Guidelines and Examples on How to Cite a Paraphrase in MLA, APA, Chicago, Turabian and Harvard

Intellectual rights and author rights, in particular, are keenly respected in the US – this is a crucial prerequisite for the establishment of normal relationships in various fields: science, education, society, businesses focused on intellectual property (publication of books), mass media, and many industries working with verbal or written communication. It can be argued that in the information society we witness nowadays, being able to cite correctly and attribute data is of paramount importance.

Referencing written works is not an exception but a must. Each citation style has its own strict rules with regard to citing quotes or paraphrasing. Below we explore in greater detail how to cite a paraphrase correctly in the most popular styles in US academic institutions, not only APA and MLA (APA vs MLA), but also Chicago, Turabian, and Harvard, and provide handy tips for achieving this.

How to Cite a Paraphrase

Definition and Purpose

The definition of paraphrasing, as listed by general-purpose English dictionaries, is using your own words to express an idea, thought, or piece of information read or heard somewhere else. Alternatively, it can be defined as simply expressing the meaning of some written or spoken material by incorporating different words or sequences of words than those found in the original piece (reformulating).

In the context of source citing, paraphrasing is defined as a way of using text in your writing without directly quoting it but by still indicating where exactly or who exactly you borrowed this date from.

Direct quoting source material follows much stricter rules and often forces one to carry lots of unnecessary data in order to convey minute details. Trying to deliver a complex message just quoting can easily turn into a nightmare; hence quoting is reserved for just a few special occasions for added effect.

Paraphrasing is typically more efficient and frequent – the purpose is to focus closely on certain aspects and to recombine pieces of information as desired in order to achieve satisfying information density and to convey only carefully selected or processed data. In addition, paraphrasing citations are much easier to integrate in your text compared to quotes. They are very much like summaries. However, they are typically not as concise.

Tips for Effective Paraphrasing and Avoiding Plagiarism

There are a number of useful tips worth considering:

  • To avoid very similar rewordings, try first extracting key points from the text, then expanding these points in your own words and not looking at the original text. Once done, always compare your result with the original to eliminate accidental similarities that could be regarded as plagiarism. Check our free paraphrasing tool and cite with ease.
  • Do not use quotation marks – but if you happen to reuse a longer sequence of text exactly as it appears in the original work, direct quotes incorporated in paraphrases, then put quotation marks for delimiting this fragment and provide page numbers.
  • Don’t copy an author’s wording or even style – doing so might count as plagiarism even if it’s cited provided. The style of paraphrase citation should match that of the paper.
  • Simply replacing synonyms or adding or deleting incidental or optional words isn’t an option – this still counts as plagiarism, even if it might not be picked by a plagiarism detection tool. Hence, more complex reformulation methods should be implemented in combination. Such methods for reformulating phrases include changing sentence structure, synonyms, or similar words, breaking original sentences into multiple ones or merging multiple sentences, and starting sentences differently as compared to original ones.
  • Never change the original meaning in texts you are working with – although this is not plagiarism, it breaks other important academic honesty norms correctly conveying material.
  • Cite all sources and materials that are not your own words to avoid plagiarism accusations.

Create citations to avoid plagiarism

Read also: Did I plagiarize? How to understand this?

APA Paraphrase Citation with Correct and Wrong Examples

The format of an associated paraphrase citation differs across various styles. Thus, an APA paraphrase follows author-date format without indicating page numbers, they are only indicated for direct quotes.

There are two ways of delivering such in-text citations. Parenthetical paraphrasing is one in which information about the source and the author’s family name followed by publication year, separated by a comma, is indicated at the end of a sentence in parentheses. This differs from an in-text citation which incorporates the author’s name into the sentence itself; the year still goes in parentheses.

Read also: Comma Between Month and Year: Main Features

Below is text treated as an original fragment supposedly written by author Smith in 1992, analyzing philosophy works (page 43):

Aristotle defines a function as the appropriate natural activity of an organism. By analogy with how the function of an acorn is to become an oak tree, Aristotle sees the characteristic/ unique function of human beings represented by reasoning. By contrast, nutrition, growth, or simply living is shared with all other beings, including plants, while sensory perception, for instance, is shared with animals, hence, these cannot represent human functions given that they are not unique to humans. Importantly, it is specified that the reasoning must be an active one. Simple possession of reasoning abilities is not enough – these must be applied in practice.

