish this.

Remember: All in-text citations will also need a corresponding APA reference in the APA reference page . For this article, we’re just focusing on in-text citations in paraphrases.

For both types of in-text citation, you will need the following source information:

  • Author’s last name
  • Year published
  • single page: p. #
  • page range: pp. #-#

Parenthetical citation

For an APA parenthetical citation , write your paraphrase and then add the author and year in parenthesis at the end. Use a comma between the author and the year inside the parenthesis, and put the period for the end of the sentence outside the parenthesis.

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming? (Key, 1814).

My parents traveled from Italy to Germany and then France. As the oldest child, I traveled with them after being born in Naples. They were very close, and shared that love they had for each other with me (Shelley, 1818, p. 78).

Narrative citation

In a narrative citation, you introduce the author’s name as part of the sentence, and put the year in parenthesis.

Francis Scott Key (1814) wrote very special words while overlooking a battle: Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light, what so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?

For further details, visit this guide on APA in-text citations.

Paraphrasing example

Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave an inaugural address in January 1933 during the Great Depression. This is an excerpt taken from an online source :

This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper….

1. Read original source text

In order to paraphrase, read through the text once to get the gist of it, and then again for deeper understanding. The context of this passage is also significant. It was given by a U.S. president during the Great Depression. What do you think he was trying to achieve?

Next take notes in your own words. Without immediately looking at the text, jot down what you think is the main point or concept of it. Next, take notes on the context of the source (you can look at the source for this).

For this passage, a few example notes could be:

  • Facing truth
  • Harsh current reality
  • Believing that this great nation will endure and eventually prosper again
  • Speech by President Roosevelt in 1933
  • Given during the Great Depression
  • He was addressing his citizens

Now’s the time to construct the paraphrase. Based on the notes above, a paraphrase would look something like this:

With his inaugural speech, Roosevelt was carefully trying to prepare citizens of the Nation to face the harsh reality that the Great Depression had caused, while also reassuring them that the country would endure and eventually prosper again.

4. Double check with the original source

The paraphrase above doesn’t not look too similar to the original, but we could still change a few words that were also in the original phrase (like “Nation,” “endure,” and “prosper). Revised, it looks like this:

With his inaugural speech, Roosevelt was carefully trying to prepare citizens of the United States to face the harsh reality that the Great Depression had caused, while also reassuring them that the country would eventually bounce back .

5. Add an APA in-text citation

An APA in-text citation means including the source’s author, year published, and page numbers (if available). The paraphrase already has the author’s name, but the year published needs to be added in parentheses. This is from an online source so no page number is needed.

With his inaugural speech, Roosevelt (1933) was carefully trying to prepare citizens of the United States to face the harsh reality that the Great Depression had caused, while also reassuring them that the country would eventually bounce back.

Examples of poor paraphrasing

Most people who fail at paraphrasing use the same sentence as the original source, and just change a word or two. If this is the case, the paraphrase would look something like this:

This great country will endure as it has endured, will come back to life and will prosper. So, first of all, let me show my strong belief that the only thing we have to worry about is fear itself…”

Another problem with paraphrasing occurs when you do half the job. Although the first and third sentences change the sentence structure and vocabulary in the sample below, there are some sections that are taken word-for-word from the original.

“From Italy they visited Germany and France. I, their eldest child, was born at Naples, and as an infant accompanied them in their rambles. I remained for several years their only child. Much as they were attached to each other, they seemed to draw inexhaustible stores of affection from a very mine of love to bestow them upon me.

Paraphrase:

My parents visited Italy and then Germany and France. I, their eldest child, was born at Naples. I traveled with them and was their only child for a few years. They loved each other and they seemed to draw inexhaustible stores of affection from a very mine of love.

In addition to the word-for-word similarities, this paraphrase doesn’t mention the original source’s author, year published, or page number (Shelley, 1818, p. 78).

Key takeaways

  • In order to avoid plagiarism, APA delineates the way to give credit to sources when you are paraphrasing.
  • In APA style, parenthetical citations demand the author and year of source.
  • In order to create a stellar paraphrase, you need to change the structure and the words, but keep the main idea intact.

Published October 28, 2020.

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How to Cite a Paraphrased Statement

Last Updated: December 9, 2022 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Jennifer Mueller, JD . Jennifer Mueller is a wikiHow Content Creator. She specializes in reviewing, fact-checking, and evaluating wikiHow's content to ensure thoroughness and accuracy. Jennifer holds a JD from Indiana University Maurer School of Law in 2006. There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 42,094 times. Learn more...

When you write a research paper, you integrate material from outside sources with your own thoughts or ideas about a topic. Generally, use an in-text citation for anything other than your original words. A paraphrased statement, generally, is cited the same way a direct quote would be. The in-text citation directs your readers to the reference list at the end of your paper, which provides a more detailed description of the source material used. The specific format of your in-text citations and your reference list varies depending on which citation style you use. [1] X Research source

Placing Citations in Text

Step 1 Provide a citation for all information pulled from another source.

  • You don't have to cite commonly known and accepted facts. However, you always need to cite ideas. If you're not sure whether a fact is commonly known or not, err on the side of caution and provide a citation.
  • In most cases, the in-text citation falls at the end of the sentence that contains the information from the source. Some citation styles, however, require the citation immediately after the paraphrased information, even if that happens to be in the middle of a sentence.

Step 2 Follow the formatting guidelines for your citation style.

  • Modern Language Association (MLA) style uses an author-page number format for parenthetical citations in the body of your paper. If the source isn't paginated, simply leave that part out and include only the author's last name.
  • American Psychological Association (APA) style uses an author-date format for parenthetical citations in the body of your paper. [4] X Research source
  • The Chicago style accepts 2 different methods of in-text citation. You may either use the author-date format, similar to APA style, or you may have footnotes and a bibliography. Chicago-style footnotes include the same information as the full citation in the bibliography, but with slightly different formatting. [5] X Research source

Step 3 Cite after every sentence with a quote or paraphrase.

  • The only exception to this rule is a longer block quote set off from the rest of your text. A block quote only requires one citation, at the very end.
  • Generally, you want to avoid having several sentences in a row that paraphrase from the same source. Type a sentence paraphrasing from the source, then add your own thoughts or analysis of that information in the next sentence.

Step 4 Separate multiple sources with semi-colons.

  • You can also use this format to indicate several sources with more information about a topic that is related to your topic, but beyond the scope of your research. You generally don't have to include full citations to such sources in your reference list.

Step 5 Include a page number for direct quotes.

  • If the source is not paginated, some styles require you to use an abbreviation, such as "n.p." Check your style guide to be sure.
  • MLA and Chicago, among other styles, do not require the abbreviation "p." or "pp." before page numbers. However, APA and others do.
  • If you're citing a video or audio recording that has a runtime, include the timestamp range for the specific material you're quoting. [10] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source

Step 6 Use signal phrases in your text wherever possible.

  • Example sentence with signal phrase, APA style: Jones (1998) found "students often had difficulty using APA style" (p. 199).
  • Same sentence without signal phrase, APA style: Research has shown that "students often had difficulty using APA style" (Jones, 1998, p. 199).

Creating a Reference List

Step 1 Build your reference list before you draft your paper.

  • Your reference list (also called a bibliography or "Works Cited") includes a full citation for every research source you used for your research project. If you compile the list before you start writing, the writing process will be less disjointed, and you'll run less of a risk of leaving something off.
  • Once you finish writing your paper, go through it and place a mark next to each reference on your reference list that appears in an in-text citation. If any of the sources on your reference list are unmarked, remove them from your reference list.

Step 2 Format your reference list according to style guidelines.

  • Look over the rules before you start building your reference list, especially if you're using a different style for the first time.
  • If the rules seem confusing, ask your instructor or a reference librarian for a sample reference list written using that style.

Step 3 Include an entry for every source cited in your paper.

  • For most common citation styles, sources are listed in alphabetical order by the first word in the full citation (usually the author's last name). If you happen to use more than one work by the same author, list them in chronological order starting with the earliest publication date.
  • In rare instances, you may need to include a source in your references that you never cited in the text of your paper. For example, if you're writing a paper about dictatorial regimes and describe them as "Orwellian," you may want to include George Orwell's novel 1984 in your reference list, even though you never cited the novel directly. [15] X Research source

Quoting or Paraphrasing a Source

Step 1 Take abbreviated notes as you read a source.

  • Try to avoid looking at the source at all while you're writing. You might inadvertently plagiarize the original content – especially if the author is a particularly efficient writer. Look at the original passage after you've finished your paraphrase to ensure your wording is sufficiently different.

Step 2 Change the structure of the original passage.

  • For example, suppose your source says "Students have difficulty with new citation styles, usually because they didn't buy a copy of the style guide or ask their instructors enough questions." You can move the start to the middle and paraphrase to say "When students don't have their own copy of the style guide, they have more difficulty adapting to a new citation style."

Step 3 Use synonyms to further distance your paraphrase from the original.

  • For example, suppose your source equates EU import rules with "trade protectionism" rather than "reasonable consumer protection." An effective paraphrase could state "EU import rules seem to benefit EU companies more than consumers."
  • After you've changed the structure of the original passage, go back to the source and underline all phrases in your paraphrase that are identical to the original. Try to change as many of these as possible.
  • You can use a thesaurus to find alternate words, but stay away from direct synonyms. For example, if the original source uses the word "feline," changing that word to "cat" won't necessarily help improve your paraphrase.

Step 4 Place quotation marks around unique phrases.

  • Example: It would be easy for US companies to conclude that EU import restrictions and labeling rules amount to "trade protectionism," because they do little to assist consumers.

Step 5 Quote the source directly if the passage is unique or compelling.

  • Different styles vary in how long a direct quote can be before you have to set it off as a block quote. Generally, you can quote in line with your text if the quote is fewer than 40 words, or the equivalent of a line or two of text.

Step 6 Separate longer quotes from the main text.

  • When you use a block quote, you only need a citation at the end of the block, regardless of how many sentences you quote.
  • Generally, block quotes should be limited. Only use them if absolutely necessary, and try to limit the length to 3 or 4 sentences at the most.

Expert Q&A

You might also like.

Cite the WHO in APA

  • ↑ https://pitt.libguides.com/citationhelp
  • ↑ https://libanswers.snhu.edu/faq/102912
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_in_text_citations_the_basics.html
  • ↑ https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/citations/paraphrasing
  • ↑ http://liu.cwp.libguides.com/c.php?g=45846&p=291624
  • ↑ http://askus.baker.edu/faq/217530
  • ↑ https://guides.libraries.psu.edu/mlacitation/intext
  • ↑ https://butlercc.libguides.com/mla/intext
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/reference_list_basic_rules.html
  • ↑ https://pr.princeton.edu/pub/integrity/pages/cite/
  • ↑ https://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/QPA_paraphrase2.html
  • ↑ https://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/QPA_paraphrase.html

About This Article

Jennifer Mueller, JD

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Harvard referencing handbook (2nd edition)

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You need to give an in-text citation whenever you quote, paraphrase or summarise an information source.

Click on the options below for more information.

  • Paraphrasing
  • Summarising

Quoting is copying a short section of text, word for word, directly from an information source into your work. 

1.  Short quotes should:

  • have double quotation marks at the beginning and end of the text
  • be followed with the in-text citation
  • have ellipses (...) if you omit part of the text.

An example of a short quotation:

...it has frequently been identified that "the search for unattainable perfect could mean missing deadlines" (Williams and Reid, 2011, 94).  The implication of this is...​

2. Long quotations are generally longer than two lines.  You should:

  • start the quotation on a new line
  • indent the quotation
  • follow the quotation with the in-text citation
  • start your analysis of the quotation on a new line

An example of a long quotation:

When discussing your findings it is essential that you follow a pattern:

"The important point to remember is that in your review you should present a logical argument...justifying both the need for work and the methodology that is going to be used" (Ridley, 2012, 100).

Without this structure you will struggle to...

Paraphrasing is when you put a short section of text from an information source into your own words.  Although the words are your own, you are still using ideas from the original text.  You must acknowledge the source with an in-text citation.

Summarising gives a broad overview of an information source.  It describes the main ideas in your own words.  You must acknowledge the source with an in-text citation.

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Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

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Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

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:

  • Provide support for claims or add credibility to your writing
  • Refer to work that leads up to the work you are now doing
  • Give examples of several points of view on a subject
  • Call attention to a position that you wish to agree or disagree with
  • Highlight a particularly striking phrase, sentence, or passage by quoting the original
  • Distance yourself from the original by quoting it in order to cue readers that the words are not your own
  • Expand the breadth or depth of your writing

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:

  • Read the entire text, noting the key points and main ideas.
  • Summarize in your own words what the single main idea of the essay is.
  • Paraphrase important supporting points that come up in the essay.
  • Consider any words, phrases, or brief passages that you believe should be quoted directly.

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

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  • Other Examples
  • Quotes vs Paraphrases
  • Reference Entry Components
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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

  • Long Quotes
  • Changing Quotes

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:

  • The line before your long quotation, when you're introducing the quote, usually ends with a colon.
  • The long quotation is indented half an inch from the rest of the text, so it looks like a block of text.
  • There are no quotation marks around the quotation.
  • The period at the end of the quotation comes before your in-text citation as opposed to after, as it does with 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.

  • Cite secondary sources sparingly—for instance, when the original work is out of print, unavailable, or available only in a language that you do not understand.
  • If possible, as a matter of good scholarly practice, find the primary source, read it, and cite it directly rather than citing a secondary source.

Rules for Secondary Source Citations

  • In the reference list, provide an entry only for the secondary source that you used.
  • In the text, identify the primary source and write “as cited in” the secondary source that you used. 
  • If the year of publication of the primary source is known, also include it in the in-text citation.

Example of a Secondary Source Use

Quote & In-Text Citation

Reference List Entry

Paraphrases

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

  • Long Paraphrases

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

  • Paraphrasing (The Learning Portal)

Tip sheet on paraphrasing information

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In-text citation

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  • Other styles AGLC4 APA 7th Chicago 17th (A) Notes Chicago 17th (B) Author-Date Harvard MLA 9th Vancouver
  • Referencing home

The MLA 9th style uses author-date in-text citations, used when quoting or paraphrasing people’s work. 

Two types of in-text citations

1. author prominent format .

Use this format if you want to emphasise the author. Their name becomes part of your sentence.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," wrote Charles Dickens of the eighteenth century (5).

2. Information prominent format

Use this format if you want to emphasise the information. It cites the author’s name, typically at the end of a sentence.

as demonstrated in the opening line, "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times" (Dickens 5).

Examples of in-text citations

Less than three lines of text.

If a prose quotation is no more than four lines and does not require special emphasis, put it in quotation marks and incorporate it into the text. Include the page number(s) in brackets.

"It was the best of times it was the worst of times" wrote Charles Dickens of the eighteenth century (5).

  • See Plays and Poetry sections below for how to cite these in-text.

More than three lines of text

If a quotation is longer than three lines, set it off from your text by beginning a new line, indenting half an inch from the left margin. Quotation marks around the text are not required. Introduce the quotation with a colon. Place the parenthetical reference after the last line. For example, the above discusses John Corner in his book, The Art of Record: A Critical Introduction to Documentary , which refers to Brian Winston's revaluation of the documentary tradition in the writings of John Grierson.

Winston's reassessment of Grierson finds the play-off between creativity and realness unconvincing: Grierson's taxonomic triumph was to make his particular species of non-fiction film, the non-fiction genre while at the same time allowing the films to use the significant fictionalising technique of dramatisation. (Winston 103)

This is a usefully provocative point, though agreement with it will largely rest on certain, contestable ideas about 'fictionalisation' and 'dramatisation'. The issue is dealt with directly in Chapter Two, as part of considering the debate around drama-documentary forms, and it occurs in relation to specific works throughout this book.

Two authors

In prose, the first time the two authors are mentioned, use both first and second names. In a parenthetical citation use 'and', not '&' to connect the two surnames.

Others, like Cheryl Brown and Laura Czerniewicz argue that the idea of a generation of ‘digital natives’ is flawed (359). The Brown and Czerniewicz article focuses on…

(Brown and Czerniewicz 359)

Three or more authors

When citing a source with three or more authors in prose you only refer to the first coauthor and can follow the additional authors by “and others“ or “and colleagues.” A parenthetical citation requires the first author's surname, followed by et al.

Laura Czerniewicz and colleagues argue…

(Czerniewicz et al. 53)

Different authors, same surname

If you use works from more than one author with the same last name, eliminate any ambiguity by including the author's first initial as well (or if the initial is also the same, the full first name).

(N. Palmer 45)

(N. Palmer 45; M. Palmer 102)

Citing more than one author

If you are citing more than one source at the same point, place them in the same parentheses, separated by a semi-colon.

(Jackson 41; Smith 150)

Same author, two or more works

If you cite multiple works by the same author, include a shortened title in each in-text citation to establish which work you are referring to. To avoid overly lengthy in-text citations, shorten the title to a simple noun phrase, or a few words.

The first example references Said's book, so the title is italicised. The second example references Said's journal article, so it is in quotation marks.

For more tips on how to abbreviate titles of sources, see 6.10 of the MLA Handbook .

..."the Orient was a scholar's word, signifying what modern Europe had recently made of the still peculiar East" (Said, Orientalism 92).

..."there is something basically unworkable or at least drastically changed about the traditional frameworks in which we study literature" (Said, "Globalizing Literary Study" 64).

Anonymous or no author

For works that are anonymously authored, or have no author, include a shortened version of the title in the in-text citation (do not list the author as "anonymous", nor as "anon.").

It has been argued that the hat symbolised freedom (Wandering Merchant 157).

Corporate author

Abbreviate terms that are commonly abbreviated (e.g. Department becomes Dept.), so as to not disrupt the flow of your text with overly long in-text citations.

