How to Paraphrase a Quote

Learn to properly restate quotes and passages while preserving the original meaning.

By: Rachel Meltzer, Published on: 2024-02-04 , Last Updated: 04-02-24

Reviewed by: Kaitlyn Arford

Table of Contents

Ever read a quote and thought, "What does that even mean?" No worries, happens to all of us! Paraphrasing is like a superpower for understanding those difficult quotes. It's like explaining the quote in easier words, like making it more casual.

Why bother with paraphrasing? Well, it's like having a friendly chat with the person who said the quote. You're using your own words to express what they meant. It's like making those wise words feel like they're yours. In this guide, we'll go through paraphrasing step by step, learning the tricks to make confusing quotes easy to get. So, read on to see our step-by-step guide outlining how to paraphrase a quote correctly.

When to use a Quote?

Use quotes when the author's exact words are important. For example:

  1. If the author created a new theory, method, concept, or definition. Show their original wording.
  2. If rephrasing would change the meaning or make it hard to understand. Quote to capture their precise intent.
  3. When the author is an expert. Using their words adds authority and credibility.
  4. When asked to give textual evidence or back up your analysis of a book or poem. Quote relevant passages.
  5. Only use the most relevant phrases and sentences. Don't overquote! Frame the quote by explaining why it supports your point. Analyze what it means. All quotes need page numbers in their citations.

How to Properly Cite Short and Long Quotations?

For a short quote - usually 2 or 3 lines or less - you put quotation marks around the quoted words and include them within your own sentence. For example: The author stated that "the necessary words" should be quoted.

For a long quote - usually 4 lines or more - you indent the whole quoted passage and set it apart as a block without quotation marks.

So in short quotes, use quotation marks. In long quotes, indent the quote as a block. But check the specific citation style you are using for their exact rules on formatting.

When should you Rephrase a Quote?

You should paraphrase when:

  • The quote is very long. Paraphrasing makes it shorter and easier to understand.
  • The quote has confusing, technical, or outdated language. Putting it into your own words makes the meaning clear.
  • You only need the general idea - not the author's exact words. Paraphrasing lets you just capture the main points.

Paraphrase a Quote in 5 steps 

1. Understand the Quote

Read the quote carefully to understand its meaning. Make sure you fully understand the message the original author is trying to convey.

2. Rephrase Quote in Your Own Words

Rewrite the quote using your own words. Focus on expressing the core idea without using the exact wording of the original. This step is about using simpler language to convey the same meaning.

3. Keep the Same Message

Ensure that the essence of the original quote is retained. Your paraphrased version should convey the same information and maintain the integrity of the original idea.

4. Check for Structure Changes

Review your paraphrased version to ensure that the structure and flow of the sentence or passage make sense. Adjust as needed to maintain clarity.

5. Cite the Source

Always give credit to the original author by citing the source of the original quote as it avoids plagiarism. Even though you've put it in your own words, acknowledging the source is essential for academic and ethical reasons.

3 Benefits of Rewriting a Quote 

1. Better Understanding

When you rewrite a quote in your own words, you understand it better. It makes you think about the meaning and helps you remember the main ideas.

2. No Copying, No Trouble

Paraphrasing keeps you out of trouble with copying. It lets you use information in your own way, so you don't accidentally copy someone else's work. This is important in school or at work.

3. Fit for Your Readers

Changing words in a quote helps you talk to your readers or listeners in a way they understand. It lets you share the same information but in a style that works better for the people you are talking to.

Additional Guide to Quote Effectively 

Here's a simpler explanation of the additional guide to quoting effectively in three steps:

  • Ellipses

When you want to leave out some words from a quote, you can use three dots, like this: ... It shows that you didn't include everything, but it keeps the meaning.

  • Box It In [Square Brackets]

If you need to add your own words to a quote to make it make sense, use square brackets []. It's like putting your words in a little box inside the quote.

  • Watch out for Mistakes

Be careful not to make any mistakes when quoting. If you realize there's a mistake in the original quote, don't copy it wrong. Instead, you can use square brackets to show you fixed it, but always be honest and clear about any changes you make.

To Wrap Up 

When you paraphrase a quote, you need to make sure you don't hurt the original author or damage their reputation. First, understand what the quote means. Then rewrite it in a way that makes sense for your reader while keeping the original meaning. It's best to avoid quoting statements that sound like absolute facts or make overly confident claims.

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. How do you analyze a quote?

Consider context, speaker, and message. Assess tone, relevance, and how it supports or challenges your argument.

2. How do you paraphrase a quote correctly?

Reword while maintaining meaning. Use synonyms, restructure, and always cite the source.

3. Do I need to cite a famous quote?

Yes, always cite to give credit and avoid plagiarism, even for well-known phrases.

4. What is the correct way to cite a quote?

Use proper citation style (APA, MLA). Include author, year, and page for in-text citations. In the bibliography, provide detailed source information.

5. How do you end a quote?

End a quote with the appropriate punctuation, typically a comma or a period, depending on the context