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Paraphrase vs. Quotation

In your paper, you want to create a discussion with your reader, giving examples and theories when needed. Sources are used to support your ideas. When you use the sources you have found, you can work them into your paragraph through quotations, paraphrasing, or block quotes. In all cases, you will need to credit your sources using both parenthetical citation and a works cited list.

Using a paraphrase helps the flow of information for your reader, integrating the main idea from your source in a style that fits your writing. Do not simply go word-by-word using a thesaurus to replace words in the original work. This would be considered plagiarism. The language, level of thinking, and style should accurately reflect your own abilities.

To write a summary or paraphrase, first read and reread your source until you understand exactly what it is saying. Then put the source away, closing the book or website window. Write down the main points from the source. Rewrite this information in your own words and sentences so it fits with the style of your paper.

A quote is necessary when the terminology used is specific to the source and cannot be changed without losing valuable meaning or insight. You might also quote if you are making an argument and want to make sure you give each side fair representation (Booth, Colomb, and Williams 207).

When using a quote, try to incorporate it in your sentence as support for previous information. You could start with an introductory phrase, citing the name of the source or author, then use the quotation, and follow with the parenthetical citation.

Use the Google Doc for Practice Using Direct Quotes and Paraphrase to practice using sources. (PDF File)

Links for more examples from the Purdue University Online Writing Lab:

Formatting Quotations:

Incorporating quotes, using paraphrase, and putting sources in conversation: Examples taken from Blair Cross’ paper entitled “Oz: Reality or Fiction?”

Notice how Blair combined paraphrase and quotations within her paper, using what she needed from each.

Dighe, Ranjit S., Ed. The Historian’s Wizard of Oz: Reading L. Frank Baum’s Classic as a Political and Monetary Allegory. Westport: Praeger, 2002. Print.

Page 19: “In practice, the gold standard was far more complex and problematic. Price Deflation was hardly a painless process, as the preceding section indicates, and by the 1890s monetary populists had raised awareness that the ongoing deflation was somehow attributable to the gold standard.”

Page 40: “The popular free-silver pamphlet Coin’s Financial School likened the 1890s depression to a cyclone (much like the cyclone that carried away Dorothy’s house, perhaps).”

Dreier, Peter. “Over the Rainbow: Once Upon a Time, the Wizard of Oz, was a Populist Fable.” El Cerrito High School, n.d. Web. Nov. 11, 2005. <>.

“Baum’s travels and experiences placed him amidst the whirlpool of Populist agitation of the persecuted. His brief stay in South Dakota spanned the period of the formation of the Populist Party, an attempt by Midwestern farmers to use the ballot to restrain the power of the banks, railroads, and other economic interests that had been squeezing farmers through a combination of low prices, high freight rates, and continued indebtedness. The Populists, an alliance of farmers and some urban workers (many affiliated with the Knights of Labor), advocated government ownership and operation of the railroads, telephone and telegraph industries, and graduated income tax, postal savings banks, secret ballot elections, direct election of senators, and silver coinage. Although their presidential candidate, James B. Weaver of Iowa, lost to Democrat Grover Cleveland in 1892, he did receive about 9 percent of the popular vote and carried Nevada, Idaho, Colorado, North Dakota and (significantly of Wizard aficionados) Kansas, a leading Populist state, and the setting of the book’s beginning.”

How Blair used and cited the sources:
In reference to the “People’s Party,” another name for the Populist Party:

“The ‘people’ in this sense are used to represent ‘farmers and some urban workers[,]’ who were in search of ‘government ownership and operation of the railroads, telephone and telegraph industries, graduated income tax, postal savings banks, secret ballot elections, direct election of senators, and silver coinage’ (Dreier). The collection of these things would have steered them away from the 1890’s depression, which formed ‘a cyclone (much like the cyclone that carried away Dorothy’s house perhaps)’ (Dighe 40b). They knew destruction could bring about the Depression’s suspected decrease in prices and assumed it was due to the gold standard” (Dighe 19).

A block quote is needed only when you have 3 or more lines that you need to quote. Such instances should be rare. When you use a block quote, introduce the quote with a complete sentence with a colon instead of a period before the quote. Double space the quote and indent 10 spaces to set it apart from the rest of the paper. Notice that at the end of the block quotation, there is a period followed by the parenthetical citation. This is a special rule for formatting block quotes.

Sample Block Quote

When writing a paper, you must give credit to the source where you received your information. One of the best descriptions of plagiarism is by Diane Hacker:

Three different acts are considered plagiarism: (1) failing to cite quotations and borrowed ideas, (2) failing to enclose borrowed language in quotation marks, and (3) failing to put summaries and paraphrases in your own words…When you summarize or paraphrase, it is not enough to name the source; you must restate the source’s meaning using your own language. You are guilty of plagiarism if you half-copy the author’s sentences–either by mixing the author’s well-chosen phrases without using quotation marks or by plugging your own synonyms into the author’s sentence structure. (92-94)

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