When presenting material from other sources, there are two main options: paraphrase or quote. This page describes each method and presents strategies for incorporating them into your document. For information on APA formatting requirements, check out our page “Paraphrases & Quotations​."


Paraphrasing occurs when a writer re-writes the ideas and/or arguments presented in someone else's work. When doing this, the writer is using their own words, but the original meaning is maintained and no important information is left out.


There are steps that can be taken toward producing good paraphrases. They are:

  1. Read the passage multiple times to ensure that you understand the author's full meaning.
  2. Write down key concepts.
  3. Put away the original text and write down your summary of it. If needed, take a short break before writing it down so that you are less likely to unintentionally copy the original author's wording.
  4. Compare what you wrote to the original text. Make changes to any areas that appear to be too similar.
  5. Cite appropriately.

Other Tips for Paraphrasing

  • Lead with a different point than the original author. If you start with a different point, your argument will be presented in a different way.
  • Use synonyms to change the wording. However, simply substituting words and maintaining the original structure is considered plagiarism. Use this technique in combination with others.
  • Change the sentence structure. For example, if the original author used passive voice, try using active.
  • Change sentence length. Combine short sentences to produce longer ones or break long sentences into shorter ones. ​

Using Quotes

Consider introducing short quotes (less than 40 words) by framing them within your own words. Quotation marks should be placed around any words that are copied directly from another source. Following the quote should be the appropriate in-text citation. For block quotes, quotes more than 40 words, indent 0.5 in. from the left margin. See APA Manual (7th ed.) Sections 8.25​8.36 for more information on quoting.​

Quotes should be used sparingly in academic writing. It is recommended that quotes be used when:

  • giving evidence that support your argument or claim
  • presenting an author's position or definition
  • the original author has stated something memorable or has communicated something succinctly (oftentimes, this is used as a summarization technique)
  • you are responding to the exact wording of the original text or focusing on specific language being used

Add​itional Resources