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Writing & Citation Guide

This LibGuide connects you with resources to assist with citing your sources using MLA, APA, Chicago/Turabian Style citation .

Quoting---You directly use a source’s words to convey their point. The quote should appear exactly as it does in the source being used, although you may use ellipsis or brackets to indicate any changes you make in order to make your sentence grammatically correct. Remember that you must put quotation marks around all quoted material. Quotes are most useful in situations when the author’s exact wording is important, or when you feel that the author’s wording is clear and concise. Hint: While quoting, think of yourself as a journalist.

Summarizing- You capture the overall point or main idea of a source. For example, you might summarize an entire movie’s plot or a book’s major theme. Summarizing is particularly useful for condensing “big picture” ideas into a discussion of the work in general and in its entirety. Hint: While summarizing, think of yourself as a film critic or book reviewer.

Paraphrasing- You use your own words to discuss a specific source’s idea. This is often useful in situations when you can state this idea more clearly or concisely than the source has. For paraphrasing, strive for brevity while capturing the idea of a sentence or paragraph’s point (think “smaller picture,” local ideas). For example, instead of quoting a whole paragraph, you might paraphrase the main idea in the paragraph in a sentence or two. Hint: While paraphrasing, think of yourself as a translator. 

What is a Summary?

A summary is an overview of a text. The main idea is given, but details, examples and formalities are left out. Used with longer texts, the main aim of summarizing is to reduce or condense a text to its most important ideas. Summarizing is a useful skill for making notes from readings and in lectures, writing an abstract/synopsis and incorporating material in assignments.

How to summarize

The amount of detail you include in a summary will vary according to the length of the original text, how much information you need and how selective you are:

Start by reading a short text and highlighting the main points as you read.

Reread the text and make notes of the main points, leaving out examples, evidence etc.

Without the text, rewrite your notes in your own words; restate the main idea at the beginning plus all major points.

When to summarize

Summarize long sections of work, like a long paragraph, page or chapter. 

  • To outline the main points of someone else's work in your own words, without the details or examples.
  • To include an author's ideas using fewer words than the original text.
  • To briefly give examples of several differing points of view on a topic.
  • To support claims in, or provide evidence for, your writing.

Created by UNSW Sydney

What is Paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing is a way of presenting a text, keeping the same meaning, but using different words and phrasing. Paraphrasing is used with short sections of text, such as phrases and sentences.

A paraphrase may result in a longer, rather than shorter, version of the original text. It offers an alternative to using direct quotations and helps students to integrate evidence/ source material into assignments. Paraphrasing is also a useful skill for making notes from readings, note-taking in lectures, and explaining information in tables, charts and diagrams.

How to paraphrase

  • Read the source carefully. It is essential that you understand it fully.
  • Identify the main point(s) and key words.
  • Cover the original text and rewrite it in your own words. Check that you have included the main points and essential information.
  • Write the paraphrase in your own style. Consider each point; how could you rephrase it?
    • Meaning: ensure that you keep the original meaning and maintain the same relationship between main ideas and supporting points.
    • Words: Use synonyms (words or expression which have a similar meaning) where appropriate. Key words that are specialised subject vocabulary do not need to be changed.
    • If you want to retain unique or specialist phrases, use quotation marks (“ “).
    • Change the grammar and sentence structure. Break up a long sentence into two shorter ones or combine two short sentences into one. Change the voice (active/passive) or change word forms (e.g. nouns, adjectives).
    • Change the order in which information/ ideas are presented (as long as they still make sense in a different order).
    • Identify the attitude of the authors to their subject (i.e. certain, uncertain, critical etc) and make sure your paraphrase reflects this. Use the appropriate .
  • Review your paraphrase checking that it accurately reflects the original text but is in your words and style.
  • Record the original source (including the page number) so that you can provide a reference.

When to paraphrase

Paraphrase short sections of work only; a sentence or two or a short paragraph.

  • As an alternative to a direct quotation.
  • To rewrite someone else's ideas without changing the meaning.
  • To express someone else's ideas in your own words.
  • To support claims in, or provide evidence for, your writing.


Created by UNSW Sydney


What is a Quotation? 

A quotation is an exact reproduction of spoken or written words. Direct quotes can provide strong evidence, act as an authoritative voice, or support a writer's statements. For example:

Critical debates about the value of popular culture often raise the spectres of Americanisation and cultural imperialism, particular issues for a 'provincial' culture. However, as Bell and Bell (1993) point out in their study of Australian-American cultural relations: "culture is never simply imposed 'from above' but is negotiated through existing patterns and traditions." (Bell & Bell 1993, p. 9)

How to quote

Make sure that you have a good reason to use a direct quotation. Quoting should be done sparingly and should support your own work, not replace it. For example, make a point in your own words, then support it with an authoritative quote.

  • Every direct quotation should appear between quotation marks (" ") and exactly reproduce text, including punctuation and capital letters.
  • A short quotation often works well integrated into a sentence.
  • Longer quotations (more than 3 lines of text) should start on a new line, be indented and in italics. 

When to quote

  • When the author's words convey a powerful meaning.
  • When you want to use the author as an authoritative voice in your own writing.
  • To introduce an author's position you may wish to discuss.
  • To support claims in, or provide evidence for, your writing.

Created by UNSW Sydney


What is Plagiarism?

According to the RBC Student Handbook (2016):

Plagiarism: the presentation, with intent to deceive, or with disregard for proper scholarly procedures of a significant scope, of any information, ideas, or phrasing of another as if they were one’s own without giving appropriate credit to the Page 17 of 71 original source.

a) One commits plagiarism when one includes the words of another without quotation or when one includes the substantive work of another without properly crediting the source with footnotes, quotation marks, or other appropriate citation.

b) A student’s intent may be inferred based on the extent and context of the improperly cited material and whether the student has provided false citation or has manipulated the original text such that a reasonable person may conclude the student did so in order to avoid detection.

c) Disregard for proper scholarly procedure that is minimal in scope may be addressed solely as an academic matter, and the instructor may determine whether an academic penalty should be applied without pursuing resolution under the Honor Code. But any intentional acts of plagiarism or disregard for the scholarly procedure of a significant scope should be treated as a violation of the Honor Code.


How to Avoid Plagiarism: