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APA 6: Quote, paraphrase, and summarize

Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

Quotations (short and long)

  • Use when you are directly quoting a source, word-for-word, in your paper.

When you directly quote a source, use the exact words of the author or work you are citing.

NOTE: A research project should not be just a series of quotes strung together on the page. Use quotes infrequently. Too many quotes will break up the style and unified flow of your paper.

See pages 170-173 in the APA Manual for more information.

There are two types of quotations typically used: short quotations and long quotations. You will also need to use ellipsis points if you are leaving out (omitting) part of a quote.

Short Quotations (Quotations of fewer than 40 words):

The author, year of publication, and page number (preceded by p.) are needed. Place quotation marks around the quotation.

Here are some examples:


"If you scribble your thoughts any which way, your readers will surely feel that you care nothing about them" (Vonnegut, 1982, p. 150). 

Signal Phrase:

According to Vonnegut (1982), "if you scribble your thoughts any which way, your readers will surely feel that you care nothing about them" (p. 150). 

Long Quotations (Quotations containing 40 or more words):

  • Use a signal phrase to introduce the quote.
  • Direct quotes of 40 words or longer need to be in a "freestanding block of text" (APA 6, p. 171). You must indent the entire quote 5 spaces from the left margin (as if you were starting a new paragraph).
  • Double-space the quotation and do not use quotation marks.
  • The page number in parentheses should come after the quotation's ending punctuation. Example of a long quotation

HINT: There are several methods that can be used to block a quotation. Here is one method:

  • Type the entire quotation without any indentations.
  • Use your mouse to highlight the entire quote.
  • While the quote is highlighted, click the TAB key on your computer keyboard (most TAB indents are set at 0.5").
  • This should indent the entire quote 0.5" and create a block quote. 

If you have any additional questions about block quotations, please look at page 171 of the APA 6 manual. This includes further information on what to do with you have more than one paragraph in the block quotation.

The Use of Ellipsis Points:

If you decide to leave out part of a quotation within your paper, you must still let your reader know that you have left out part of the quote. This is where ellipsis points are needed.

Here is an example:

  • In "How to Write with Style," famed sci-fi writer Kurt Vonnegut (1982) notes that "I myself find that I trust my writing ... when I sound most like a person from Indianapolis ..." (p. 152). 


  • Use when you are using the ideas of another writer in your own words.

When you paraphrase, you place the ideas of another writer into your own words.

NOTE:  A paraphrase is roughly the same length as the original writer's material. For example, a paraphrase of a five-sentence passage will be, as a rule, five sentences long.

For the in-text citation, APA 6 guidelines require the name of the author (or title if the author is unknown) and the year of publication. APA 6 guidelines do not require the use of a page number. 

REMEMBER: Even though you put another person's words (ideas) into your own words by paraphrasing, you must cite the source that the information is taken from. If you do not, you are guilty of plagiarism.  

Here are several paraphrases of the Vonnegut quote: "If you scribble your thoughts any which way, you readers will surely feel that you care nothing about them."

Signal Phrase:

Vonnegut (1982) explains that when writers do not structure and organize their information in meaningful ways, the reader will feel neglected. 



When writers do not structure and organize their information in meaningful ways, the reader will feel neglected (Vonnegut, 1982). 


  • Use when you are taking the ideas of another writer and condensing the information into a shorter more general format.

When you summarize, you are taking the ideas of another person and putting them in your own words. A summary is much shorter and more general in scope then a paraphrase.

For example, a summary of a 5-sentence passage could be as short as one sentence in length.

REMEMBER: When you summarize, you must still give credit to the original author. Failure to do so is to commit plagiarism. 

Here is an example of a summary from the following excerpt:

The excerpt:

Online social network sites may play a role different from that described in early literature on virtual communities. Online interactions do not necessarily remove people from their offline world but may indeed be used to support relationships and keep people in contact, even when life changes move them away from each other. In addition to helping student populations, this use of technology could support a variety of populations, including professional researchers, neighborhood and community members, employees of companies, or others who benefit from maintained ties. 

(Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2007). The benefits of Facebook “friends:” Social capital and college students’ use of online social network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12, 1143-1168. doi:10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00367.x)

A summary of the excerpt:

Online social networks can be beneficial for a variety of people and businesses in the maintenance of relationships and contacts (Ellison, Steinfield, & Lampe, 2007).

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