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APA Guide

Basics of Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

How to Paraphrase


  • A detailed restatement of a source's main ideas in your own words.
  • Not your opinions or interpretations of those ideas.

When incorporating a paraphrase into your writing, you will need to provide a citation, just as you would for a direct quotation. Even though you are writing in our own words, you are paraphrasing someone else's ideas. The ideas are not your own. 

Qualities of a good paraphrase:

  • Same length or shorter than the original passage.
  • Written in your own words
  • Includes all of the important details
  • True to the original  (Be careful not to change the author's meaning.)

Paraphrasing Tips

When paraphrasing, you need to be careful to not plagiarize. Here are some helpful tips for paraphrasing: 

  • Read the whole passage first before restating.
  • Make sure you completely understand the passage. 
  • Write down key information from the source.
  • Put the original aside, and then re-write the passage in your own words using the key information. 
  • Follow the rule of 3:
    • Three consecutive words that are identical to the original are considered a quotation and should be cited as a direct quote. It is no longer a paraphrase.

Good Paraphrase vs. Plagiarism

Let's take a look at an example:

Original Passage: 

  • University of Tulsa psychologist Judy Berry studied seventy-three Oklahoma eighth graders who had taken a parenting course.  For ten days, each student had to care for a ten-pound sack of flour as if it were a baby.  Berry’s research on her young subjects suggests the course worked: The teenagers in the study had a sounder sense of parental responsibility than they did before they took the course.

Plagiarized Version: 

  • University of Tulsa psychologist Judy Berry conducted a study of eight graders who had taken a ten day parenting course. Students had to treat a ten-pound sack of flour as if it were a baby. According to Berry’s research, the course worked. After the course, students had a better understanding of parental responsibility than they did before they took the course

(Notice that much of the text is taken directly from the original source. This passage is not in the writer's own words.)

Paraphrased Correctly Versions: 

  • Extended parental role-playing can actually increase an adolescent’s awareness of parental responsibilities as shown by psychologist Judy Berry’s study involving eighth grade students (Harper, 1996).
  • In a study of eighth grade students taking a parenting course involving role-playing, Psychologist Judy Berry determined that students were more parentally responsible after taking the course (Harper, 1996).