Skip to Main Content

Plagiarism: Avoid Plagiarism

A library guide on identifying and avoiding plagiarism.

Quote, Paraphrase, or Summarize

Quote, paraphrase, or summarize?

When you use information from outside sources to support your own arguments, you need to decide how you will present that information in your research paper. Will you use the author’s exact language, word for word? Will you restate the author’s exact language in your own words? Will you summarize a long passage into a brief synopsis of the content? Here are some tips to help you decide.

Quote: use a passage of text word-for-word in your own document, in quotation marks

Tips for using quotations:

  • Use quotes only when the exact wording is important to retain meaning, or you think it is important to use the author's original words in your paper.
  • Don't overuse quotations; use them to emphasize a point or support your argument.
  • Avoid long quotations when a short one will suffice.
  • Don't take quotations out of context to misrepresent the original author's opinion.
  • Be certain you understand any technical terms the author uses.
  • Always introduce your quotations.
  • Use a variety of sources. If all of the quotes used come from one source, you are limiting your credibility and lack support for your claims.

Paraphrase: put a passage of text into your own words

Tips for paraphrasing:

  • Change the phrasing (not just a couple of words).
  • The paraphrase may be longer or shorter than the original quotation.
  • Keep/preserve the focus or author's intent intact.
  • Cite the source you used to get the information even though you put it into your own words.

Summarize: put only the main points of a section of text into your own words

Tips for summarizing:

  • Make sure you understand what your source is saying.
  • Capture the main points in your own words.
  • Do this when space limitations are an issue.

This video summarizes the use of quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing to avoid plagiarism: