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When paraphrasing, do I use one citation at the end of a multiple sentence paragraph, or do I have to cite every sentence?

Last Updated: May 02, 2017  |  3963 Views
Topics: APA

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Thank you for your question about APA and paraphrasing.

While it may seem weird to put a citation after every sentence in a paraphrase (and harder to read), technically APA style requires that:

  • You make clear exactly what content you got from someone else's ideas or words.
  • You show what are your own words and ideas.
  • It is clear where someone else's writing voice stops.
  • You show where your writing begins.
  • Therefore, putting one citation at the end of a paragraph paraphrase is NOT APA compliant.

How to do it correctly: Write sentences with signal phrases and refer back as necessary to direct your reader.

*Examples for "incorrect", "not pretty, but correct", and "better" to follow.*

Incorrect. This paragraph only has a citation at the end and doesn't help the reader with signal phrases. The reader does not know who is responsible for what content. Do not do this, it is wrong:

College can be both really hard and really rewarding. Over half of college students in the United States will admit to feeling scared or like they cannot possibly graduate. This is a normal feeling when put in a new situation with high expectations. College can be a risk; student loans are expensive and jobs after college can be hard to come by. Additionally, recent college grads cannot file for bankruptcy with student loans, so financial planning is a must. Students should take advantage of their college's financial and career services departments because following a lifelong dream or creating better opportunities for your future are worth some risk and hard work (Betts, 2015).

Not pretty, but correct: This paragraph is technically correct since the reader can see exactly whose ideas are represented. But it can be hard to read and it is awkward. 

College can be both really hard and really rewarding. Over half of college students in the United States will admit to feeling scared or like they cannot possibly graduate (Betts, 2015). This is a normal feeling when put in a new situation with high expectations. College can be a risk; student loans are expensive and jobs after college can be hard to come by (Betts, 2015). Additionally, recent college grads cannot file for bankruptcy with student loans, so financial planning is a must (Betts, 2015). Students should take advantage of their college's financial and career services departments because following a lifelong dream or creating better opportunities for your future are worth some risk and hard work.

Better: These two paragraphs (one paraphrase and one with quotations) are both correct by APA standards and easy for the reader. 

Example 1--paraphrase:

College can be both really hard and really rewarding. According to a survey by Betts (2015), over half of college students in the United States will admit to feeling scared or like they cannot possibly graduate. The survey found that students are concerned about the risks involved in attending college, the high cost, and if they will get a job after graduation. In particular, some of the students were concerned with their financial planning ability as student loans cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy (Betts, 2015). Students should take advantage of their college's financial and career services departments because following a lifelong dream or creating better opportunities for your future are worth some risk and hard work.

Example 2--quotation:

College can be both really hard and really rewarding. According to a survey by Betts (2015), "72% of college students in the United States are worried about graduating from college as well as the financial risks involved with attending an institution of higher education" (p. 2). Students are concerned about the high cost of college and if they will get a job after graduation. In particular some of the students were concerned with their "lack of financial savvy and were surprised to learn that student loans cannot be included as part of a bankruptcy" (Betts, 2015, p. 7). Students should take advantage of their college's financial and career services departments because following a lifelong dream or creating better opportunities for your future are worth some risk and hard work.

For more resources on APA citations, check our the APA Help guide or contact your Campus Library/ARC.

Answered by Tessa BettsBookmark and Share

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