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Research 101 (older version): Quoting and Paraphrasing

Tips on paraphrasing from David Taylor, Univ. of Maryland Global Campus adviser

Basic definitions and rules of citing

When you include information from a source in a paper, presentation, or other project, you must give credit to the source's author. (The only exception is if the information is common knowledge, such as that the U.S. has 50 states.)

Always properly cite an author's original idea, regardless of whether you have directly quoted or paraphrased it. If you have questions about how to cite properly in your chosen citation style (APA, MLA, or Chicago), check out our Citation Guides.


  • Direct Quote: Someone else's exact words, placed in quotation marks and followed by a parenthetical citation.
  • Paraphrase: Someone else's ideas explained in your own words, followed by a parenthetical citation.
  • Summary: Similar to a paraphrase, but used to give an overview of many ideas (explained in your own words).

Things to include when quoting or paraphrasing a source: 

  • Introductory phrase: More about Signal Phrases or Introductory Phrases
  • Source material: A direct quote, paraphrase, or summary with proper citation
  • Analysis of source material: After presenting the source material explain, analyze it, and relate it to your own ideas. This is crucial, and many people forget to do it!

Remember that papers should contain a good balance of direct quotations, paraphrasing, and your own thoughts. Too much reliance on quotations and paraphrasing can make it seem like you are only using the work of others and are not sharing your own thinking.

Video Avoid Plagiarism in Research Papers with Paraphrases & Quotations 

Why and how to weave others' words and ideas into your own writing

You will often want to draw on the work of others to support your own ideas. Use clear references and citations to indicate from whom the ideas come.

Avoid inserting source information without adding your own analysis; instead include your own voice and your own analysis and ideas. 

There are many reasons that writers refer to other people's words and ideas in their own writing; as you write, ask yourself what your reasons are for including each quote or paraphrase. Some purposes include:

As background information to help the reader understand some basic information about the topic.

For example, you might quote the health department's statistics on childhood obesity and then paraphrase two reasons that public health experts give for why there is more childhood obesity now than twenty years ago. This would show your reader what the problem is and what current concerns are in general. If you present this information (and cite your sources) without any other comment about the reliability of these stats and reasons, you're telling your reader that you believe these things are commonly accepted background information.
As an exhibit : think of how evidence is introduced in a courtroom. It may be used as evidence that supports one interpretation of what is true, or it may be shown to point out something important about the person it belongs to. But exhibits are always shown with some comment on what it means.

For example, if a politician says something hateful, you might quote that hateful thing in your paper (and cite it)--not because you agree with what the politician said, but because you want to show your reader some evidence that this person says hateful things.

Another example of an exhibit might be quoting a metaphor from a beautiful poem, in order to show your reader the exact words the poet used, before you go on to analyze the meaning of the metaphor.

As an argument, or set of ideas and theories that you want to discuss.

Remember that as a researcher and writer, your job is not just to repeat what other people have said, but to think about, put together, and make sense of ideas for your reader. Sometimes you may choose to quote or paraphrase someone else's argument in order to compare, contrast, question and analyze that argument.

Remember that you will likely want to include sources which are are in agreement AND in disagreement with your own views. This way you can recognize and respond to multiple perspectives on the given issue. In doing so, you can make your own argument stronger.

Here is a short video with more tips on how to weave a quote or paraphrase into your own writing.

* The ideas here about quoting others' words and ideas as background, exhibits, or arguments draws upon this article by Prof. Joseph Bizup.

Hostos Writing Center

hostos writing center logoThe library is happy to help you with your research, but for direct writing help, the best place to go for help is the Hostos Writing Center to speak with a tutor. See their Frequently Asked Questions here.

Information quoted directly from the Writing Center site:

"The Writing Center, located in C-596A, offers Hostos students one-on-one and small-group tutoring.

The Hostos Writing Center exists to serve you, the writer. We view writing as a process and the writer as our primary concern.
Our goal is to empower you, to listen to you, to ask you questions, to encourage you to speak your truth, to help you discover your voice.
Our goal, simply stated, is to help you become a better writer, not necessarily to make sure you leave with a perfect paper. To that end, we will act as tutors, not editors.
We understand that what brings students to us is concern about a paper, a class assignment, or an exam like the CAT-W, and we will gladly help you with any concern you bring – that is one of the great advantages of one-on-one tutoring.
So be sure to bring with you the assignment (including everything your instructor has told you about it), any work you have done on that assignment (be it reading, researching, or writing), and lots of paper and a pen or pencil.
It also helps to know your professor’s name!"