This handout is intended to help you become more comfortable with the uses of and distinctions among quotations, paraphrases, and summaries. This handout compares and contrasts the three terms, gives some pointers, and includes a short excerpt that you can use to practice these skills.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES AMONG QUOTING, PARAPHRASING, AND SUMMARIZING?
These three ways of incorporating other writers’ work into your own writing differ according to the closeness of your writing to the source writing.
Quotations must be identical to the original, using a narrow segment of the source. They must match the source document word for word and must be attributed to the original author.
Paraphrasing involves putting a passage from source material into your own words. A paraphrase must also be attributed to the original source. Paraphrased material is usually shorter than the original passage, taking a somewhat broader segment of the source and condensing it slightly.
Summarizing involves putting the main idea(s) into your own words, including only the main point(s). Once again, it is necessary to attribute summarized ideas to the original source. Summaries are significantly shorter than the original and take a broad overview of the source material.
WHY USE QUOTATIONS, PARAPHRASES, AND SUMMARIES?
Quotations, paraphrases, and summaries serve many purposes. You might use them to:
Provide support for claims or add credibility to your writing
Refer to work that leads up to the work you are now doing
Give examples of several points of view on a subject
Call attention to a position that you wish to agree or disagree with
Highlight a particularly striking phrase, sentence, or passage by quoting the original
Distance yourself from the original by quoting it in order to cue readers that the words are not your own
Expand the breadth or depth of your writing
Writers frequently intertwine summaries, paraphrases, and quotations. As part of a summary of an article, a chapter, or a book, a writer might include paraphrases of various key points blended with quotations of striking or suggestive phrases as in the following example: