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Section: How to use citations?

How do I use citations in my writing?

Direct Quotations

When using direct quotations in your paper you are actually quoting an author's text word for word. It is advisable that you do not use long quotations in your paper and use quotations selectively. There are several ways that you can use quotations in your paper depending on the citation style that you are using.

Certain citation styles require you to provide the author's name, date and page numbers when quoting passages. However, with web resources it is difficult to provide page numbers and in some cases the author could be an organization rather than a person/individual. In this case you can give the web site's address in parenthesis if you are referring to an entire website rather than to a specific source found on the site.

Below is an example of a quoted passage from the Canadian Health Network website on marijuana use using the APA style:

On the Canadian Health Network, Gary Roberts states that "People usually develop problems with marijuana use as a result of a combination of personal, family and school-related factors. These factors may include mental health issues, a troubled home and family environment, or weak performance in school. Daily use of marijuana is a strong indicator of potential problems." (

Here is an example of a reference entry for the above citation:

Roberts, G. (2003). Marijuana, is it safe? Retrieved August 09, 2006 from


When you are paraphrasing you are actually restating the author's ideas in your own words and thus you do not need to use quotation marks for a paraphrase. Although you are using your own words to paraphrase an author's ideas be careful not to add your own opinion or distort the original passage and you still need to cite the source in your text and in your list of references.

It is easy to fall into the plagiarism trap when you are paraphrasing and whether it is intentional or unintentional, plagiarism is a serious offence.

Here is an example of a passage that has been paraphrased without acknowledgement:

Original version:

Students frequently overuse direct quotation in taking notes, and as a result they overuse quotations in the final [research] paper. Probably only about 10% of your final manuscript should appear as directly quoted matter. Therefore, you should strive to limit the amount of exact transcribing of source materials while taking notes. Lester, James D. Writing Research Papers. 2nd ed. (1976): 46-47.

Plagiarized version:

Students often use too many direct quotations when they take notes, resulting in too many of them in the final research paper. In fact, probably only about 10% of the final copy should consist of directly quoted material. So it is important to limit the amount of source material copied while taking notes.

Acceptable version:

In research papers students often quote excessively, failing to keep quoted material down to a desirable level. Since the problem usually originates during note taking, it is essential to minimize the material recorded verbatim (Lester 46-47).

Sources cited (MLA style):

Purdue University. Paraphrase: write it in your own words. 27 June 2006 <>

Trimmer, Joseph F. A guide to MLA Documentation. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006


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