Q. How do you cite an entire paragraph that is a paraphrase not a quote? How do I know if it is too long?
Paraphrasing is when you sum up the main idea(s) of the article's argument using your own words and your own sentence structure.
Quotations are useful if the idea needs more nuance or if it will be more than a couple of sentences of content.
*See the Citing Sources in the Text (In-Text Citations) 6th edition on the APA Help guide for how to put sources (quotations or paraphrase) in your paper.*
However you add sources to your paper, you need to make it very clear which words are your ideas and which words are someone else's. The best way to do this is to use your sentence structure to signal that this is from someone else AND include the citation information.
EXAMPLES: Let's say that you want to paraphrase the article "How to write a great paper" by John Smith (2010).
You would say in your essay:
- According to John Smith's ideas of paper writing in his essay, "How to write a great paper", he discusses that writing a great paper is all about choosing a great topic, knowing a lot about your topic and then being able to synthesize the information you learned about your topic (Smith, 2010). Smith also has some more cool ideas that I am going to mention now (Smith, 2010). And this other cool idea is also something that I read about in the article (Smith, 2010). Then when you are done, you will want to put the citation at the end of the section you are paraphrasing (Smith, 2010). ***Yes, you have to put (Smith, 2010) after EVERY sentence that is part of your paraphrase, you cannot just put one at the end of your paragraph--that is plagarism. Please read this article for an additional breakdown of why.
But ideally, you would not need to have an entire paragraph that is a paraphrase of someone's ideas. Ideally, you would be interspersing your ideas with John Smith's ideas to show how each of his ideas is important and relevant to your paper.
Ideally, your paper would look more like this:
- According to John Smith's ideas of paper writing in his essay, "How to write a great paper", he discusses that writing a great paper is all about choosing a great topic, knowing your topic well, and being able to synthesize research about your topic (Smith, 2010). These points are important because (insert your own opinion about why this stuff is important.) Smith also thinks that X is a useful skill to have when working on A, B, and C (Smith, 2010). This is clearly true because (here is what I think about this issue).
In this way, you are still paraphrasing Smith in a paragraph, but you are also letting your reader know which parts are Smith's ideas and which parts are your ideas, and most importantly why you think Smith is useful for your argument.
- In APA, after every sentence that is not your idea, you put a citation in parentheses such as: Paraphrase: (Last Name, Year) or Quotation: (Last Name, Year, p. Page Number) of the source where you got that information.