Correct variant:

According to Smith, a function is defined by Aristotle as the natural activity exhibited by living beings (1992). For instance, growth, living, nutrition, and sensory perception are shared with other living beings (plants, animals). Hence, none can represent the human one. The latter, in the philosopher’s view, is reasoning which is characteristic of humans alone, but it can be considered valid/present only when actively applied (Smith, 1992).

Incorrect variant – exact long sequences were reused unaltered without any quotation marks, and some sentences are reused after adding, removing, or substituting only a few words (this counts as plagiarism):

Aristotle gives a definition of function as an organism’s natural undertaking (Smith, 1992). Similarly, with how the purpose of an acorn is to grow into a tree, he sees reasoning as a characteristic purpose of people. Because growth, nutrition, or simply living is common among other beings, including plants, while perception is shared with animals, these cannot represent a person because they are not unique.

How to Cite a Paraphrase in MLA with Correct and Wrong Examples

MLA style citation is more precise than APA in locating information utilized since page number is indicated not only for direct quotes but also for any paraphrase. Thus, for parenthetical citation, one would have to name the author, in particular, family name, along with a page # (without any comma in-between), while for in-text citations, family names are mentioned inside sentences, while pages – in parentheses as MLA follows an author-page format.

Below are examples of how to cite paraphrasing correctly and incorrectly in MLA with the same original paragraph provided earlier.


A function, in Aristotle’s view, is the natural role performed by an organism (Smith 43). For an acorn, it is becoming an oak tree, while for humans, it is reasoning. Indeed, unlike living, eating, growing, and other, reasoning uniquely distinguishes humans from all other living creatures.

Incorrect – there are big mistakes here in conveying the author’s message:

Aristotle explains function as the main undertaking of an organism (Smith 43). Thus, an acorn's purpose is to become a tree, while a person's one is to reason. Operations like nutrition, growth, living, or perceptions cannot be for people because they are less complex/advanced than reasoning.

We hope that these examples of MLA and APA paraphrase citations will be of great use to you. In case you need to cite a paraphrase in other formats, check our ASA, APA, Chicago, or IEEE format citation generator.

How to Cite a Paraphrase in Chicago with Correct and Wrong Examples

Chicago-style citation is meticulous in its approach, allowing for detailed source referencing through footnotes or endnotes, along with a comprehensive bibliography. This style ensures that every piece of borrowed information, whether a direct quote or a paraphrase, is attributed with precision and depth.

Below are examples of how to cite paraphrasing correctly and incorrectly in Chicago style with a reference to an original paragraph.


In the realm of cosmic exploration, the mysteries of the universe unfold through various astronomical phenomena. Smith argues that celestial bodies, such as stars and planets, operate under intricate systems of order and chaos, contributing to the dynamic architecture of the cosmos.^1

  1. John Smith, Cosmic Chronicles (Houston: Astro Publishers, 2023), 78.

Incorrect – the paraphrase does not maintain the original message’s integrity:

The universe is filled with various elements, like stars and planets, that follow a specific order. Smith believes that these elements have a systematic way of organizing themselves, which is essential for the universe’s structure.^1

  1. John Smith, Cosmic Chronicles (Houston: Astro Publishers, 2023), 78.

We hope that these examples of Chicago-style paraphrase citations will be immensely beneficial for your academic writing. For further assistance in citing paraphrases in various formats, consider exploring additional resources or citation generators that cater to styles such as ASA, APA, MLA, or IEEE.

How to Cite a Paraphrase in Turabian with Correct and Wrong Examples

Turabian style, akin to Chicago, is meticulous in its citation approach, allowing detailed source referencing through footnotes or endnotes, along with a comprehensive bibliography. This style ensures that every piece of borrowed information, whether a direct quote or a paraphrase, is attributed with precision and clarity.

Below are examples of how to cite paraphrasing correctly and incorrectly in Turabian style with a reference to an original paragraph.


Exploring the realms of ancient civilizations unveils a tapestry of cultural, technological, and artistic advancements. Johnson posits that the architectural marvels of ancient Egypt stand as testaments to the civilization's ingenuity and aesthetic sensibilities, reflecting a profound understanding of aesthetics and engineering.^1

  1. Linda Johnson, Architectural Wonders of Ancient Egypt (Cairo: Nile Press, 2024), 152.

Incorrect – the paraphrase is not faithful to the original message:

Ancient civilizations, like Egypt, have left behind remarkable structures that showcase their progress in various fields. Johnson mentions that the buildings in ancient Egypt display a significant level of creativity and technical knowledge, representing their advanced understanding of art and mechanics.^1

  1. Linda Johnson, Architectural Wonders of Ancient Egypt (Cairo: Nile Press, 2024), 152.

We hope that these examples of Turabian style paraphrase citation will be instrumental in enhancing your academic writing. For further guidance in citing paraphrases in various formats, consider exploring additional resources or citation generators that cater to styles such as ASA, APA, Chicago, or MLA.

How to Cite a Paraphrase in Harvard with Correct and Wrong Examples

Harvard referencing style is prevalent in academic writing, emphasizing the author-date system. This style ensures clarity and precision, allowing readers to trace the sources used in the text easily. Paraphrased content, too, needs to be accurately attributed to maintain the integrity of the academic work.

Below are examples of how to cite paraphrasing correctly and incorrectly in Harvard style with a reference to an original paragraph.


The exploration of quantum mechanics unveils a realm where particles operate under principles that defy classical physics (Taylor, 2025). Taylor’s work elucidates the peculiar behaviors of particles at the quantum level, emphasizing the probabilistic nature of their positions and momenta.

Incorrect – the paraphrase is somewhat misleading and deviates from the original author’s message:

Quantum mechanics is a field that studies the unusual behaviors of particles, suggesting that particles move in a manner that is not entirely aligned with the traditional laws of physics (Taylor, 2025).


Taylor, J. (2025) Quantum Realms: The Unseen World, Scientific Press, New York.

We hope that these examples of Harvard-style paraphrase citations will be valuable in refining your academic writing. For further assistance in citing paraphrases in various formats, consider exploring additional resources or citation generators that cater to styles such as APA, Chicago, MLA, or Turabian.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Navigating the nuances of paraphrasing can be a challenging endeavor, and writers often find themselves entangled in common pitfalls. Here’s a guide to identifying and avoiding these prevalent mistakes:

Over-Reliance on Source Vocabulary:

  • Mistake: Using too many words or phrases from the original text, making the paraphrase too close to the source.
  • Avoidance Strategy: Aim for a genuine reinterpretation of the source material using your own words and expressions. Ensure that the essence of the information is retained while showcasing your understanding and perspective, which will also enhance the originality of your content.

Inadequate Citation:

  • Mistake: Failing to properly cite the paraphrased content, leading to issues of plagiarism or academic dishonesty.
  • Avoidance Strategy: Always ensure that the paraphrased sections are correctly cited according to the chosen citation style. Proper citation maintains the integrity of the academic work and gives due credit to the original authors.

Loss of Original Meaning:

  • Mistake: The paraphrased content deviates significantly from the original message, leading to misinterpretation or loss of essential information.
  • Avoidance Strategy: Regularly cross-check the paraphrased content with the original source. This practice ensures that the core message and intent are preserved, maintaining the accuracy and reliability of the information presented.


  • Mistake: Making the paraphrased content unnecessarily complex or convoluted, hindering readability and comprehension.
  • Avoidance Strategy: Aim for clarity and conciseness in your paraphrasing. Ensure that the content is accessible and easily understandable, promoting effective communication and engagement with the readers.

Legit Paraphrasing and Writing Help

Learning how to quote a paraphrase is a skill of paramount importance since it’s the chief method through which information from external sources is cited within written works. In fact, following academic honesty standards, one needs to cite virtually all data that cannot be qualified as common knowledge or personal experience/ reflections (research papers contain a minimum of these two).

When contracting our professional writing service, which always answers your request "write my annotated bibliography", you can rest assured that academic honesty is strictly prioritized and that paraphrasing and citations are done following corresponding rules by conveying information with high fidelity and avoiding plagiarism. Proper attention is given to all other aspects of research writing.

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