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FADA - Visual Arts: Referencing

This guide contains essential information sources for visual art and advice on information searching to support study and research

What is Referencing?

It is a way to demonstrate that you have extended your learning.

Two reasons for referencing:

  • To give credit to or acknowledge the sources you have used in your text 
  • To let the reader know whose ideas you are using
  • To enable your reader to check your information

How to reference a Book:


The impulse for utopia often springs from history (Knight 1997:13).


Knight, D. 1997. Barthes and utopia: space, travel, writing. Oxford: Clarendon. 




Harvard Interactive Quick Reference Guide

You can use this Harvard quick reference guide to link directly to the source you want to reference.

What is Plagiarism?

According to the UJ Plagiarism Policy (2013:06) “Plagiarism is the act of representing the ideas, writings, works or inventions of others as the fruits of one’s own original intellectual endeavors without adequately acknowledging the author or source”.  Plagiarism is a serious offence and you should familiarise yourself with the University of Johannesburg and FADA’s plagiarism policies and procedures. If you are unsure whether you are committing plagiarism, consult a lecturer before handing in your assignment.

STEP 3: Video on plagiarism

The Do's and Don'ts of Paraphrasing


  1. The first step in paraphrasing is to read the original text and get a full grasp of it. You may need to read the original text a few times and check the meaning of key words to fully understand it.
  2. While you are reading, think about the overall meaning of each paragraph or section - don’t just focus on the individual words and sentences.
  3. After each paragraph or section, put the reading aside and state it in your own words.
  4. When you can do this, you are ready to write your paraphrase.
  5. Finally, proofread, revise and edit your paraphrase as necessary.


  1. Don’t paraphrase without really reading and understanding the source. This is a dealbreaker. You can’t paraphrase an idea that you don’t fully understand. You’ll need to read carefully, and you might need to read the source several times.  
  2. Don’t look at the original as you try to paraphrase. Focus on capturing the idea, not the sentences. Imagine you’re explaining it to a friend. 
  3. Don’t change the meaning of ideas or take them out of context. If the authors crept up behind you and read your paraphrase, would they think it was accurate?
  4. Don’t change only a few words here and there. Copy no more than 3-4 words in a row (except for technical terms that can’t be paraphrased.
    Make sure you have copied no more than 20% of the original language).
  5. Remember, in a paraphrase, you’ve got to change the structure of the original and as many of the words as possible.

(University of Guelph, 2021)

What is Paraphrasing?


Paraphrasing means ‘to state something written or spoken in different words, especially in a shorter and simpler form to make the meaning clearer’ (Cambridge Online Dictionary, 2022). 

Paraphrasing is 'a restating of someone else’s thoughts or ideas in your own words. You must always cite your source when paraphrasing’ (Pears & Shields, 2019 p. 245).


According to Jerman (2021), some good reasons to paraphrase include:

  1. To further explain or simplify a passage that may be difficult to understand. By showing your reader that you understand the idea, paraphrasing not only clarifies the idea in the passage but also illustrates that you, since you can articulate this difficult message to the reader, are knowledgeable about the topic and should be trusted.
  2. To maintain the flow of the writing. Each author has a unique voice and using direct quotes can interrupt this voice. Too many quotes can make an essay sound choppy and difficult to follow. Paraphrasing can help communicate an important idea in a passage or source without interrupting the flow of the essay. 
  3. To eliminate less relevant information. Since paraphrasing is written using the author’s own words, he or she can be more selective in what information from a passage should be included or omitted.
  4. To avoid plagiarism. Always remember to include an in-text citation and a full reference at the end of the essay for the paraphrased text. 

Paraphrasing - examples


This is an example of poor paraphrasing from Western Libraries (2021). 

  • This is plagiarism - some words have been changed but the paraphrased text too closely resembles the original.
  • The author has not been acknowledged (no in-text citation is provided). 

Paraphrasing - examples

This example, from Hull Library (2019) illustrates how a poor paraphrase can become a perfect one.

  • The first student's attempt at paraphrasing results in plagiarism.
    • The words are too similar to the original text.
    • The author has not been acknowledged.
  • The second student achieves the perfect paraphrase.
    • The paraphrased text is significantly different from the original, yet the original meaning is retained.
    • The main ideas are expressed in the student's own words in a clear and simple style.
    • The author has been acknowledged (an in-text citation is provided).