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APA Style Guide: Paraphrasing & Writing

This guide is designed to help students learn about APA style and cite sources for their research.


The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association provides detailed guidelines for using APA style.

The most recent edition of the manual is currently available on Reserve at the Library Help Desk.

For lists of changes found in the 7th edition of the APA manual, visit

Paraphrasing vs. Quoting

Paraphrasing is when you use an idea from a piece of writing, but put it in your own words; you can change the structure and words but must stay true to the meaning of the passage. It is not necessary to provide a page number in your citation unless you think it will be difficult for the reader to locate the passage you are citing. Paraphrasing still needs to refer to the author but does not use quotation marks.

For paraphrases, it is optional to include a specific page number(s), paragraph number(s), or other location (e.g., section name) if the source work being paraphrased is long or complex. For example,

According to Smith (2017), students find it difficult to use correct APA format.

Quoting is when you take a phrase word-for-word from a body of text. You must use quotation marks and you must always reference the original writer/speaker. For example,

1. Parenthetically:
Many students believe "writing an essay with proper APA formatting can be confusing" (Smith, 2017, p.2)

2. Narratively:
Many students believe, according to Smith (2017), that “writing an essay with proper APA formatting can be confusing” (p.2).


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