As an editor, I’ve seen everything from the blatant stealing of someone else’s work (seriously—this “author” had cut and pasted pieces of published articles from the internet and put them together in a book as his own work) to completely unintentional infringement (where the writer acknowledged that the words were part of a quote through the use of quotation marks but didn’t cite the author, book title, or anything else to tell where the quote had come from).

The thing is, no matter whether it’s intentional or not, plagiarism is still plagiarism. And it isn’t just ethically wrong; it can also lead to legal issues.

With that in mind, take a look at an article by LegalZoom to help you know exactly what constitutes plagiarism—and why you should care:

If you use another person’s work and do not attribute that work to the author, including copying text verbatim, paraphrasing a phrase or summarizing an idea, you are essentially committing plagiarism. Plagiarism usually occurs when a writer fails to:

* cite quotes or ideas written by another author;
* enclose direct text in quotes; or
* put summaries and/or paraphrases in the his or her own words.