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quoting and paraphrasing activity

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  • Informational Texts
  • Literacy Anchor Charts
  • Reading Skills

Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting Texts

By Mary Montero

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quoting and paraphrasing activity

We are SO close to being done with our nonfiction unit, and I’m looking forward to jumping back in to novel studies. My students are slowly growing to love (okay, maybe like is still a better word) informational text, and that was truly one of my main goals in all of this.

Last week, we did a brief review of the difference between summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting texts.  I should have done this a long time ago!  I often see it taught in the context of research, but when I started seeing summaries that used direct quotes or lines from the text, I knew it was time.  It’s also a huge skill for 5th graders to be able to paraphrase well, so I decided it was worth taking the time to do.   Oh, and the fact that standardized testing is coming in less than month was excellent incentive as well.

First, I used an idea that I got from Teaching in Room 6  about summarizing nonfiction texts with comic strips.  I LOVED this idea, and you should really read her original post.  She does a great job of explaining it, and her kids actually used the Comic Creator software to make really neat and authentic-looking comics!


I began by having my students select a book from our library focusing on an event in history.  They had to really focus in on one event that only spanned the course of about a day.  So, if they chose a major war, they had to pick one battle.

Then, they wrote summaries of their events.  Next, I had them transfer their summaries into comics.  They had to use text and dialogue to tell the story and include all of the information their summary had (without just rewriting, of course).

photo1 2

They came out so nice, and they all agreed that it was such a fun way to practice summarizing!

Update: I now have an entire post on teaching summarizing!  Click here to read more about summarizing, too.

Then, we made a foldable and anchor chart to review the differences between paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting.  Most of the students knew what quoting was but had forgotten how to do it with integrity (using quotation marks and referencing the author).


I included a definition of each then some key ideas about each.

Update: Here’s another version, and you can download the template to make your own HERE .  The notebook template is also included in this free file.

quoting and paraphrasing activity

They copied the key ideas on the top flap of their foldable.  Then I created some summarizing task cards to help them see the difference between the three different types of rewriting and retelling.


I made a copy of the first card for each student and they glued it on the same page as their foldable. Under each section of the foldable, they did the task under the flap so that they could see the different between paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting using the same text.  We also underlined and color-coded their responses from the text.  This week, they are working on one card per day as part of their reading warm up.  So far, they have been incredibly effective, and I know it will make a difference in their written reading responses. It will also be great to have this under their belt for research in the future.

quoting and paraphrasing activity

If you are interested in the summarizing task cards, you can buy them HERE .  They also include a digital option to use with your student devices!

quoting and paraphrasing activity

Working on just one skill at a time? This summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting BUNDLE is a good starting place when working with shorter paragraphs. Each of these task card sets includes 32 high-interest nonfiction reading passages and a single prompt to summarize, paraphrase, or make a direct quote.

NEW Paraphrase Quote Summarize Task CardsIMG 1210 7150695 7150646 7150641 7150664

Have a happy week!

Mary Montero

I’m so glad you are here. I’m a current gifted and talented teacher in a small town in Colorado, and I’ve been in education since 2009. My passion (other than my family and cookies) is for making teachers’ lives easier and classrooms more engaging.

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I absolutely love all your products! This is such a great idea for getting students to really pick up on the differences between all three! I'm going to have to look into this for next year, but this year it may make a great RTI or reteaching lesson for some of my kiddos that still need help!

We're getting ready to use your Text Structures task cards right now to reteach text structures in small groups!

Thanks for sharing and producing such great products/ideas! Amanda My Shoe String Life

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  • NWTC Library

Citation Guide

  • Quoting and Paraphrasing
  • APA Formatting Tips
  • Citation Books in the Library
  • Citation Formatting in Word & Google Docs

Quoting and Paraphrasing Resources

How to use quotations in writing essays-apa or mla (youtube video), avoid plagiarism in research papers with paraphrases & quotations (youtube video).

  • Citation Managers
  • Acknowledging, Paraphrasing, and Quoting Sources PDF version Maintained by UW-Madison Writing Center.
  • Paraphrasing Tips (Excelsior College OWL) Includes a Paraphrasing Activity
  • Using Quotations (Excelsior College OWL) Linked blog post Quote Those Quotes

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5 Using Paraphrases & Quotations

Often, when you are writing a college essay, you will want to include other people’s ideas and research. This is a good way to enter the scholarly conversation about your topic, and to demonstrate your credibility as an author, because it shows that you have read and considered other experts’ ideas. Your audience will be able to see that you understand what has already been said about the topic, before you contribute your new ideas. In addition to summarizing (as discussed in a previous chapter), there are two other ways to incorporate other people’s ideas: by writing a paraphrase, or by using a direct quotation.

In general, paraphrasing means using your own words to express another person’s idea. When writers talk about using “a paraphrase,” they mean something a bit more specific: a paraphrase is a re-statement of another person’s idea, using your own words, and  in about the same length as the original. Note that successful paraphrasing is not the same thing as “patchwriting,” which happens when you  just change a couple of words or re-arrange a few words. You want to avoid patchwriting and use paraphrases instead, to preserve academic integrity and avoid plagiarism.

Quoting means using the exact words of another person in your work. When you use quotations, you must always use quotation marks (“….”) to show that these words belong to someone else.  When you write a paraphrase or use a quotation, you must include citations to stay honest with your academic work. After we practice paraphrasing and quoting, we will work on citations in the next chapter.

Paraphrases & Quotations

In general, it is preferable to use paraphrases rather than long quotations in a short academic essay. Using a paraphrase demonstrates that you understand the original author’s ideas thoroughly; using quotations can make it seem like you are just “dropping in” a quote that seems related into your paper. Sometimes, however, a quotation is preferable, as when the original author captures an idea so perfectly that their exact words are an important part of the message. Other times, it may be that the original quotation is full of discipline-specific jargon , and needs to be quoted as is. The next two sections will discuss both strategies so that you can choose which is better for your audience, purpose, and context.

Using Paraphrases

Paraphrasing well is very useful, but paraphrasing can be a difficult skill to master. It takes a great deal of practice to paraphrase academic material well, and even more practice to paraphrase well in a second language. You need to have excellent command of sentence structure and vocabulary in order to be an expert at paraphrasing. Working on this skill will help you to develop other language skills as well. The more you practice, the better you will be at paraphrasing. And remember: always include information about where you got the information you are paraphrasing in an in-text citation. That way, your readers can find the original author’s work to read, if they are interested in learning more.

Once you have found a piece of writing – perhaps a sentence or two – that you would like to paraphrase, what do you do? Allow yourself time to follow the steps below.

Steps for Paraphrasing Successfully

  • Read and annotate the original piece. Take notes on the author’s main ideas in your own words.
  • Put the original aside. Go for a walk, stretch, take a nap.
  • Re-read the original piece and look at your notes. Did you miss any main ideas?
  • Find a friend, or use your phone or computer to record yourself. Using your notes, talk about the author’s main ideas.
  • Write a first draft of a paraphrase. Your paraphrase should be about the same length as the original. If you get stuck, try using the paraphrasing strategies below. Think of this as an English-to-English translation of the author’s ideas.  Remember to include information about your source (title, author) so that you remember where you found the original work.
  • Re-read the original piece, and your paraphrase. Did you miss any main ideas? Did you remember to indicate whose original ideas these are (the in-text citation)? Remember to include only the author’s ideas here; do not add your own opinion or analysis.
  • Revise your paraphrase as necessary. Make sure it sounds like something YOU have written – not the original author.

In an essay, you will also need to connect your paraphrase to your own ideas, and explain why you are using the author’s ideas. Often, writers will start by paraphrasing another author’s work, and then writing a response to it to express their own opinions and ideas.

As you practice writing paraphrases, it might be helpful to use a bilingual dictionary, an English-to-English dictionary, a translator, and/or a thesaurus. Ask your instructors about their policies for using these resources.

Paraphrasing Strategies

  • use synonyms (unique -> uncommon)
  • use antonyms (unique -> not ordinary)
  • change word forms (unique individual -> individual’s uniqueness)
  • switch active voice to passive voice (They made mistakes. -> Mistakes were made.)
  • switch passive voice to active voice (Lunch was served. -> They served lunch.)
  • use different conjunctions (but -> however)
  • change sentence structure (simple to compound, compound to complex, compound to two simple sentences, etc.)

Note : You will want to use these strategies in combination to achieve the most successful paraphrases.

Activity ~ Paraphrasing Practice

Here is a brief passage from Sarah Boxer’s article in The Atlantic, “ An Artist for the Instagram Age ”:

“The fact that some folks have managed to make the scene while others get left out in the cold is integral to the excitement of participatory art. The thrill is akin to exotic travel, or getting to see Hamilton . Because not everyone who wants the experience actually gets the experience, these works, even if their intentions and messages are democratic, tend to become exclusive affairs.”

Which of the following is an appropriate paraphrase of this passage? (Focus on the paraphrases, not the incomplete in-text citation.) Why is that one better? Why is the other one less useful as a paraphrase? Discuss with your partner.

  • The truth that many people have been able to attend these events as others have been shut out of them is key to what makes this kind of art appealing. The excitement is similar to visiting foreign countries or attending a showing of a sold-out musical. Since some people who wish to attend can’t do so, these art forms, despite not necessarily wanting to, often end up denying access to many would-be attendees.
  • Boxer notes that this kind of art only maintains its appeal as long as there are more people clamoring to view it than can possibly actually view it. This reliance on scarcity means these artists are ultimately relying on elitist principles to find their success and remain in demand.

Using Quotations

Note : links open in new tabs.

Portions of this chapter were paraphrased from, and the Paraphrasing Practice Activity was from “Paraphrasing,” from The Word on College Reading and Writing by Carol Burnell, Jaime Wood, Monique Babin, Susan Pesznecker, and Nicole Rosevear, which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.


Note: links open in new tabs.

Works Cited

Bock, Kevin et al. “unCaptcha: A Low-Resource Defeat of reCaptcha’s Audio Challenge.” Usenix Workshop of Offensive Technologies (WOOT) 17.   August 2017. Vancouver, BC. Conference Presentation.

King, Martin Luther, Jr. “I Have a Dream.” March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. 28 August 1963. Washington, D.C. Speech.

United States Constitution . Preamble.

specialized vocabulary of a particular field, which may not be familiar to a general audience

necessary; very important

very popular American musical theater show

not open to everyone

infrequently; not often

ENGLISH 087: Academic Advanced Writing Copyright © 2020 by Nancy Hutchison is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Module 2: Using Sources

Quoting, paraphrasing, and avoiding plagiarism, how to summarize:  an overview, how to quote and paraphrase:  an overview, when to quote, when to paraphrase, four examples of quotes and paraphrases, how to avoid plagiarism in the research process, plagiarism and the internet.

  • Stay “neutral” in your summarizing.  Summaries provide “just the facts” and are not the place where you offer your opinions about the text you are summarizing.  Save your opinions and evaluation of the evidence you are summarizing for other parts of your writing.
  • Don’t quote from what you are summarizing.  Summaries will be more useful to you and your colleagues if you write them in your own words.
  • Don’t “cut and paste” from database abstracts.  Many of the periodical indexes that are available as part of your library’s computer system include abstracts of articles.  Do no “cut” this abstract material and then “paste” it into your own annotated bibliography.  For one thing, this is plagiarism.  Second, “cutting and pasting” from the abstract defeats one of the purposes of writing summaries and creating an annotated bibliography in the first place, which is to help you understand and explain your research.
  • be “introduced” to the reader, particularly the first time you mention a source;
  • include an explanation of the evidence which explains to the reader why you think the evidence is important, especially if it is not apparent from the context of the quote or paraphrase; and
  • include a proper citation of the source.
  • The exact words of your source are important for the point you are trying to make.  This is especially true if you are quoting technical language, terms, or very specific word choices.
  • You want to highlight your agreement with the author’s words .  If you agree with the point the author of the evidence makes and you like their exact words, use them as a quote.
  • You want to highlight your disagreement with the author’s words .  In other words, you may sometimes want to use a direct quote to indicate exactly what it is you disagree about.  This might be particularly true when you are considering the antithetical positions in your research writing projects.
  • There is no good reason to use a quote to refer to your evidence.  If the author’s exact words are not especially important to the point you are trying to make, you are usually better off paraphrasing the evidence.
  • You are trying to explain a particular a piece of evidence in order to explain or interpret it in more detail .  This might be particularly true in writing projects like critiques.
  • You need to balance a direct quote in your writing.  You need to be careful about directly quoting your research too much because it can sometimes make for awkward and difficult to read prose.  So, one of the reasons to use a paraphrase instead of a quote is to create balance within your writing.

Tips for Quoting and Paraphrasing

  • Introduce your quotes and paraphrases to your reader, especially on first reference.
  • Explain the significance of the quote or paraphrase to your reader.
  • Cite your quote or paraphrase properly according to the rules of style you are following in your essay.
  • Quote when the exact words are important, when you want to highlight your agreement or your disagreement.
  • Paraphrase when the exact words aren’t important, when you want to explain the point of your evidence, or when you need to balance the direct quotes in your writing.

Quoting in MLA Style

Paraphrasing in mla style, quoting in apa style, paraphrasing in apa style.

Lévy, Pierre.  Cyberculture.  Trans. Robert Bononno.  Minneapolis:  U of Minnesota P, 2001.

Always cite your sources.  If you are unsure as to whether you should or should not cite a particular claim or reference, you should probably cite your source.
  • Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Avoiding Plagiarism. Authored by : Steven D. Krause. Located at : . Project : The Process of Research Writing. License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

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3.4: Using Source Text: Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

Once you have a collection of credible sources as part of a formal secondary research project, such as a report, your next step is to build that report around those sources, using them as anchors of evidence around your own arguments. If you began with an hypothesis and you’re using the sources as evidence to support it, or if you realize that your hypothesis is wrong because all the credible sources you’ve found poked holes in it, you should at this point be able to draft a thesis—your whole point concisely expressed. From there, you can arrange your sources in an order that follows a logical sequence, such as general to specific or advantages versus disadvantages. We will examine organizational structures in the next chapter ( Ch. 4 ) on drafting, but we are now going to focus on how to incorporate source material into usable evidence.

You essentially have four ways of using source material available to you, three of them involving text and one, media:

  • Quoting text: copying the source’s exact words and marking them off with quotation marks
  • Paraphrasing text: representing the source’s ideas in your own words (without quotation marks)
  • Summarizing text: representing the source’s main ideas in your own words (without quotation marks)
  • Reproducing media: embedding pictures, videos, audio, graphic elements, etc. into your document

In each case, acknowledging your source with a citation at the point of use and follow-up bibliographical reference at the end of your document (see §3.5 below) is essential to avoid a charge of plagiarism. Let’s now look at each of these in turn.

3.4.1: Quoting Sources

3.4.2: paraphrasing sources, 3.4.3: summarizing sources.

Quoting is the easiest way to use sources in a research document, but it also requires care in using it properly so that you don’t accidentally plagiarize, misquote, or overquote. At its simplest, quoting takes source text exactly as it is and puts quotation marks (“ ”) around that text to set it off from your own words. The following points represent conventions and best practices when quoting:

  • You may have seen single quotation marks and think that they’re also acceptable to use, but that’s only true in the UK and some other Commonwealth countries, not in Canada; some European countries use << >> to set off quotations instead.
  • Also use double quotation marks for putting a single word or two in “scare quotes” when you’re drawing attention to how people use certain words and phrases—again, not single quotation marks since there is no such thing as quotation marks “lite.”
  • Use single quotation marks only for reported speech when you have a quotation within a quotation, as in, “The minister responded to say, ‘No comment at this time’ regarding the allegations of wrongdoing.”
  • If no parenthetical citation follows immediately after the closing quotation marks, the sentence-ending period falls to the left of those closing quotation marks (between the final letter and the “99”); a common mistake is to place the period to the right of the closing quotation marks ( . . . wrongdoing”.).
  • According to researchers Tblisky and Darion (2003), “. . .”
  • As Vice President of Operations Rhonda Rendell has noted, “. . .”
  • John Rucker, the first responder who pulled Mr. Warren from the wreckage, said that “. . .”
  • Spokespersons Gloria and Tom Grady clarified the new regulations: “. . .”
  • “. . . ,” confirmed the minister responsible for the initiative.
  • “. . . ,” writes Eva Hess, “. . .”
  • Quote purposefully: Quote only when the original wording is important. When we quote famous thinkers like Albert Einstein or Marshall McLuhan, we use their exact words because no one could say it better or more interestingly than they did. Also quote when you want your audience to see wording exactly as it appeared in the source text or as it was said in speech so that they can be sure that you’re not distorting the words as you might if you paraphrased instead. But if there’s nothing special about the original wording, then you’re better to paraphrase properly (see §3.4.2 below) than to quote.
  • Students frequently overuse direct quotation [when] taking notes, and as a result they overuse quotations in the final [research] paper. Probably only about 10% of your final manuscript should appear as directly quoted matter. Therefore, you should strive to limit the amount of exact transcribing of source materials while taking notes. (Lester, 1976, pp. 46-47)
  • Don’t quote excessively: As the above source says, a good rule of thumb is that your completed document should contain no more than 10% quoted material. Much above that will look lazy because it appears that you’re getting quotation to write your document for you. Quote no more than a sentence or two at a time if you quote at all.
  • To avoid introducing spelling mistakes or other transcription errors, best practice (if your source is electronic) is to highlight the text you want to quote, copy it (ctrl. + c), and paste it (ctrl. + v) into your document so that it matches the formatting of the rest of your document (i.e., with the same font type, size, etc.). To match the formatting, use the Paste Options drop-down menu that appears beside pasted text as soon as you drop it in and disappears as soon as you perform any operation other than clicking on the drop-down menu.
  • Though many people mistakenly refer to parentheses ( ) as “brackets”, brackets are squared [ ] and are used mainly to indicate changes to quoted words, whereas parentheses follow the quotation and mark off the citation. If you were to clarify and streamline the final sentence of the block quotation a few points above, for instance, you could say something like: Lester (1976) recommended “limit[ing] the amount of exact transcribing . . . while taking notes” (p. 47). Here, the verb “limit” in the source text needs to be converted into its participle form (having an -ing ending) to follow the past-tense verb in the sentence framing the quotation grammatically. Sneakily adding the “ing” to “limit” without using brackets would be misquotation because “limiting” appears nowhere in the original.
  • Notice that the ellipsis above is three spaced periods (not three stuck together, as in “…”) and that one doesn’t appear at the beginning of the quotation to represent the words in the original prior to “limit” nor at the end to represent source text following the quoted words (“… limit …”). Use the ellipsis only to show that you’re skipping over unnecessary words within a quotation.
  • Be careful not to use brackets and ellipses in a way that distorts or obscures the meaning of the original text. For instance, omitting “Probably” and changing “should” to “[can]” in the Lester quotation above will turn his soft guideline into a hard rule, which are not the same.
  • When you said in the class discussion forum, “No one cares about grammer, [ sic ] it doesnt [ sic ] really matter,” you tend to undermine your credibility on the topic with poor spelling and a comma splice.
  • Capitalize as in the original, even if it seems strange to start a quotation with a capital (because it was the first word in the original) though it’s no longer the first word because it follows a signal phrase in your sentence. See the example in the point above, for instance.
  • Quotation is a powerful tool in the arsenal of any writer needing to support a point with evidence. Capturing the source’s words exactly as they were written or spoken is an honest way of presenting research. For more on quotation, consult Purdue OWL ’s series of modules starting with the How to Use Quotation Marks page and ending with their Quotation Mark Exercise and Answers .

Hacker, Diana. (2006). The Bedford handbook (7th ed.) . New York: St. Martin’s.

Lester, J. D. (1976). Writing research papers: A complete guide (2nd ed.). University of Michigan.

Purdue OWL. (n.d.a). How to use quotation marks .

Purdue OWL. (n.d.b). Quotation mark exercise and answers .

