What’s the Symbol for Paraphrasing?

It’s good to paraphrase quotations to save space or make your writing clearer. However, do you know the appropriate symbols to use for paraphrasing?

If not, this article is here to help. We’ve explained all you need to know before paraphrasing quotations in an essay.

What’s the Symbol for Paraphrasing?

You should use square brackets [] to paraphrase quotes. You can add your own information inside the brackets in both APA and MLA Styles. For instance, “the war [they said] was over.” You can omit information entirely with ellipsis within brackets. For instance, “the time […] is now.”

Here are some examples to show you how it works:

  • We did not think about it [though it was better to do so], and now we pay the price.
  • I could not tell […] who was right.

As you can see, square brackets make paraphrasing very clear. It helps an essay reader to understand that you’re changing something about the quotation.

If you edit a quote, you must indicate that. You cannot simply add your own additions without making them clear.

Keep reading to learn more about how to paraphrase appropriately. We’ve explored different styles to help you.

APA Style

APA Style is one of the most common English writing styles. It’s very common to use it in academic writing, so you should follow the guidelines for paraphrasing.

According to APA Style, you can paraphrase with square brackets. You should also include “-ed” (short for “editor”) to show that you have edited the quote.

For example:

  • We thought [long and hard – ed] about changing the way we do things.
  • They watched as he [ran the mile – ed] because they did not want to get involved.

You should include the “-ed” abbreviation in the square brackets. It helps the reader understand that you have added information.

MLA Style

MLA Style is another common English writing style. The rules are very similar to APA Style, though they have a few more things to remember.

According to MLA Style, you can add information with square brackets. You can use the “-ed” abbreviation as well.

For example:

  • To be able to win [albeit unable to be the best -ed], he had to make a few sacrifices.

However, if you want to omit information, you must include an ellipsis within square brackets. That way, it’s very clear that you’ve removed something from the original quote.

For instance:

  • I did not control […] the changes.


You should paraphrase quotations with square brackets. Most style guides (such as APA and MLA Style) suggest using square brackets because they are clear to the reader.

It’s also worth including an abbreviation like “-ed” in the brackets to show that you (as the editor) have changed something. If you have removed information, you should include an ellipsis within the brackets.