If the corporate author is identified in the works-cited list by the names of administrative units separated by commas, give all the names in the parenthetical citation.

The Australian Research Council found that there are limited policies and procedures in place to manage foreign interference (4).

(Monash University 176)

Citing an author within another source

An indirect source is a source that is cited in another source. To quote this second-hand source, use “qtd. in” (quoted in), and then include the information of the source you actually consulted. Similarly, for the reference list use the source that you actually consulted (i.e. the indirect source). Keep in mind that it is good academic practice to seek out and use the original source, rather than the second-hand one, however this is not always possible.

For the below example, the student is using Petrarch's quote which is found in Hui. The page number refers to the source actually consulted (Hui), and the reference list would only list Hui, as shown below:

Hui, Andrew. The Poetics of Ruins in Renaissance Literature. Fordham UP, 2016.

For more information, see section 6.77 of the MLA Handbook .

Petrarch laments that Cicero’s manuscripts are “in such fragmentary and mutilated condition that it would perhaps have been better for them to have perished” (qtd. in Hui 4).

Author in a translation

If you think your audience would require a translation for your quoted material, then provide one. Give the source of the translation, as well as the source of the quote.

If you did the translation yourself, then insert my trans. where you would usually put the translation source, as shown in the example above.

If you're quoting in a language that does not use the Latin alphabet (Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, etc.), then consistently use the original writing system for your quotes or romanisation. Note that proper nouns are usually romanised.

For more information, see 6.75 Translations of Quotations in the MLA Style Guide .

Mme d'Aulnoy's heroine is "la chatte blanche" ("the white cat"; my trans.; 56)

Poetry - Short quotations

Quotations from poetry from part of a line up to three lines in length, which do not need particular emphasis, may be added, placed in quotation marks, within your text as part of a sentence. Use a slash with a space on either side ( / ) to indicate a new line of poetry.

If the poem you are referencing has line numbers, then omit page numbers all-together and cite by line number instead. Do not use the abbreviation l. or ll. , but instead in your first citation, use the word line, or lines as shown in the example below. After the first citation, it can be assumed that the numbers refer to lines, so you can include the numbers alone.

More's distress that she had not written about the problems of the slave trade earlier are expressed in the poem: "Whene'er to Afric's shores I turn my eyes, / Horrors of deepest, deadliest guilt arise" (line 5).

Poetry - Block quotations

When quoting a block of poetry, introduce it in the same manner as a prose block quotation, i.e. begin the quote on a new line and indent each line as below. There is no need to add quotation marks. A reference to the page or line number should be included in parenthesis at the end of the last line. If the original text is creatively spaced or indented, then try to replicate the original as best you can.

Judith Wright 's poetry explores the Australian environment:

And have we eaten in the heart of the yellow wheat the sullen unforgetting seed of fire? And now, set free by the climate of man's hate, that seed sets time ablaze (14)

If you quote the lines of more than one actor or if the piece you are quoting is long, the quotation should not be integrated into your text. The rules in MLA for presenting this text are:

  • Leave a line between your text and the quotation
  • Begin each part of the dialogue with the character's name, indented half an inch from the margin, in upper case and with a full-stop, e.g. BODYGUARDS.
  • Start dialogue after full-stop or match spacing shown in original source
  • Indent all dialogue an additional amount, as shown below
  • End each piece of dialogue with a full-stop
  • End the last line of the quotation with a full-stop and then add the section and line numbers in parentheses.

For more information, see section 6.40 of the MLA 9th Handbook .

TARTUFFE. Yes, my brother, I am a sinner, a guilty man. An unhappy sinner full of iniquity. (III. vi.)

In-text citation general checklist

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Harvard Referencing - SETU Libraries Waterford Guide: Paraphrasing and Direct Quotations

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Paraphrasing and Direct Quotations

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Essay excerpt

Dublin is the capital of Ireland. The Discover Ireland website (Fáilte Ireland, 2013) outlines some of the main tourist attractions in Dublin. The city is ‘small, easy to get around and offers no greater challenge than struggling to be cultural the morning after the night before’ (Davenport, 2010, p. 16). Dublin aims to encourage sustainable tourism and members of the public can help by altering behaviour patterns (Miller et al ., 2010).

Paraphrase or Summary

When you paraphrase or summarise you express somebody else's ideas or theories in your own words.

Paraphrasing is not a direct quote, so there is no need to include quotation marks or page numbers. List the name(s) of the author(s) and the date of publication directly after the paraphrase. Example (see above): Miller et al., 2010.

Direct Quote

A Direct Quote is when you take an actual segment of text from another source and reproduce it word for word in your assignment.

Short quotations should be contained within your paragraph of text, but enclosed within single quotation marks. Example (see above): Davenport, 2010, p. 16.

Longer quotations should be indented as a separate paragraph and do not require quotation marks.

Unless you are quoting from material which does not have page numbers, you will always need a page number as part of your in text citation when quoting.  

Common Knowledge

Only information which is considered general knowledge, or common knowledge within your field of study, does not have to be referenced.

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Harvard referencing style: Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing.

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Children who develop a capacity for sympathy or compassion – often through empathetic perspectival experience – understand what their aggression has done to another separate person, for whom they increasingly care. They thus come to feel guilt about their own aggression and real concern for the well-being of the other person. Empathy is not morality, but it can supply crucial ingredients of morality. As concern develops, it leads to an increasing wish to control one’s own aggression; children recognize that other people are not their slaves but separate beings with the right to lives of their own. (Nussbaum, 2010, p. 37)

Nussbaum, M.C. (2010)  Not for profit: why democracy needs the humanities.  Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. [Harvard style]

The text in italics above has been written by Martha Nussbaum. I want to paraphrase it so I can use it in my own work. Here are some examples, showing the stages or drafts. 

Stage or draft 1

Children who develop a capacity for sympathy or compassion – understand what their aggression has done to another separate person. They feel guilty about their own aggression and real concern for the well-being of the other person. As concern develops, it leads to an increasing wish to control their own aggression. Then children recognize that other people are separate beings with the right to lives of their own, and not to be ordered around . (Nussbaum, 2010)

This example of a paraphrase shows what happens when you cut and paste text, i.e. you tend to just change words. If you compare it to the original text, you can see it is not that much different. This is a poor paraphrase, and would be likely to be regarded as plagiarism, if submitted to a plagiarism detecting service. 