Paraphrasing or “indirect quotation” is putting source text in your own words and altering the sentence structure to avoid using the quotation marks required in direct quotation. Paraphrasing is the preferred way of using a source when the original wording isn’t important. This way, you can incorporate the source’s ideas so they’re stylistically consistent with the rest of your document and thus better tailored to the needs of your audience (presuming the original was tailored for a different audience with different needs). Also, paraphrasing a source into your own words proves your advanced understanding of the source text.

A paraphrase must faithfully represent the source text by containing the same ideas as in the original in about the same length. As a matter of good writing, however, you should try to streamline your paraphrase so that it tallies fewer words than the source passage while still preserving the original meaning. An accurate paraphrase of the Lester (1976) passage block-quoted in the section above, for instance, can reduce a five-line passage to three lines without losing or distorting any of the original points:

Lester (1976) advises against exceeding 10% quotation in your written work. Since students writing research reports often quote excessively because of copy-cut-and-paste note-taking, try to minimize using sources word for word (pp. 46-47).

Notice that using a few isolated words from the original (“research,” “students,” “10%”) is fine, but also that this paraphrase doesn’t repeat any two-word sequence from the original because it changes the sentence structure along with most of the words. Properly paraphrasing without distorting, slanting, adding to, or deleting ideas from the source passage takes skill. The stylistic versatility required to paraphrase can be especially challenging to EAL learners and native English users whose general writing skills are still developing.

A common mistake that students make when paraphrasing is to go only part way towards paraphrasing by substituting-out major words (nouns, verbs, and adjectives) here and there while leaving the source passage’s basic sentence structure intact. This inevitably leaves strings of words from the original untouched in the “paraphrased” version, which can be dangerous because including such direct quotation without quotation marks will be caught by the plagiarism-busting software that college instructors use these days. Consider, for instance, the following botched attempt at a paraphrase of the Lester (1976) passage that subs out words selectively (lazily):

Students often overuse quotations when taking notes, and thus overuse them in research reports. About 10% of your final paper should be direct quotation. You should thus attempt to reduce the exact copying of source materials while note taking (pp. 46-47).

Let’s look at the same attempt, but bold the unchanged words to see how unsuccessful the paraphraser was in rephrasing the original in their own words (given in black):

As you can see, several strings of words from the original are left untouched because the writer didn’t adequately change the sentence structure of the original. The Originality Report from plagiarism-catching software such as Turnitin would indicate that the passage is 64% plagiarized because it retains 25 of the original words (out of 39 in this “paraphrase”) but without quotation marks around them. Correcting this by simply adding quotation marks around passages like “when taking notes, and” would be unacceptable because those words aren’t important enough on their own to warrant direct quotation. The fix would just be to paraphrase more thoroughly by altering the words and the sentence structure, as shown in the paraphrase a few paragraphs above. But how do you go about doing this?

Paraphrase easily by breaking down the task into these seven steps:

  • Read and re-read the source-text passage so that you thoroughly understand each point it makes. If it’s a long passage, you might want to break it up into digestible chunks. If you’re unsure of the meaning of any of the words, look them up in a dictionary; you can even just type the word into the Google search bar, hit Enter , and a definition will appear, along with results of other online dictionary pages that define the same word.
  • Look away and get your mind off the target passage. Process some different information for a while (e.g., a few minutes of gaming or social media—but just a few!)
  • Without looking back at the source text, repeat its main points as you understood them—not from memorizing the exact words, but as you would explain the same ideas in different words out loud to a friend.
  • Still without looking back at the source text, jot down that spoken wording and tailor the language so that it’s stylistically appropriate for your audience; edit and proofread your written version to make it grammatically correct in a way that perhaps your spoken-word version wasn’t.
  • Now compare your written paraphrase version to the original to ensure that:
  • Deleting any of the original points
  • Adding any points of your own
  • Distorting any of the ideas so they mean something substantially different from those in the original, or even take on a different character because you use words that, say, put a positive spin on something neutral or negative in the original
  • You haven’t repeated any two identical words from the original in a row
  • If any two words from the original remain, go further in changing those expressions by using a thesaurus in combination with a dictionary. When you enter a word into a thesaurus, it gives you a list of synonyms, which are different words that mean the same thing as the word you enter into it.
  • For instance, the noun party can mean a group that is involved in something serious (e.g., a third-party software company in a data-collection process), but the verb party means something you do on a wild Saturday night out with friends; it can also function as an adjective related to the verb (e.g., party trick , meaning a trick performed at a party).
  • Whenever you see synonymous words listed in a thesaurus and they look like something you want to use but you don’t know what they mean exactly, always look them up to ensure that they mean what you hope they mean; if not, move on to the next synonym until you find one that captures the meaning you intend. Doing this can save your reader the confusion and you the embarrassment of obvious thesaurus-driven diction problems (poor word choices).
  • Cite your source. Just because you didn’t put quotation marks around the words doesn’t mean that you don’t have to cite your source. For more on citing, see §3.5.2 below).

