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APA Style - Information and Examples


At this stage of your education you are not considered experts on the topics that you are researching. Therefore, it is your job to find: experts writing and conducting research in their field, reliable sources, and trustworthy information all of which you will then synthesize into your own new ideas or conclusions. Citations are important, because they give credit to the authors who helped you develop your ideas.  Citations also give your paper authority. They demonstrate to your instructors that you understand what you have read and that your conclusions are build upon work of other trustworthy sources.

By properly paraphrasing, directly quoting, and citing your sources, you do a number of things that will help boost your chances for full-credit on your assignment. Here are a few tips:

  • Ask yourself, will these sources impress my instructor? You should be proud of all your sources! Show them off by using proper citations.
  • Remember that you are not the expert, but your sources should be. By properly utilizing information from a quality source, you add authority to your own ideas and arguments.
  • Most of your paper should be your own work (words, ideas, and conclusions) inspired by your sources, but not directly copied. Paraphrase the information that you get from your sources as much as possible and limit the use of direct quotations to only when necessary.
    This demonstrate to your instructor that you understand what you have read and that you are able talk about it and drawn parallels & conclusions of your own.


Always Cite Your Sources!
Whether you quote, paraphrase or summarize, you MUST always provide a citation for the sources that you used in order to not plagiarize and to receive full-credit for your work.


taking a small excerpt from your source and explaining it into your own words.


gives an overview of the main points from an entire source (e.g., and entire book or article).

In both cases, it is important to cite your sources.  The video below explains more.  

Direct Quotes (using an author's exact words):

  • College-level writing is about processing information and creating your own new ideas, so you should only use direct quotes (i.e., an author's exact words) when it is absolutely necessary (e.g., when an author uses unique terminology).  Other times you should summarize or paraphrase. 
  • If you do quote directly, quote only partial sentences, not full sentences or paragraphs, unless you are providing a critical analysis of a text (e.g., a story or poem).
  • Be sure that all direct quotes are enclosed with quotation marks "direct quotation"

For more detail and examples, see:

Purdue OWL: Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing.

Purdue OWL provides an excellent example showing quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing in the same paragraph:

In his famous and influential work the Interpretation of Dreams, Sigmund Freud argues that dreams are the "royal road to the unconscious" (page #), expressing in coded imagery the dreamer's unfulfilled wishes through a process known as the "dream-work" (page #). According to Freud, actual but unacceptable desires are censored internally and subjected to coding through layers of condensation and displacement before emerging in a kind of rebus puzzle in the dream itself (page #).


Quoting: "royal road to the unconscious" and "dream-work"

Paraphrasing: "According to Freud, actual..."

Summarizing: "In his famous and influential work..."

For more paraphrasing examples, see Successful vs. Unsuccessful Paraphrasing.

Source: Driscoll, Dana and Allen Brizee. "Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing." Purdue Online Writing Lab. Purdue University, 14 Dec. 2011. Web. 27 Jul. 2012.

What is Plagiarism?


Plagiarism is copying an author's work and passing it off as your own. There are also less obvious forms of plagiarism and the consequences can be severe, such as: failing an assignment, failure of a class, or even expulsion.


Plagiarism is a tricky topic for many students, but two rules will help guide you:

1. When in doubt, cite it!  There are some cases where you may not need to cite (e.g., common knowledge), but plagiarism is a "better safe than sorry" situation.  If you are not sure whether a source needs to be cited, go ahead and cite it!

2. Ask a librarian!  Librarians are the citation/plagiarism experts and are happy to help you.  This guide will explain some of the general concepts of plagiarism, but you might still be unsure of what to do in your particular case.  Ask a librarian in person, by phone or via the chat box on the homepage.