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Citations and Style Guides

Information on plagiarism and citations, including APA and MLA.


Paraphrasing is when you use your own words to communicate the same information as you found in a resource.  The key is to not say it exactly the same way but to get the point across.

One method for good paraphrasing is to remove the original from your mind.  Here are the steps:
1. Read over the section you want to paraphrase, taking notes on the contents in  your own words.
2. Using your notes and not the original resource, write out the information.
3. Compare your writing to the original source and adjust it if needed so it doesn't sound quite the same.

There are some phrases that you cannot say differently in a paraphrase because that is what that concept is called.  It's fine to use those same terms.  It's the way the information is worded that you are adjusting.


Original: Smith (1998) went on to explain, "The zombies were crawling over the roof and I was afraid they would break in the window" (p. 64)!

Paraphrase: Smith (1998) explained that she was scared that the zombies would shatter the windows to find her on the second floor.

Example courtesy Colorado Technical University.

Short Quotes

"I hate quotation.  Tell me what you know."  --Ralph Waldo Emerson

The majority of your paper should be paraphrasing of resources and your analysis of the topic.  A good rule of thumb is to have no more than one quote per page of the paper.  Use quotations to emphasize a point, and also explain why the quote is relevant in the paragraph around it.

When it's best to use the exact words from a source, you need to indicate it's a quote.  Do so by putting quotation marks " " around the words.


Smith (1998) went on to explain, "The zombies were crawling over the roof and I was afraid they would break in the window" (p.64).


Example courtesy Colorado Technical University.

Long Quotes

If the quote you want to use is longer than 40 words, you set it apart from the paragraph in a double-spaced block of text.  Use block quotes sparingly: one block quote per term (every class, every paper) is still probably too many block quotes.  It is usually better to paraphrase all or most of the quote.


Smith (1998) went on to explain:

We were cowering in the upstairs bedrooms when they came.  I remember hiding under the bed like that would stop them from smelling my location.  It was of no use, though: the zombies were crawling over the roof and I was afraid they would break in the window!  (p. 64)

To create a block quote:

  • Indent the whole block of text five spaces from the regular margin.
  • Provide a statement of introduction, with a colon :
  • There are no quotation marks around the quoted text.
  • Give the parenthetical reference at the end of the block quote, then start a new line and continue typing your paper.  If the next line is the start of a new paragraph, do indent it as normal (even though it looks weird).

Example courtesy of Colorado Technical University.