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Lehigh University Libraries - Library Guides

Avoiding Plagiarism: Tips and Tricks


What is quoting?  It's copying a passage written by another author.  When quoting:

  • As a rule, surround the text with quotation marks (").
  • For block (longer) quotations, consult a style guide.
  • Cite the original source.

Use quotes only when the original author has said something so poignantly that you could not have said it better yourself. 

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

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.


In a paraphrase, you take someone else's ideas and thoughts and put them in your own words.  When paraphrasing:

  • Cite the original source.
  • Change the wording and sentence structure.

Paraphrasing is demanding; it does not simply involve using a thesaurus to replace words from the original source with synonyms.  You want to capture the essence of the original idea while using fundamentally different wording and sentence structure.

Paraphrasing is more detailed than summarizing the contents or main idea of an article or book.

Unlike a quote, which repeats someone else's words, paraphrasing allows you to retain your own voice in your narrative.  Paraphrasing shows a deeper level of understanding about the original source than quoting. 

  1. Read and mark up the passage until you understand it.
  2. Without looking at the passage, note the main points of the passage.
  3. Use your notes to write a coherent interpretation of the passage.
  4. Now, look back at the original and confirm the original and paraphrase are sufficiently different from one another.
  5. Cite the original source.

Original:  The dog jumped over the cat.

Bad paraphrase: The canine hopped over the feline.

Why? This is plagiarism. The sentence structure is exactly the same, with words substituted.

Good paraphrase:  Because the cat was in its way, the dog had to make a running leap.

Why?  It reflects the meaning of the original, but shows the author thought about it for a little bit.

Remember that paraphrases need to be cited!


A summary is a short passage describing the main points of a book or an article.  When summarizing:

  • 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 summarizes.
  • Provide citation(s).

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

Here is a brief summary 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, (George, 2008), alerts the reader to look at the bibliography for a full citation of the work by George.  "2008" refers to the date of publication, which APA requires. The full citation for George, 2008 will appear in the paper's list of references.