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Lehigh University Libraries - Library Guides

Avoiding Plagiarism: Quoting and Summarizing

Learn about plagiarism and how to avoid it.

What Is Quoting?

In a quote, you are using word-for-word a passage written by another author.  When quoting, make sure to:

  • Start and end the quote with quotation marks (")
  • Use the exact words the original author did- do not leave out words like 'not'!
  • Have a citation for the original source.

Quotes are extremely powerful and should be used rarely. When you quote another author, you are surrendering your own voice and giving the stage to somebody else.  Use quotes only when the original author has said something so perfectly, so poignantly, you could not say it any better yourself. 

Many majors in the sciences and social sciences do not use quotes at all; paraphrasing and summarizing are the norm in those fields.

Sample Quote

A sample quote, cited in MLA style:

"Feeling uneasy, doubtful or overwhelmed about your investigation is not just a common, but an essential, part of human experience, the labor pains that lead from ignorance to accomplishment" (George 23).

The citation tells the reader to look at page 23 of the work by George, listed in the bibliography.

What Is Summarizing?

Summarizing is a short passage sharing the main points of a book or an article.  When summarizing, make sure to:

  • Use your own words (don't copy from an abstract or review!)
  • Aim for a broad view of the work; the summary should be much shorter than what it is summarizing.
  • Provide a citation.

Summaries are often used in literature reviews of research articles, or to give a brief description of a book.

Sample Summary

Here is a summarization in APA format:

Students who are most successful in research bring a sense of curiosity and inquiry to their projects (George, 2008).

This in-text citation alerts the reader to look at the entry for George in the bibliography for a full citation.  The 2008 refers to the date of publication, which APA requires.

Writing And Citing Resources

It is crucial that you correctly cite your resources. The following online resources can help you avoid plagiarism as you write your academic papers.