Understanding the need of referencing paraphrased material is essential while dealing with academic writing. Citing your sources gives your work legitimacy and shows that you are aware of the sources you use. This tutorial will walk you through the nuances of referencing paraphrases and cover popular citation formats including Chicago, MLA, and APA.

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Understanding paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is the sophisticated art of rephrasing another person’s ideas in a manner that aligns with your writing style, all while retaining the fundamental essence and intended message of the original content. It transcends word substitution, immersing into interpretation and creative expression. This skill allows you to integrate external information seamlessly into your work, demonstrating a mastery of language and a nuanced understanding of the source material.

In essence, paraphrasing is a method of intellectual engagement, where you engage with the thoughts and concepts of others, digest them, and then present them in a manner uniquely your own. It’s a dynamic process that requires a deep comprehension of the subject matter and the ability to articulate it in a manner consistent with your own voice and writing style.

In paraphrasing, preserving the original meaning is always a foundational principle. The crux of effective paraphrasing lies in the ability to capture the essence of the original idea, ensuring that the reader, even without referring to the source, comprehends the intended message.

While the goal is to avoid directly repetition, the emphasis is on more than just replacing words; it’s about understanding the core concept and rearticulating it in a manner that suits the context of your writing. This process demands a keen awareness of the nuances and subtleties of the original text, as well as a proficiency in expressing those ideas in your own words.

Maintaining the original meaning serves multiple purposes. Firstly, it upholds the integrity of the author’s work, respecting their intellectual contribution. Secondly, it allows you to contribute to the ongoing academic or intellectual discourse by presenting ideas in a new light or applying them to a different context. Lastly, it showcases your ability to engage critically with source material, demonstrating a deeper level of understanding beyond surface-level comprehension.

When to Cite a Paraphrase

Citing a paraphrase is necessary whenever you rephrase someone else’s ideas or information in your own words. It’s a key aspect of writing to avoid plagiarism. Here are specific instances when you should cite a paraphrase:

Unique Ideas or InformationWhenever you paraphrase content that includes unique ideas, theories, findings, or data that are not considered common knowledge, you need to cite the source. This shows respect for the original author’s intellectual property.
Specific, Uncommon FactsIf the paraphrased content contains specific facts or figures that are not widely known or easily verifiable, you must provide a citation.
Interpretations or JudgementsWhen you rephrase someone’s analytical perspectives, interpretations, or judgments, it’s essential to acknowledge the original source, as these are specific to the author’s unique viewpoint.
Direct Influence on Your WorkIf the paraphrased material has directly influenced your work or argument, acknowledging the source is necessary to provide context and credibility to your own work.

    How to cite a paraphrase in different styles

    APA, MLA, and Chicago/Turabian are three predominant citation styles used in academic writing, each with its unique conventions and purposes.

    APA Style 7th edition

    The American Psychological Association (APA) style is commonly used in the social sciences. It emphasizes the author’s last name and the year of publication for in-text citations and is known for its clear and concise format, particularly beneficial for scientific writing. APA style also places a strong emphasis on the date of a work, reflecting the importance of recent information in fields like psychology and sociology.

    In-text citation: Include the author’s last name and the year of publication. If directly quoting, include the page number or paragraph number for web content:

    (Lowen, 2022)

    Paraphrase Example:

    Lowen (2022) argues that effective communication skills are essential in the workplace.

    MLA Style 8th Edition

    The Modern Language Association (MLA) style is widely used in the humanities, especially in English literature, cultural studies, and other related fields. Unlike APA, MLA focuses more on the page number for in-text citations to easily locate the referenced part in the original work. This style is characterized by its straightforward approach to citation, which makes it particularly user-friendly for writers and readers alike.

    In-text citation: Include the author’s last name and the page number. If there is no page number, just the author’s name will be enough.

    (Lowen 45)

    Paraphrase Example:

    Effective communication skills play a crucial role in workplace dynamics (Lowen 45).

    Chicago/Turabian Style 17th Edition

    The Chicago/Turabian style offers two systems: an author-date system similar to APA and a notes and bibliography system. The latter is particularly common in history and some other humanities fields, offering flexibility for writers to use footnotes or endnotes. This style is notable for its comprehensive approach and is often used in more extensive research works where detailed citation is necessary.

    In-text citation (Author-Date): Similar to APA, include the author’s last name and year of publication.

    (Lowen 2022)

    Note and Bibliography: In notes, include author’s full name, source title, and page number. In the bibliography, include full details.

    1. Jeremy Lowen, “Effective Communication Techniques,” 45.

    Paraphrase Example (Note):

    Jeremy Lowen notes that effective communication is vital in professional settings.^1

    ^1 Jeremy Lowen, “Effective Communication Techniques,” 45.

    In each case, ensure that you are rephrasing the original text in your own words and maintaining the original meaning. The citation provides credit to the original author for their ideas.


    In conclusion, mastering the art of paraphrasing and proper citation is indispensable in academic writing. It not only showcases your commitment to scholarly integrity but also allows readers to trace the roots of your ideas, fostering a culture of academic transparency.


    Are there different citation styles for paraphrasing?

    Yes, there are different citation styles for paraphrasing, and the one you use depends on the guidelines of your discipline or the requirements of your publication. Common styles include APA (American Psychological Association), MLA (Modern Language Association), and Chicago/Turabian. Each style has specific rules for how to cite paraphrased material.

    Can I use the same citation as the original source?

    When you paraphrase a source, you should cite it in the same way you would if you were quoting it directly, but without quotation marks. This means using the same citation format and details as the original source, adapted to your chosen citation style.

    How do I avoid plagiarism when paraphrasing?

    To avoid plagiarism when paraphrasing, you need to thoroughly understand the original text and then express it in your own words, without copying the structure or wording. It’s important to cite the source of the paraphrased material. Additionally, using your own voice and style in the paraphrased content can further differentiate it from the original text.

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