Paraphrasing is an important skill to acquire in your writing. It allows you to put ideas from sources into your own words and avoid quoting large blocks of text. Even if you paraphrase a source instead of quoting it, American Psychological Association format requires you to cite the text that the paraphrased information comes from.
Guidelines for Paraphrasing
Paraphrasing is not just rearranging the words used in your source, or rewriting a sentence using different vocabulary. The language and phrasing you use in a paraphrased sentence should be your own, and sound like the writing you use in the rest of your essay. If the first attempt at your paraphrased sentence is too close to the original, rewrite your sentence with a different arrangement of words and different vocabulary. If you repeat a phrase of two or more words from your source, you should put this phrase in quotes to signify its origin. If you cannot write a paraphrasing of your source that you are satisfied with, quote directly from your source instead.
Citing Paraphrased Material in APA Style
Whenever you paraphrase material in APA format, you must place an in-text citation in your paper, noting the source you paraphrased. An in-text citation is closed in parentheses, and contains the last name of the source's author and the year the source was published. You may also include the page number of the cited information, though this is not required for paraphrased references. Note that other writing styles will require different information for this in-text citation -- Modern Language Association, for instance, requires only author name and page number. For example, say you were paraphrasing in APA the following sentence from Mircea Eliade's "The Myth of the Eternal Return":
"In fact, the myths of many peoples allude to a very distant epoch when men knew neither death nor toil nor suffering and had a bountiful supply of food merely for the taking."
A paraphrasing of this sentence, with an in-text citation, might look as follows:
One recurring theme in mythology is an ancient time period where humanity lived without the threat of starvation or the burdens of work and pain (Eliade, 2005, p. 91).
- Viktor Čáp/iStock/Getty Images