Skip to Main Content

Referencing, citations and avoiding plagiarism (MTU Kerry): Paraphrasing and quotations

Referencing, citations and avoiding plagiarism (MTU Kerry)

Using quotations and paraphrasing in your work

Almost all academic writing will involve, at some point, the use of paraphrasing and quotations. The quotations will normally be short. However, occasionally the use of longer quotations may be necessary also. This page offers advice and support on how best to integrate paraphrasing and quotations in your work, with links to a range of sources on best practice in this area. The distinction between paraphrasing and quotation, as outlined below, may be a useful place to start.

Quoting: To quote is to include the identical wording from the original source in your paper. Quoted material in your paper is distinguished from your own words by the use of " " or by indenting the quoted text (if quoting a longer passage). In addition to quotation marks or indenting, all quoted material should also be cited, using either footnotes, endnotes, or in-text citation.

Paraphrasing: To paraphrase is to include the ideas or information from an original source in your paper by rephrasing those ideas or information in your own words. The key to successful paraphrasing is to use as few words as possible from the original text--be mindful not to change the meaning that you are trying to convey as you rephrase--and to cite your paraphrase. Without proper citation, your paraphrase could be construed as plagiarism.

SOURCE: iParadigms, 2014.



The University of Reading offers useful advice on its web page on using quotations:

"... it is poor practice to use a lot of direct quotes from someone else's work. Your assignment should be mostly written in your own words, using evidence from your research to support or challenge your statements. When it is appropriate to use direct quotes, these should generally be kept as brief as possible......"

It recommends that "Long quotes (more than three or four lines) are set out in your text in a 'block' - started on a new line and indented at left and sometimes right."

Using short quotes

The University of Reading's web page offers further advice, with examples on using short quotes here.

Using long quotes

Advice on incorporating long quotes in your writing can be found here.


This guide from the University of Cambridge's website also offers advice on using Short versus Long Quotations.   

(Source: C. Trowell, Marshall Librarian, Cambridge University Library)


Paraphrasing, or putting other's words and ideas in your own words, can be a difficult skill to master at first. The University of Reading's Study Advice unit offers advice and an example of a paraphrased text excerpt, which can be found here.   

The University of Reading's video clip screencast on Using Paraphrases offers tips for better paraphrasing and a 3-step approach.

This example from the University of Cambridge's website is particularly instructive in taking an original piece of text and then contrasting two examples, one poor and one good, of paraphrasing of this original text. Poor paraphrase versus Good paraphrase example.

(Source: C. Trowell, Marshall Librarian, Cambridge University Library)

How to use long and short quotes - a video tutorial

Sample paragraph using paraphrasing and quotations

An example of a possible paragraph from an essay is detailed below (using paraphrasing, short quotations and sources cited in the IT Tralee Library: Brief Guide to citations and referencing).

Greetham (2008, p.257) has described plagiarism as “the attempt to present someone else’s ideas as your own”. One way to ensure that you avoid plagiarism is to use quotation marks where you have quoted exactly from an author and also to include the citation at this point, with full details in the reference list at the end of your assignment. Both Cottrell (2008) and Neville (2010) highlight the importance of correct referencing for both tracing the source of your ideas and also in supporting and adding validity to your arguments. While Northedge (2005) suggests that ideally quotes should be short and not used excessively, he also stresses the importance of always giving the correct reference, something Davis and Plaice (2011, p.148) describes as “an integral part of writing your essay”. The need to be “as concise as possible” when you quote is a point that is also made by iParadigms (2014).

Your reference list for the above paragraph – using the Anglia Ruskin Harvard Referencing Style - would be written as detailed below. Please note that this reference list is also the reference list for the printed guide, as the same sources are cited on page 1 of the guide.

Reference List.

Cottrell, S., 2008. The study skills handbook. 3rd ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Davis N. and Plaice, C., 2011. Information literacy: making the library work for you. In: Davis, N. et al., 2011. Learning skills for nursing students. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Greetham, B., 2008. How to write better essays. 2nd ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

iParadigms, 2014. - Best Practices for Ensuring Originality in Written Work.  [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 18 Aug 2015].

Neville, C., 2010. Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism. 2nd ed.  [e-book] Maidenhead: Open University Press. Available through: IT Tralee Library website <> [Accessed 18 August 2015].

Northedge, A., 2005. The good study guide. Milton Keynes: Open University.