Stage or draft 2

Nussbaum (2010, p. 37) considered that children need to ‘develop a capacity for sympathy or compassion’, sometimes through experiencing common events or feelings. When they do this, they can better appreciate what their actions have done to another person, for whom they may feel more affection. In fact, children may feel guilty and this helps them to change their behavior and views about other people, who they see more as individuals, to whom they need to relate, rather than issue peremptory orders to people, without reference to the other person’s feelings. 

In this example of paraphrasing, there is more evidence of thinking about the original text (rather than just cutting and pasting) and a good attempt has been made to put it into different words. The same order of the original text remains, and a good tip is to quote a memorable phrase, i.e. a section you might find difficult to put into other words. 

Stage or draft 3

Nussbaum (2010) concluded that children begin to see other people as separate living entities, with their own emotions and activity, rather than simply beings that only exist in relation to children. This process of emotional development and change may occur through experiencing similar events to another person and guilt, when reflecting on their initial, selfish reactions. 

In this example, not only has paraphrasing happened, but the original text has been summarized too, which results in less words being used. Note that the order of the original text has been changed, so that a conclusion has been made, followed by a justification or reason.

For all paraphrasing, the original source needs to be cited in the text, and the source included in the bibliography of your work. 

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A Quick Guide to Harvard Referencing | Citation Examples

Published on 14 February 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on 15 September 2023.

Referencing is an important part of academic writing. It tells your readers what sources you’ve used and how to find them.

Harvard is the most common referencing style used in UK universities. In Harvard style, the author and year are cited in-text, and full details of the source are given in a reference list .

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Table of contents

Harvard in-text citation, creating a harvard reference list, harvard referencing examples, referencing sources with no author or date, frequently asked questions about harvard referencing.

A Harvard in-text citation appears in brackets beside any quotation or paraphrase of a source. It gives the last name of the author(s) and the year of publication, as well as a page number or range locating the passage referenced, if applicable:

Note that ‘p.’ is used for a single page, ‘pp.’ for multiple pages (e.g. ‘pp. 1–5’).

An in-text citation usually appears immediately after the quotation or paraphrase in question. It may also appear at the end of the relevant sentence, as long as it’s clear what it refers to.

When your sentence already mentions the name of the author, it should not be repeated in the citation:

Sources with multiple authors

When you cite a source with up to three authors, cite all authors’ names. For four or more authors, list only the first name, followed by ‘ et al. ’:

Sources with no page numbers

Some sources, such as websites , often don’t have page numbers. If the source is a short text, you can simply leave out the page number. With longer sources, you can use an alternate locator such as a subheading or paragraph number if you need to specify where to find the quote:

Multiple citations at the same point

When you need multiple citations to appear at the same point in your text – for example, when you refer to several sources with one phrase – you can present them in the same set of brackets, separated by semicolons. List them in order of publication date:

Multiple sources with the same author and date

If you cite multiple sources by the same author which were published in the same year, it’s important to distinguish between them in your citations. To do this, insert an ‘a’ after the year in the first one you reference, a ‘b’ in the second, and so on:

Prevent plagiarism, run a free check.

A bibliography or reference list appears at the end of your text. It lists all your sources in alphabetical order by the author’s last name, giving complete information so that the reader can look them up if necessary.

The reference entry starts with the author’s last name followed by initial(s). Only the first word of the title is capitalised (as well as any proper nouns).

Harvard reference list example

Sources with multiple authors in the reference list

As with in-text citations, up to three authors should be listed; when there are four or more, list only the first author followed by ‘ et al. ’:

Reference list entries vary according to source type, since different information is relevant for different sources. Formats and examples for the most commonly used source types are given below.

  • Entire book
  • Book chapter
  • Translated book
  • Edition of a book

Journal articles

  • Print journal
  • Online-only journal with DOI
  • Online-only journal with no DOI
  • General web page
  • Online article or blog
  • Social media post

Sometimes you won’t have all the information you need for a reference. This section covers what to do when a source lacks a publication date or named author.

No publication date

When a source doesn’t have a clear publication date – for example, a constantly updated reference source like Wikipedia or an obscure historical document which can’t be accurately dated – you can replace it with the words ‘no date’:

Note that when you do this with an online source, you should still include an access date, as in the example.

When a source lacks a clearly identified author, there’s often an appropriate corporate source – the organisation responsible for the source – whom you can credit as author instead, as in the Google and Wikipedia examples above.

When that’s not the case, you can just replace it with the title of the source in both the in-text citation and the reference list:

Harvard referencing uses an author–date system. Sources are cited by the author’s last name and the publication year in brackets. Each Harvard in-text citation corresponds to an entry in the alphabetised reference list at the end of the paper.

Vancouver referencing uses a numerical system. Sources are cited by a number in parentheses or superscript. Each number corresponds to a full reference at the end of the paper.

A Harvard in-text citation should appear in brackets every time you quote, paraphrase, or refer to information from a source.

The citation can appear immediately after the quotation or paraphrase, or at the end of the sentence. If you’re quoting, place the citation outside of the quotation marks but before any other punctuation like a comma or full stop.

In Harvard referencing, up to three author names are included in an in-text citation or reference list entry. When there are four or more authors, include only the first, followed by ‘ et al. ’

Though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there is a difference in meaning:

  • A reference list only includes sources cited in the text – every entry corresponds to an in-text citation .
  • A bibliography also includes other sources which were consulted during the research but not cited.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.

Caulfield, J. (2023, September 15). A Quick Guide to Harvard Referencing | Citation Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved 15 February 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/referencing/harvard-style/

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Exploring the gray area: Understanding paraphrasing as a potential path to plagiarism

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In the labyrinthine world of academic writing, paraphrasing walks a thin line between being a useful tool and a potential pitfall, leading to plagiarism.

Often referred to as "patchwriting" or " mosaic plagiarism," the act of paraphrasing raises a fundamental question: What makes writing truly original in an era saturated with accessible information? Mark Twain's assertion that all ideas are merely reconfigurations of existing ones challenges us to consider the essence of originality. This blog ventures into the complex dynamics of paraphrasing, disentangling its legitimate use from its problematic misuse. We'll delve into what constitutes effective paraphrasing that respects academic integrity and when it veers into the territory of plagiarism.

Unpacking the art of paraphrasing

Paraphrasing serves as a bridge, translating complex or specialized topics into accessible and simplified language. It is also a way for a student or researcher to synthesize what they have read, putting text into their own words to A) better understand the topic at hand and B) support their writing with a sound, meaningfully reworded example from an outside source. The Office of Research Integrity within the US Department of Health & Human Services offers a compelling example, transforming a dense scientific explanation into a concise, digestible format. Below is the original content: “Because the intracellular concentration of potassium ions is relatively high, potassium ions tend to diffuse out of the cell. This movement is driven by the concentration gradient for potassium ions. Similarly, the concentration gradient for sodium ions tends to promote their movement into the cell. However, the cell membrane is significantly more permeable to potassium ions than to sodium ions. As a result, potassium ions diffuse out of the cell faster than sodium ions enter the cytoplasm. The cell therefore experiences a net loss of positive charges, and as a result the interior of the cell membrane contains an excess of negative charges, primarily from negatively charged proteins” (Martini & Bartholomew, 1997, p. 204).

Here is an appropriate paraphrase of the above material:

“A textbook of anatomy and physiology (Martini & Bartholomew, 1997, p. 204) reports that the concentration of potassium ions inside of the cell is relatively high and, consequently, some potassium tends to escape out of the cell. Just the opposite occurs with sodium ions.”

The Office of Research Integrity also gives an example of an inappropriate version of paraphrasing from the original text: “...This movement is triggered by the concentration gradient for potassium ions. Similarly, the concentration gradient for sodium ions tends to promote their movement into the cell. However, the cell membrane is much more permeable to potassium ions than it is to sodium ions. As a result, potassium ions diffuse out of the cell more rapidly than sodium ions enter the cytoplasm…” (Martini & Bartholomew, 1997, p. 204). You’ll note that the above “rewritten” example is basically a copy of the original, save for a few superficial alterations, including word deletions, synonym swaps, and additions.

Because most of the words and structure of the original paragraph remain the same, this paragraph would technically be considered plagiarism, despite the writer crediting the original authors. As the Office of Research Integrity puts it: “[M]aking only cosmetic modifications to others’ writing misleads the reader as to who the true author of the original writing really is." In this scenario, a student could instead ask for support in learning how to more accurately paraphrase the information or alternatively, use a direct quote with a correctly cited source to make it clear that this is not their content. Effective paraphrasing isn't just about avoiding plagiarism; it's about enhancing comprehension and adding value to the discourse.

The original thought conundrum

In the realm of academic discourse, Bloom's Taxonomy emerges as a crucial framework, offering a layered understanding of cognitive development. This taxonomy, a hierarchy starting from basic knowledge recall to the creation of new ideas, challenges us to consider the concept of 'original thought' in education. As we go from 'Remembering' and 'Understanding' through to 'Applying', 'Analyzing', and 'Evaluating', we reach the peak - 'Creating'. This final stage is where originality is presumed to flourish. However, this presents a conundrum: in an age where information is ubiquitous and influences are numerous, can any thought claim absolute originality? This paradox is especially relevant in a digital era saturated with ideas, where the difference between inspiration and replication becomes increasingly blurred. Bloom’s Taxonomy, therefore, not only maps out cognitive skills but also invites a deeper reflection on the nature and possibility of truly original thought in our modern knowledge ecosystem.

What’s the difference between plagiarism and paraphrasing?

Plagiarism and paraphrasing, while seemingly similar, diverge significantly in intent and execution. Plagiarism is the act of passing off someone else's work or ideas as one's own while paraphrasing, in contrast, aims to rearticulate ideas for clarity while maintaining the essence of the original work. Paraphrasing becomes problematic when it strays into the realm of plagiarism, often manifested in the failure to properly attribute sources, bring new insights to the table, or to uphold academic integrity. To wholly uphold academic integrity is to commit to honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage. It is a holistic concept that must be backed up by institutional policies, curriculum, teaching interventions, assessment design, and feedback loops that strengthen a student’s bond to learning. In an earlier post, we explored the ways in which paraphrasing may become problematic. The following three examples are situations that may cause challenges around paraphrasing expectations:

  • When a student does not understand the purpose behind paraphrasing, they may not see the importance of attributing what they've paraphrased and therefore overlook doing so . Educators must take great care in building a culture of academic integrity and explaining to students how cited, well-paraphrased passages not only enhance their writing (and also provide variety in an essay that would otherwise be all quotations), they uphold integrity by recognizing an author’s original work.
  • When a student does not have the foundational literacy skills to paraphrase, it may lead them to unintentionally plagiarize. In a suspected case of academic misconduct, an educator must ascertain if it is a skill deficit or deliberate plagiarism. From there, strengthening a student’s literary comprehension skills and basic academic writing skills can help bolster their confidence and ability to paraphrase. Turnitin’s Draft Coach can also be used to help students write accurate citations in Microsoft® Word for the web and Google Docs™.
  • When a student knowingly and purposely uses short-cut solutions in place of their own skills, it’s a sign that action must be taken. Paraphrasing tools, also known as word spinners, alter existing text with the purpose of evading plagiarism detection software. This deeply impacts learning because they prevent students from understanding how to truly paraphrase.

Steering clear of paraphrasing pitfalls

Avoiding paraphrasing plagiarism is a nuanced skill, requiring a blend of accurate citation, original sentence structuring, and a deep understanding of the source material. There are many ways to avoid paraphrasing plagiarism while still paraphrasing to summarize work and communicate topics more clearly and holistically. Ways to avoid plagiarizing include:

  • Correct citation of sources
  • Quoting and summarizing texts accurately
  • Writing with your own sentence structures
  • Understanding text and content clearly before paraphrasing

There is also a helpful paraphrasing strategy called the 4R’s: Read, Restate, Recheck, and Repair.

