Quoting and paraphrasing

Every time you quote, paraphrase or summarise someone else’s work, you need to include an in-text citation. This is usually the author(s), date and, where applicable, page numbers.

Every in-text citation should also have a corresponding full reference in your bibliography.

The information below explains what quoting, paraphrasing and summarising are, and how you can use them in your writing.


Direct quotations are when you quote an author word for word.

Using quotations helps you to include the work of others in your essay or report, and can be especially useful when you are trying to support one of your own ideas. Quotations are most effective when they are short and direct, so try to avoid copying large chunks of text from other people into your work. Direct quotations can also break up the flow of your writing, so use them sparingly.

Remember, it’s your thoughts and ideas that your lecturer is interested in, so always explain why you have quoted from someone, and never finish a paragraph with a direct quotation.

How to layout quotations

You can use ‘single’ or “double” quotation marks, simply choose one style and use it consistently throughout your essay.

Short quotations (typically up to two or three lines long) should be included in your paragraph. For example:

Pixar has a long-standing reputation for high quality animated feature films. One example is Finding Nemo (2003), which ‘augments vivid, classically styled animation technique, rendered using computer graphics, with a story anchored in the expression of long-held truths’ (Clarke, 2013, p. 94). It is in this father-son tale that….

Longer quotations should appear in a separate paragraph, indented from your main text, with the in-text citation at the end of the quotation. Because you are indenting the quotation, there is no need for quotation marks. For example:

According to Rojek:

It is an enormous paradox that democracy…cannot proceed without creating celebrities who stand above the common citizen and achieve veneration and god-like worship (Rojek, 2001, p.198).

This view suggests that democracy itself is responsible for the creation of celebrity culture.

Paraphrasing and summarising

Paraphrasing and summarising are when you express someone else’s thoughts or ideas in your own words, often in a more concise way.

Paraphrasing is when you re-write a sentence, paragraph or page into your own words.

Summarising is when you give the main points of an entire chapter, book or webpage.

The benefits of paraphrasing and summarising are:

  • You demonstrate your understanding of their work
  • You can often express their ideas more succinctly and with greater clarity
  • It makes your writing flow better than the stop / start of using direct quotations.

The most important things to remember are you MUST keep the original meaning, and you MUST include clear in-text citations so that your lecturer can tell which are your own thoughts and ideas, and which are someone else’s.

How to layout paraphrases and summaries

When you are paraphrasing you can incorporate the author in your sentence:

According to Rojek (2001, p. 198) there is an inherent irony in the democratic system, which intends to promote equality for all but which relies on figureheads to lead the people and be adored.

Or you can include the author in your citation at the end of your sentence:

It has been argued that there is an inherent irony in the democratic system, which intends to promote equality for all but which relies on figureheads to lead the people and be adored (Rojek, 2001, p. 198).

In any case, in both the examples above the original point made by Rojek has been re-written using completely different language. This shows to your lecturer that you have understood and analysed the idea, but as the idea is still originally Rojek’s an in-text citation and reference must still be included.

Summarising does not go into the same level as detail as paraphrasing, because you are referring to a larger piece of work than perhaps a paragraph or page.

Summarising could look like this:

In her study of Greek legend and contemporary art (Appleton, 2015), it is clear that many contemporary artists continue to pay homage to Greek mythology.

The example above summarises a whole chapter into one sentence, but still references the author and date to acknowledge the work of the original author.

Paraphrasing/summarising is also how you should incorporate factual information into your work. You do not need to use quotations for factual information, you can simply state it in your own words and then include your citation in brackets at the end. For example:

The Arts Council is increasing the number of museums it supports to 21, with funding raised to £22.6M (Arts Council, 2014)