Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

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The intent of this guide is to help you understand when and how to incorporate quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing into your assignments. Moreover, you may find the included information on how to cite sources using the most common citation styles such as APA and MLA useful. The guide contains APA and MLA citation basics to help you properly format your in-text citations and list of sources.

What Are Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing?

The difference between these three terms depends on how close your writing is to the source.


  • Should reflect the original source writing
  • Should be properly cited
  • May involve copying short sentences or passages
  • Must be put in “quotation marks”

You may use quotations if you believe there is a need to directly quote some information, especially facts and numbers. In addition, you may use quotations to support your argument with an author’s words.

Example: According to Cox, “the global nursing shortage affects health policy.”


  • Involves putting a passage of the original text into your own words
  • Should be properly cited
  • Should restate the meaning of a text
  • Should also change the structure of a passage

Paraphrasing is not enclosed in quotation marks. This technique is usually used to explain ideas from an original source in a short form. Use paraphrasing to avoid overusing quotations and to clarify a passage from a text.

Example: Brown claims that small countries have stabilized their currencies in relation to the US dollar.


  • Involves stating the main points of a single text or several texts into your own words
  • Should be properly cited
  • Is used to establish background or present a broad overview of the topic

Here are some summarizing tools to save your time.

How to Cite Sources

Now you know that if you use quoting, paraphrasing, or summarizing, you must cite the original source of information. Otherwise, your work may be considered to be plagiarized as the ideas and thoughts in your paper are not your own. Several different citation styles are used in different fields of research. If you are unsure as to which style to choose, ask your instructor or supervisor. The given guidelines will demonstrate how to cite sources using APA and MLA citation styles as examples.

  • When quoting, paraphrasing, or summarizing someone’s ideas, you must use in-text citations. There are several types of in-text citations, such as parenthetical citation, endnote, and footnote.
  • For every in-text citation, there should be a full citation at the end of your paper on the works cited or references page.
  1. Identify the Author and the Title of Your Source
  • If there are two or more authors, be sure to write them in the exact order that they appear in the original source.
  • If you cite a website or a web page that has no author, write down the name of the website or web page.
  1. Other Important Information to Include
  • Publication date, the publisher, and the city of publication (for books)
  • Publication date, the title of the periodical, volume number, issue number, and pages on which an article appears (for articles in periodicals)
  • Publication date, the publisher, the name of the website, the URL, and the date of access (for online sources)

Placing In-Text Citation

In-text citations should be placed at the end of a sentence in which you quote or paraphrase.

Citing Sources in MLA: In-Text Citation

  • A parenthetical citation in MLA should include a page number, provided that the author’s name is given in the sentence. Example: According to Cox, “the global nursing shortage affects health policy” (12).
  • When paraphrasing, include the last author’s name and page number in parentheses. Example: Small countries have stabilized their currencies in relation to the US dollar (Brown 20).
  • When citing a website or online sources, use the number of a paragraph instead of a page number. Example: (Danhof par. 10)
  • If the source has no author, use the name of the source in the parenthetical citation.
  • If you cite a work written by two authors, list their names in the text or include them in the parenthetical citation. Example: (Koontz and Yates 67). Example of citing a work written by three or more authors: (White et al. 76).

Citing Source in APA: In-Text Citation

  • If you paraphrase or summarize, mention the author and the year when the source was published in the parenthetical citation. Example: (Butler, 2018). When quoting directly, do not forget to mention the page number. Example: (Butler, 2018, p. 110).
  • If the source has 3–5 authors, write the names of all the authors in the first mention. Example: (Hussain, Rivers, Stewart, & Munchus, 2015). Then, use the following format: (Last Name et al., Year). Example: (Hussain et al., 2015).
  • When citing online sources, use the number of a paragraph instead of a page number. Example: (Green, 2012, para. 12).
  • If you cite a source with no author, cite the source by its title. Remember that titles of books should be italicized, whereas titles of web pages and articles should be put in quotation marks. Example: (“Exchange Rate Regimes,” n.d.).

MLA Works Cited Page

  • Each source you cite in the text should be mentioned in the Works Cited page.
  • Use the following format to cite books: Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. City of Publication, Publisher, Publication Date.

Example of citing a book with two authors:

Antonakis, John, and David V. Day. The Nature of Leadershi. SAGE Publications, 2017.

  • If the book has three or more authors, write only the first author’s name followed by “et al.” instead of the subsequent authors’ names.
  • Use this basic format for an article in a scholarly journal: Author(s). “Title of Article.” Title of Journal, Volume, Issue, Year, pages.


Astor, Philipp J., et al. “Integrating Biosignals into Information Systems: A NeuroIS Tool for Improving Emotion Regulation.” Journal of Management Information Systems, vol. 30, no. 3, 2013, pp. 247–277.

APA Reference List

  • Each source you cite in the text should be mentioned in the References page
  • Use this basic format for books: Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Subtitle. Location: Publisher. If a source has several authors, use the ampersand instead of “and.”


Englebardt, S. P., & Nelson, R. (2005). Health care informatics: An interdisciplinary approach. St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

  • Use this basic format for an article in a scholarly journal: Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year). Title of article. Journal’s Title, volume number(issue number), pages.


Reisman, M. (2017). EHRs: The challenge of making electronic data usable and interoperable. P&T, 42(9), 572–575.

In summary, quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing are used for sharing authors’ ideas and supporting the argument of the paper without plagiarism. These guidelines present simplified rules illustrating the differences between quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing and their usage, along with basic rules for formatting sources according to MLA and APA. It is important that every student properly cite sources both within the body of the paper and at the end of it.

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