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How to Quote and Paraphrase Evidence


You will learn what quoting and paraphrasing means and how to use both effectively.

Using Evidence

As you research your topic, you should begin collecting information and evidence. 

Evidence comes from other sources, texts, and people who are an authority on a topic. Historians, specialists, and professionals dedicate their lives to studying a topic. What they have to say about a person, place, or an event is correct. As a result, this evidence helps you support and prove your main point to your readers.

Quoting and Paraphrasing

You can include outside information in your writing in two ways: paraphrasing and quoting.

Paraphrasing a text is when you write information from the original source in your own words.

Quoting is when you copy the text exactly as it is from the original source and place it in quotation marks.

When Should I Paraphrase and When Should I Quote?

​Watch the video below to learn more about when to use quotations and when to paraphrase evidence:

Quoting Text

When you quote a text, you are taking information from another source and using it in its original form in your writing. There are many benefits to quoting a text.

When pulled from a primary source like a journal or letter, quoting shows exactly what the creator was thinking. When pulled from a secondary source, quoted text can indicate that the information is important and comes from an authoritative source.

Quotes should be used sparingly, include just a few in your paper for emphasis!

When to Quote

Quotes should only be used occasionally, but they can serve an important role in your writing. Only use quotes when:

  • You can’t find a better way of stating the author’s idea
  • You want to add emphasis to the idea by making it stand out

When Not to Quote

Quotes from experts can add authority to your writing. However, a paper that is just a string of quotes from different authors can be very hard to read. Before you include a quote in your writing, ask yourself:

  • Can I say this better/in fewer words?
  • Does this sound disjointed from the rest of my writing?

If you answer “yes” to these questions, don’t include the quote. Try paraphrasing instead.​

Paraphrasing Text

Like quoting, paraphrasing is the use of another person’s ideas in your writing. Paraphrasing differs from quoting, however, because you are not using the content in its original format.

Instead, when paraphrasing, you rewrite the original content in your own words. Most of the evidence you include in your paper will be paraphrased!

Read the entire article Examples of Par​aphrasing to see how to paraphrase correctly to avoid plagiarism.

Why Paraphrase?

In order to fully develop your ideas, you need to include evidence from other sources. But sometimes it’s hard to make that evidence fit into your paper.

You can paraphrase the evidence you find by putting it in your own words and condensing it, so it fits with the rest of your writing.

Paraphrasing most of your evidence will make it easier to add your own analysis, and will make your paper easier for others to read – because everything is in one voice.​

Example of Paraphrasing with Limited Quotes

Read the example paragraph. Hover your mouse over the icons on the text to read an explanation of how the author uses paraphrasing and quotations in their writing.

Example of Too Many Quotes

Read the paragraph with too many quotes:

Much of what we know about the Ancient Maya religion comes from the books they created. Each book, called a codex, “…could be linked to religion, astronomy, the agriculture cycles, history or prophecies” (Martí). In addition to these themes, “…much of the content and the design of the codex itself were related to the spiritual world” (Martí). To create these sacred books, priests followed many steps. According to Martí, “Priests had to undergo purification and renovation rites in preparation for readings that they gave the population during festivals and special ceremonies.”

Martí, Beatriz. Mayan Codices.

Now, listen to the audio clip below:


When you use quoted or paraphrased evidence from another source, you need to use citations.

Citations let the reader know who the original author is and where the information came from. Including citations helps to prevent plagiarism, which is using another person’s original information and passing it off as your own.

MLA 8 Citations

MLA citations happen in two places in your paper:

  • the Works Cited page includes a list with citations of each source
  • in-text citations show the reader where information in your paper came from​


You learned what quoting and paraphrasing means and how to use both effectively.