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Citation Style Guides: Quoting and paraphrasing


When you write a paper for a university class, you will be expected to express the results of your research in your own words. Copying an entire paper, or even words or ideas from a source and presenting this as your own work is called plagiarism and is a major form of academic dishonesty.

To ensure that you aren't plagiarizing, you need to give credit to the creators of the original ideas, every single time you use them. This can be achieved by quoting or paraphrasing those ideas, and then citing the original source.

How do you include all of the information that you've found into your essay? This video from the now-defunct Cooperative Library Instruction Project and hosted by the Downs-Jones Library gives step-by-step instruction on how to incorporate your sources into the body of your essay, whether by direct quoting, paraphrasing or summarizing. It teaches about analyzing sources and using them to support your argument.

When and how to quote

When you quote, include a citation (in-text, footnote or endnote depending on the style guide you're following) that identifies precisely where the quotation came from. The example below is quoted, and then cited using a footnote in Chicago Style:

"There were differences in attitude and practice between the men of the two companies; yet fur-trade society developed its own marriage rite, marriage à la façon du pays, which combined both Indian and European marriage customs. In this, the fur-trade society of Western Canada appears to have been exceptional."1

1. Sylvia Van Kirk, Many Tender Ties: Women in Fur-Trade Society, 1670-1870 (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1983), 4.

How to paraphrase

As per the Writing at the University of Toronto website, "to paraphrase means to restate someone else’s ideas in your own language at roughly the same level of detail." 

When you paraphrase a source, you are required to give credit for information and ideas you have taken from that source.

Acceptable Paraphrasing

Van Kirk (1983) points out that the fur-trade in Western Canada formed a unique society based on marriages between Indian woman and European traders. A form of marriage known as à la façon du pays developed which was based on a combination of Indian and European traditions (p. 4).
Reference List
Van Kirk, S. (1983). Many tender ties: women in fur-trade society, 1670-1870. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.

This writer has rearranged the sentences and rephrased most of Van Kirk's paragraph in his own words, but has clearly indicated that the idea comes from her work, and has included the citation information, using APA style.  

Unacceptable Paraphrasing

Fur-trade society developed a marriage rite, marriage à la façon du pays, which combined European and Indian customs. This was very different from the way white men treated native women in most other areas of the world, where sexual contact was usually illicit and essentially peripheral to the trading or colonization ventures.

This is unacceptable because it just rewrites Van Kirk's sentences and doesn't acknowledge her as the source of either the information or the central idea.

Be sure not to include too much word-for-word copying from the original source when paraphrasing. When in doubt, ask your professor for help. After all, he or she is the one who will be grading your paper!

If you require more assistance with paraphrasing or quoting, visit the Writing Help Centre on the first floor of the Murray Library and speak to one of our tutors.

Using commonly-known facts

Commonly known facts are basic facts that can be found in any general source on the subject, and are likely to already be known by most people. Because they're so commonly known, you don't need to provide a source for the information.


Sir John A. MacDonald was Canada's first Prime Minister.

Saskatoon, situated on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River, is often called the City of Bridges.

* Your instructor may have a different interpretation of what is and isn't common knowledge. When in doubt, defer to your instructor!

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