Paraphrasing Strategies: Comparing Paraphrasing and Quoting

Last updated 5/6/2020


Visual: Screen opens to a background image with a person typing on a laptop and a notebook and pencil, along with the Walden University Writing Center logo. The title Walden University Writing Center and tagline “Your writing, grammar, and APA experts” appears on the screen. The screen changes to show the series title “Paraphrasing Sources" and the video title "Comparing Paraphrasing & Quoting.”

Audio: Guitar music.


Visual: Slide changes to a mostly gray slide with the heading: "Paraphrasing: One form of evidence." Below the heading are two blue circles comparing quotation and paraphrase: 


  • Identical to original
  • Narrow (1+ lines)
  • Cited
    • Quotation marks
    • Author, year, page/paragraph #


  • Your own words & sentence structure
  • Shorter than original
  • Narrow
  • Cited
  • Author/year

Audio:  A quotation is where the wording you’re using is identical to the original source. You are using, word for word, the exact same thing that the original source said. In a paraphrase, you are going to change your wording, change the sentence structure, and still keep the same information, but you're going to put it into your own words.

There is a little bit of a difference in citation between a quotation and a paraphrase. When you cite a quotation, you use quotation marks, you use the author, the year, and then a page number or paragraph number. In a paraphrase, you give the author and the year, and you can choose to give a page number, but it is not required. 

One thing to keep in mind between paraphrasing and quoting is that we really want to be wary of using direct quotations too often. When you use a direct quotation, you're parroting someone else's information, kind of like a little parrot copies and imitates people's words. That is in essence what we're doing. When we use a direct quotation, we're not using our own words, we're using someone else's. It can be helpful to use someone else's words, but to do that often shows we're not critically engaging with the information. We're not really diving in and fully understanding it. I could copy and paste multiple quotations out of a source, but if I don't explain them, integrate them, or use them in any sort of way, why would anyone want to read my work? I’m simply repeating what someone else has already said. Be aware that quotations can be helpful, but you do really want to be wary of using them too often.

Paraphrases, however, are always going to be stronger. When you can take information and put it into your own words, it really shows that you are critically using that text. You're understanding it and are able to rearticulate it in a new and a fresh way.

So those are some differences and similarities in how to cite quotations and paraphrases, but also keep in mind that in academic writing, in general, we prefer writers use paraphrases over quotations.


Visual: The screen changes to an ending slide with slide a background image with a person typing on a laptop and a notebook and pencil, along with the Walden University Writing Center logo. The email address appears on the screen.