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Avoid Plagiarism : Learn to Quote, Paraphrase, and Summarize!

What is a quotation?

A quote is a statement that is identical to the original, using exact wording of a narrow segment of the source material (either written or spoken). Quotes match the original source word for word and must be attributed to the original author. 

Adapted from University of Houston Victoria: Decide When to Quote, Paraphrase, and Summarize and Purdue OWL: Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing.

When should I quote?

Using quotations is the easiest way to include source material.  However, quotations should be used sparingly.  Use quotations to support your ideas, rather than writing a paper that is merely just a string of quotes with only occasional input from you.  Use direct quotations only when an idea is better expressed when using the original author's own words. 

A few good reasons to quote...

  • To let a great passage speak for itself 
  • To be sure to correctly incorporate highly technical information
  • To lend expert authority to your assertion
  • When unable to paraphrase or summarize an original source without changing the author's intent
  • When your attempts to paraphrase or summarize are awkward or longer than the source material

Adapted from San Francisco State University: Using Someone Else's Words and University of Houston Victoria: Decide When to Quote, Paraphrase, and Summarize

How do I quote?

 Keep source author's name in the same sentence as the quote.

Tip: Use active and descriptive verbs in your introduction of a quote such as: state, observe, recognize, insist, elaborate, comment, object, agree, disagree...


Mark the quote with quotation marks, or set it off from your text in its own block, per the style guide required for your paper.



A long quote (more than 40 characters or 4 or more typed lined) must be formatted as a block quotation. 

Make the text the same size as the essay text.  Indent the entire quote approximately 5 spaces from the left side of your paper. Do not use quotation marks.  Consider using a clarifying sentence with a colon to introduce a long quotation.


Quote no more material than is necessary.  If a short phrase from a source will suffice, don't quote an entire paragraph.


To shorten quotes by removing extra information, use ellipsis points (...) to indicate omitted text.  

Tip: Three ellipsis points indicates an in-sentence ellipsis, and four points for an ellipsis is used between two sentences.


To give context to a quote (or otherwise add wording to it), place added words in brackets [ ]. 


Tip: Be careful not to make any additions that change the original mean of the quote.


When quoting, a comma should be used to set off a complete sentence inserted within yours.

Tip: Watch out for placement of periods! The ending punctuation of your sentence may be affected by your choice to use MLA or APA format.


Note:  Materials presented in this section have been adapted from San Francisco State University: Using Someone Else's Words

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