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Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

Quoting

What It Means

To quote a piece of evidence means to use the same words in the same order, using a copy and paste feature in your assignment. Usually, a quotation is used for a single sentence or a limited number of sentences. If you want to quote more than this, do not quote it all at once. Make sure you group the information into a couple of sentences at a time and include your own critical thinking between the quoted sentences.

When To Use It

There are a few times when quoting is the most appropriate action:

  1. The information uses a lot of terminology which would be awkward or impossible to change.

  2. The information is presented in a concise manner, and creating a paraphrase would make the information wordy.

  3. It is important to show that the author's words have authority over the topic.

How To Use It

To quote, make sure you include quotation marks around the exact words you took from the source. The final step to a quotation is including a citation with the author, year, and page or paragraph number.

Paraphrasing

What It Means

To paraphrase a piece of evidence means to write the author's idea using your own words and sentence structure. A paraphrase is used to restate a single sentence or a limited number of sentences together.

When To Use It

There are a few times when paraphrasing is the most appropriate action:

  1. The idea of the sentence or group of sentences is important but not necessarily the exact way it is written.

  2. About 80-90% of the words in the sentence can be described in different words that would fit the tone and style of your paper better.

  3. It is important to show that you understand the material and can convey the idea in your own words.

How To Use It

To paraphrase, you must change the words, but you can keep specific terminology or words that cannot be changed. The next step is to change the structure of the sentence; for example, the information that appears at the beginning of the original sentence could appear at the end of your newly created sentence. The final step to a paraphrase is including a citation with the author, year, and page or paragraph number. Keep in mind that a paraphrase is usually the same length as the original sentence or a little longer.

Summarizing

What It Means

To summarize a source means to describe the general meaning of the entire text or source. Unlike a quotation or a paraphrase which look at a specific piece of evidence within a larger source, a summary looks at the source as a whole.  For example, a paraphrase might describe a key idea from one sentence within a book, but a summary would describe the general idea of the whole book.

When To Use It

There are a couple of times when summarizing is the most appropriate action:

  1. You do not want to focus on specific examples in the source.

  2. You want to write a sentence or limited number of sentences that explain the general information of the source.

How To Use It

To summarize, you must use your own words.  Rather than including exact examples or specific pieces of evidence, make sure you provide the reader with the main idea of the source, the key arguments or points, and any findings or conclusions.  Be sure to include the title of the source, author, and year in the first or second sentence of the summary.  If you do include any specific pieces of evidence, you must provide a full citation (author, year, page or paragraph number). Keep in mind that a summary is shorter than the original source.

Key Elements at a Glance

The following table provides the key elements to quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing which will help you determine when to use which action.

​Quoting ​Paraphrasing ​Summarizing
​direct words ​your words, your sentence structure ​your words, your sentence structure
​exact word count ​same length or longer ​shorter length than the original
​quotation marks plus citation: author, year, page/paragraph number ​citation: author, year, page/paragraph number ​citation: title, author, year in the first or second sentence
​to show authority over the topic ​to show comprehension of the material ​to sum up main idea or key points of the text

Other Resources

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