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MLA 9 Resource Center: How to Paraphrase and Quote

Paraphrasing and Quoting

Paraphrasing and Quoting: MLA Handbook, 9th Ed What is a paraphrase? A good paraphrase conveys the meaning of the source used and attributes it correctly. A paraphrase is information that you have learned from an outside source (book, journal, video, conversation, etc.) that is not common knowledge, put into your own words. Paraphrasing lets you share an author's idea without using direct quotes. What is a quote? The MLA Handbook states that "the accuracy of quotations is crucial. They must reproduce the original sources exactly" (75). Quoting is great when you find a short statement or exact phrase that supports your idea. Quoting lets you use the author's exact words for added effect. So what does that look like? Here's an original source: Despite the myth of mobility in America, the true rule, experts say, is rags to rags, riches to riches. According to Bucknell University economist and author Charles Sackrey, maybe 10 percent climb from the working to the professional class. My father has had a tough time accepting my decision to become a mere newspaper reporter, a field that pays just a little more than construction does. He wonders why I haven’t taken a profitable job like a lawyer. After bricklaying for thirty years, my father promised himself I would take a better job and earn more money with an education. Lubrano, Alfred. "Bricklayer's Boy." Readings for Writers. Indiana River State College Edition. Edited by Jo-Ray McCuen-Metherell and Anthony C. Wrinkler, 15th ed., Cengage Learning, 2013, pp. 552-77. Now put it to use in a paraphrase: Lubrano's father was upset that his son did not make significantly more money as a reporter than he did as a bricklayer, since he hoped his son getting an education would get him a better job (573). This is a paraphrase. The author found a point they wanted to highlight and put it into their own words, saving space and keeping the flow of their own writing. Note the reference to the author at the beginning of the sentence, and the specific page number at the end. And let's use it in a quote: Despite the "the myth of mobility in America, the true rule, experts say, is rags to rags, riches to riches" (Lubrano 573). In this case, the author chose to quote a specific line from the text. By quoting instead of paraphrasing this line, the author is able to directly reproduce a passage from the original source. Attribution is still given.
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