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Citing Sources

Plagiarism, Paraphrasing and Citing

Definition of Plagiarism: Presenting another person’s work as your own- such as through improper citation, cutting and pasting from a website, or using work created by someone else.


Example of Verbatim Plagiarism

Let’s assume you have the following quote in the journal article you are summarizing (this is the original wording with a correct quotations citation):

Enthusiasts claim that DHEA gives them more energy, restores muscle tone, boosts their cognitive abilities and perks up their libido (Kluger, 1996, p. 94).

If in your paper you wrote the following (and did not cite including quotations marks and the page number):

Enthusiasts claim that DHEA gives them more energy, restores muscle tone, boosts their cognitive abilities and perks up their libido.

This is an example of quoting verbatim (without citation) and is very serious. Do not copy from your resource unless you cite it correctly. Do not copy from other sources or websites. While your professor may not catch every person who copies, most professors catch and penalize students every semester for copying verbatim from websites or articles. It is not enough to have a reference at the end of the paper. If you quote material word for word (verbatim) them you MUST cite it appropriately or you are plagiarizing.

Example of Poor Paraphrasing Plagiarism

If you only change the wording slightly and do not cite, you will still be plagiarizing For example, if you wrote:

Enthusiasts report that DHEA gives them more energy, restores muscle tone, boosts their cognitive ability and increases their libido.

First, if this is your paraphrase, you need to go back and try a little harder- a good rule of thumb is no more than 3 original words in a row. Since you paraphrased (and not very well) and also did not cite it, you are still plagiarizing. When it is this close to the original wording it is still considered a quote and would need to be cited as such (better to quote correctly or paraphrase correctly in all instances). When in doubt- cite a source

Example of Uncited Paraphrasing

Another form of plagiarism does not copy word for word, but instead copies the content of the material and is not cited correctly. If you wrote the following:

People who like DHEA say that it enhances their energy and their memory as well as their sex drive.

Again, although this is a much better paraphrase, without citation this is plagiarism. While the words may be your own, the idea/research is not. Give credit where credit is due. While this paraphrasing would not need quotation marks it would need a correct citation at the end of the sentence, in this case it would be (Kluger, 1996).


Whenever you are using information from a source, you must cite that source. The only exception to this is common knowledge information. Common knowledge is things that most people would know.

  • If you are using information from a source word-for-word it is a quote and needs quotation marks and a correct citation including the page number.
  • If you are only changing a few words from the original version that is not considered paraphrasing and is not good writing format. Avoid doing this: instead paraphrase and cite correctly or when the wording needs to stay exactly that way, quote and cite correctly.
  • If you are paraphrasing well (see the above example) the wording is your own but the information isn't, so you still must cite that information at the end of the sentence.
  • References at the end of an assignment/paper are not enough to give credit where it is due. All information from sources needs to be cited at the end of the sentence in which the information is included.


If you have questions about what constitutes plagiarism, please ask your professor before you turn in your work (asking does not cost you anything, plagiarizing does).


Originally created by Professor Lynne Weber and updated by the Harrisburg Area Community College APA Curriculum Review Team. Date reviewed: May 2020.