  • Read: Did you understand the passage?
  • Restate: Did you restate important points in your own words?
  • Recheck: Did you include all of the important details?
  • Repair: Did you correct any misinformation?

In addition to the above, the following sections delve into key elements to keep in mind and practical strategies to master this skill, ensuring that paraphrasing enriches, rather than diminishes, academic integrity.

The role of text spinners in paraphrasing plagiarism

Text spinners, or article spinners, present a new hurdle in the realm of paraphrasing plagiarism. These tools, designed to disguise copied content as original, exacerbate the issue by blurring the lines between legitimate paraphrasing and deceptive rewriting. “Simply put,” says Christine Lee, “when students use word spinners, they aren’t producing their own original work. Original work means that even when paraphrasing, students regenerate the ideas of another person into their own words and voice to express their own understanding of concepts.” Educators need to understand the emerging trends in misconduct and academic integrity so that they can build awareness around them, educate students on their misuse, and mitigate any threats to an institution's reputation to ensure authentic student learning.

How to effectively teach paraphrasing

Educators bear the responsibility of guiding students through the maze of paraphrasing. This entails instilling respect for academic integrity, teaching proper citation techniques, and encouraging the development of independent thought. To start, it is imperative to highlight examples of accurate paraphrasing and how it differs from quotations and summarizing. As quoted in an earlier Turnitin post, according to the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL):

  • 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 rewording a passage from source material into your own words. A paraphrase must also be attributed to the original source because there is no creation of new ideas. 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 because no new ideas have been introduced. Summaries are significantly shorter than the original and take a broad overview of the source material.

And while there are myriad ways for educators to approach and teach this highly important skill, the following are a few resources that can support thoughtful plagiarism education and practice:

  • Explain the course’s or institution’s policy on academic integrity clearly and early in the semester. Outline course and assignment expectations explicitly, including appropriate use and misuse of AI tools. By building a culture of integrity that is clearly defined, students can more deeply understand the value of accurate paraphrasing and citations, as well as understand the consequences of misconduct.
  • Dive into Turnitin’s Paraphrasing Pack , eleven out-of-the-box resources developed by veteran educators that are ready to be implemented in the classroom. It features everything from research strategies and student checklists for paraphrasing to lesson presentations and printable graphic organizers.
  • Explore all of the resources that support academic integrity in the age of AI , including valuable assets that help students to better understand how and when to use AI tools ethically.
  • Conduct a candid conversation with a student if their work appears to have similarities to other texts without proper paraphrasing or citation, or if inappropriate usage of AI tools is suspected. These dialogues often transform a moment of misconduct into an opportunity for learning by determining if there is a skill deficit that can be readily addressed. The data housed in the Similarity Report, including instances of synonym swapping, as well as Turnitin’s AI writing detection tool, can both serve as jumping off points for these essential conversations.

Maintaining academic integrity while paraphrasing

While building that culture of academic integrity and teaching skills is the first step, educators know that oftentimes it’s necessary to take another step, one that will confirm or refute that the student’s work is solely their own. It may be as simple as a remarkably sophisticated sentence structure or vocabulary choice, but educators tend to recognize when a student misrepresents something that is not their work, as their own. That next step is as simple as reviewing Turnitin’s newly enhanced Similarity Report, which has a streamlined workflow to show both the Similarity Score and the AI writing score. While AI continues to evolve, so too does the students’ use of AI tools. Turnitin’s AI writing score may indicate the use of AI paraphrasing tools to modify AI-generated content. Educators have no “extra clicks” as AI paraphrasing detection is built seamlessly into the existing workflow that educators already use and trust. As before, this score is to inform the educator of the likelihood that the student tried to use AI paraphrasing tools as a shortcut; whether intentional plagiarism or not is determined by the educator and the student during formative discussions surrounding their work. Then, next steps to help a student to revise can be taken. Check out this infographic that defines the key differences between human- powered paraphrasing and AI paraphrasing tools, as well as the role an AI paraphrasing detector can play in this process.

referencing when paraphrasing

In sum: How to skillfully paraphrase and avoid plagiarism

The skill of paraphrasing is foundational in academic writing, serving as a safeguard against the pitfalls of plagiarism and academic misconduct. When a student fails to master this skill, they risk inadvertently crossing the line from legitimate use of sources to plagiarism, a serious breach of academic integrity. Effective paraphrasing involves more than just altering a few words; it requires a deep understanding of the original text and the ability to express its essence in a new, original form while maintaining the core message. This process must be coupled with accurate citations and the appropriate use of quotes to credit the original authors. Without these critical components, a student's work can easily fall into the realm of academic dishonesty. Thus, learning to paraphrase correctly is not just about avoiding plagiarism; it's about respecting the intellectual labor of others, upholding the values of academic integrity, and contributing genuinely to the scholarly conversation.

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Critical Writing Program: Craft of Prose (Spring 2024): Using Sources (Citing, Quoting, and Paraphrasing)

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Citation Style for the Critical Writing Program

You will be using the Chicago Manual of Style for your in text citations and bibliographies. The Libraries subscribe to the Chicago Manual of Style Online. The database is fully searchable. It is easy to find the various examples that describe citation format for specific formats. 

Chicago Manual of Style Online  (17th Edition) 

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  1. Paraphrasing

    Cite this 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.

  2. Paraphrasing

    Paraphrasing is expressing someone else's writing in your own choice of words, while keeping the same essential meaning. As Pears and Shields (2019, p. 15) explain, it is 'an alternative way of referring to an author's ideas or arguments without using direct quotations from their text'.

  3. Paraphrasing

    Using Research Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing Paraphrase: Write It in Your Own Words Paraphrase: Write It in Your Own Words Paraphrasing is one way to use a text in your own writing without directly quoting source material.

