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Plagiarism and You

This tutorial will show you how to use information correctly without plagiarizing. You will learn how to recognize plagiarism, and how to tell the difference between plagiarism and appropriate use of information in research papers.

Using someone else’s words or ideas without properly giving credit is plagiarism. To avoid plagiarism, there are three important things to keep in mind: citing your sources, using quotation marks, and paraphrasing.

For a printable version of this information, download the Plagiarism & You PDF.


Citing Your Sources

Any time you use words from another source, such as a Web site, book, journal article, or even a friend’s English paper, you must give proper credit to the source.

Even if you don’t use someone else’s words, but you refer to an idea or concept from another source, you must also give credit.

“Citing your sources” means giving all of the information about your source, such as author, title, and date of publication, so someone else can find that source again.


Using Quotation Marks

If you use someone else’s exact words, you need to put those words in quotation marks. Changing a few words here and there is not enough to avoid plagiarism. Either put the exact phrase you are quoting in quotation marks, or rewrite it entirely in your own words.

Quoting extensively from another source, even if you do it properly, is not appropriate for a research paper. Use quotations to support your arguments or clarify important points, but create your own argument using your own words.



In a paraphrase, you rewrite what someone else has said in your own way. Just as you have a personality that is different from everyone else’s, you as a writer have your own voice and style. When you write, even when you are paraphrasing, your writing should sound like it came from you, not from someone else.


  • Copying sentences, phrases or paragraphs exactly as they appear in the original source
  • Copying sentences and putting them in a different order
  • Copying sentences and replacing a few words with synonyms
  • Copying sentences and adding a few of your own


  • Re-stating the author's idea in your own words, using your own voice

Continue for examples of correct and incorrect ways of using information.