MLA Tutorial


















Lesson 20: Plagiarism

Plagiarism is stealing someone else’s words. To avoid plagiarism, you must—at the very least—do one of the following things whenever you incorporate someone else’s words in your writing:

  1. Put the words within quotation marks.
  2. Format the words as a block quote.

If you use someone else’s words and you don’t do one of those things—you are guilty of plagiarism.

Of course, you should also use introduce the quote with a signal phrase, as well as cite the source by adding a parenthetical citation. But forgetting to signal or cite a source is a far lesser crime than failing to indicate—through the use of quotation marks or block formatting—that the words on your paper are someone else’s words and not your own.

Lastly, please do not make the mistake of believing that all you have to do is “change a few words”. If I stole your research paper, changed a few words, then submitted it as my own—would you find that acceptable? I don’t think so.

Check Your Understanding:

  1. What is plagiarism?
  2. When incorporating the words of someone else into your own paper, what are the two ways—the only two ways—that you can avoid plagiarism?
  3. Is changing a few words enough to avoid a charge of plagiarism?

Quiz: MLA 20