  4. How to Paraphrase

    Revised on June 1, 2023. Paraphrasing means putting someone else's ideas into your own words. Paraphrasing a source involves changing the wording while preserving the original meaning. Paraphrasing is an alternative to quoting (copying someone's exact words and putting them in quotation marks ).

  5. LibGuides: APA Citation Guide (7th edition) : Paraphrasing

    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: Mother-infant attachment became a leading topic of developmental research following the publication of John Bowlby's studies (Hunt, 1993).

  6. APA Citation Style, 7th Edition: In-Text Citations & Paraphrasing

    BEST PRACTICE PER PARAGRAPH: On your 1st paraphrase of a source, CITE IT. There is no need to add another in-text citation until you use a different source, OR, until you use a direct quote.

  7. Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting

    When and how to paraphrase When you paraphrase from a source, you restate the source's ideas in your own words.

  8. APA (7th ed.) referencing guide (Online): Paraphrasing

    In text citations There are 2 ways to reference in-text: Paraphrasing or direct quotes. Paraphrasing is when you take another person's ideas, extract and summarise the important points and then making it clear from whom and where you have got the ideas you are discussing and what your point of view is.

  9. ACAP Learning Resources: Reference in APA 7: Paraphrasing

    You must reintroduce the citation if the paraphrase continues across multiple paragraphs. If the paragraph or sentence contains information from multiple sources, then cite as often as required to make sure the source is clearly acknowledged. The APA Style and Grammar Guidelines provide this example: Play therapists can experience many symptoms ...

  10. Paraphrasing & Citation :: Writing Associates Program

    Home Writing Associates Program Return to Student Resources Plagiarism Plagiarism is using someone else's words or ideas without giving proper credit. It can take many forms, including the following:

  11. LibGuides: Harvard Referencing: Summarising/Paraphrasing

    The Nazis attempted to control fashions in order to communicate a wide range of propoganda messages (Guenther 2004). In a recent book, Guenther (2004) demonstrates the ways in which the Nazis used women's fashions to strengthen certain images of their ideal world. There are different ways you can incorporate an in-text citation into your work.

  12. FAQ: How do I cite paraphrased information in APA Style (in-text)?

    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.

  13. LibGuides: Citing references: Using quotes & paraphrases

    When should I include a reference? 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.

  14. Paraphrasing in APA

    1. Read the original source The first step in creating an effective paraphrase is to carefully read the original source. Read it the first time to get the overall understanding, and then do a second closer reading in order to gather details and material that will help you formulate your argument. 2. Take notes in your own words

  15. 3 Ways to Cite a Paraphrased Statement

    How to Cite a Paraphrased Statement Download Article methods 1 Placing Citations in Text 2 Creating a Reference List 3 Quoting or Paraphrasing a Source Other Sections Related Articles References Co-authored by Jennifer Mueller, JD Last Updated: December 9, 2022 Fact Checked

  16. Quoting, paraphrasing and summarising

    Paraphrasing Summarising Quoting is copying a short section of text, word for word, directly from an information source into your work. 1. Short quotes should: have double quotation marks at the beginning and end of the text be followed with the in-text citation have ellipses (...) if you omit part of the text. An example of a short quotation:

  17. Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

    Using Research Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing This handout is intended to help you become more comfortable with the uses of and distinctions among quotations, paraphrases, and summaries.

  18. APA Style 6th Edition Blog: Paraphrasing

    The examples below show a citation for a paraphrase that includes the page number. Just as Sherlock Holmes investigates a case, psychologists must evaluate all the available data before making a deduction, lest they jump to an erroneous conclusion on the basis of insufficient evidence (Bram & Peebles, 2014, pp. 32-33). ...

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

    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.

  20. In-text citation

    The MLA 9th style uses author-date in-text citations, used when quoting or paraphrasing people's work. Two types of in-text citations 1. Author prominent format . ... The citation in the text consists of the author's last name only. Unlike other referencing styles, the year of publication is not included.

  21. Paraphrasing and Direct Quotations

    Paraphrase or Summary. When you paraphrase or summarise you express somebody else's ideas or theories in your own words. Paraphrasing is not a direct quote, so there is no need to include quotation marks or page numbers. List the name(s) of the author(s) and the date of publication directly after the paraphrase. Example (see above): Miller et ...

  22. Paraphrasing

    Note that the order of the original text has been changed, so that a conclusion has been made, followed by a justification or reason. For all paraphrasing, the original source needs to be cited in the text, and the source included in the bibliography of your work. Last Updated: Dec 8, 2015 4:14 PM. https://research.uwcsea.edu.sg/harvard.

  23. How to Paraphrase

    Paraphrasing means putting someone else's ideas into your own words. Paraphrasing a source involves changing the wording while preserving the original meaning. Paraphrasing is an alternative to quoting (copying someone's exact words and putting them in quotation marks ). In academic writing, it's usually better to paraphrase instead of ...

  24. A Quick Guide to Harvard Referencing

    A Harvard in-text citation appears in brackets beside any quotation or paraphrase of a source. It gives the last name of the author(s) and the year of publication, as well as a page number or range locating the passage referenced, if applicable: ... Each referencing style has different rules (Pears and Shields, 2019). Each referencing style has ...

  25. Exploring the gray area: Understanding paraphrasing as a ...

    Avoiding paraphrasing plagiarism is a nuanced skill, requiring a blend of accurate citation, original sentence structuring, and a deep understanding of the source material. There are many ways to avoid paraphrasing plagiarism while still paraphrasing to summarize work and communicate topics more clearly and holistically.

  26. Using Sources (Citing, Quoting, and Paraphrasing)

    You will be using the Chicago Manual of Style for your in text citations and bibliographies. The Libraries subscribe to the Chicago Manual of Style Online. The database is fully searchable. It is easy to find the various examples that describe citation format for specific formats.

  27. Register for Free Citation Management Workshops Next Week

    Zotero is also a robust platform for taking notes, managing quotes and paraphrasing sources. The libraries will offer four opportunities to attend an online workshop on using Zotero the week of Feb. 19. ... How to use Zotero with Microsoft Word to insert and format in-text references, endnotes and footnotes . This one-hour session will be ...