Quotations and Paraphrases
When you use a source, you must choose between either
quoting the exact words of the source or composing a paraphrase. If you want to use the exact words of the
source, you must enclose them in quotation marks and they must accurately reproduce
the original. If you want to express an
idea or information found in a source without quoting, you must
paraphrase. “Paraphrase” means rewrite
entirely in your own words and style, using none of the words, sequence of
thoughts, sentence or paragraph arrangement, or other features of the
original. A paraphrase must be entirely
different from the original.
When you quote, you must enclose material taken from
a source in quotation marks: “words taken from the source.” If the quotation is
more than three lines, it should be block indented and single spaced, without
quotation marks. Long quotations should however generally be avoided unless
necessary in a particular case. All quotations must be exact, except that you
may interpolate words enclosed in square brackets ("[ ]"), excise
words by replacing them with ellipsis ("..."), and underline or
italicize for emphasis by adding in square brackets “emphasis supplied” or
delete the author’s underlining or italicization by adding in square brackets
“emphasis deleted.” You may, and should,
also add in square brackets the italicized Latin word sic if the
original contains an error in spelling or grammar or a stylistic solecism
(although if you call attention to bad style, you’re ordinarily being deliberately
rude). None of these variations may contradict the meaning of the original.
Commonplace literary allusions do not require quotation marks and do not
constitute plagiarism: under the slings and arrows of outrageous term paper
assignments you may freely visit the sins of the professor upon the teaching
assistants, without quoting either Shakespeare or the Bible.
When you paraphrase, you must entirely reword
material taken from a source, without using quotation marks. You may use the
source’s words as long as you do not use more than two in a row from any
passage. Sometimes you will hear a
higher limit such as seven or thirteen words, but if you never use more than
two words in a row you will always avoid violating any higher limit. Common sense applies here. If you are writing
about the war on terrorism, you may freely mention President Bush, Osama Bin Laden, al Qaeda,
Baghdad, 9/11, Iraq, neo-conservatives, Noam Chomsky,
Afghanistan, radical Islam, homeland security, and other names or terms without
quotation marks even when the source uses the same names and terms. But you
must avoid replicating the style, order of presentation, and other wording of
There is good reason to require you to paraphrase:
anybody can copy without understanding.
In order to copy from the original, even when quoting, you need not
understand the meaning of the original.
We don’t ask you to write essays in order to find out what your readings
say; although we sometimes learn from your spotting passages that we have not
noticed, we ask you to write essays in order to give you, not us, the
opportunity to learn. If you just copy,
neither you nor we acquire any evidence that you have learned. Don’t be afraid that your paraphrase
expresses a slightly different thought than the original. Whenever you reword, you change the idea at
least slightly. That is fine. The original doesn’t have any single exact meaning
that you can reproduce precisely. Writing
is horseshoes; close counts.
Inadequate paraphrases are a form of
plagiarism. UCLA takes the position that
a student has not committed deliberate plagiarism when the student produces an
inadequate paraphrase but accompanies it with a citation. There is a sound rationale to this UCLA
policy, even if I would prefer a different and much stricter one. Quite often inadequate paraphrases appear in
papers submitted by good students. In
fact no one can copy from a book without reading the book, and the presence of
an inadequate paraphrase is evidence that the student has tried. We don’t want to punish you for trying. But an inadequate paraphrase is not evidence
that the student has learned – quite the contrary.
In your papers, do not copy. Not copying is one way
a UCLA student can convince everyone that he or she did not just fall off the
truck on the way to that crosstown campus. Show a little Bruin pride!