For more on paraphrasing, consult the Purdue OWL Paraphrasing learning module, Exercise , and Answer Key .

Purdue OWL (n.d.a). Paraphrase: Write It in Your Own Words .

Purdue OWL (n.d.b). Paraphrasing Exercise .

Purdue OWL (n.d.c). Paraphrasing Exercise: Possible Answers .

Summarizing is one of the most important skills in communications because professionals of every kind must explain to non-expert customers, managers, and even co-workers the complex concepts on which they are experts, but in a way that those non-experts can understand. Adapting the message to such audiences requires brevity but also translating jargon-heavy technical details into plain, accessible language.

Summarizing is thus paraphrasing only the highlights of a source text or speech. Like paraphrasing, a summary is indirect quotation that re-casts the source in your own words; unlike a paraphrase, however, a summary is a fraction of the source length—anywhere from less than 1% to a quarter depending on the source length and length of the summary. A summary can reduce a whole novel or film to a single-sentence blurb, for instance, or it could reduce a 50-word paragraph to a 15-word sentence. It can be as casual as a spoken run-down of a meeting your colleague was absent from and wanted to know what he missed, or an elevator pitch selling a project idea to a manager. It can also be as formal as a memo report on a conference you attended on behalf of your organization so your colleagues there can learn in a few minutes of reading the highlights of what you learned in a few days of attending the conference, saving them time and money.

The procedure for summarizing is much like that of paraphrasing except that it involves the extra step of pulling out highlights from the source. Altogether, this can be done in six steps, one of which includes the seven steps of paraphrasing, making this a twelve-step procedure:

  • Determine how big your summary should be (according to your audience’s needs) so that you have a sense of how much material you should collect from the source.
  • Read and re-read the source text so that you thoroughly understand it.
  • Disregard detail such as supporting evidence and examples.
  • If you have an electronic copy of the source, copy and paste the main points into your notes; for a print source that you can mark up, use a highlighter then transcribe those main points into your electronic notes.
  • How many points you collect depends on how big your summary should be (according to audience needs).
  • Paraphrase those main points following the seven-step procedure for paraphrasing outlined in §3.4.2 above.
  • Edit your draft to make it coherent, clear, and especially concise.
  • Ensure that your summary meets the needs of your audience and that your source is cited. Again, simply not having quotation marks around words is unacceptable for documenting your source(s).

Once you have a stable of summarized, paraphrased, and quoted passages from research sources, building your document around them requires good organizational skills. We’ll focus more on this next step of the drafting process in the following chapter ( Ch. 4 ), but basically it involves arranging your integrated research material in a coherent fashion, with main points up front and supporting points below proceeding in a logical sequence towards a convincing conclusion. Throughout this chapter, however, we’ve frequently encountered the requirement to document sources by citing and referencing, as in the last steps of both summarizing and paraphrasing indicated above. After reinforcing our quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing skills, we can turn our focus on how to document sources.

Key Takeaway

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  • If you’ve already pulled out the main points as part of the previous exercise, practice including them as properly punctuated quotations in your document with smooth signal phrases introducing them.
  • Paraphrase those same main-point sentences following the seven-step procedure outlined in §3.4.2 above. In other words, if Exercise 1 above was direct quotation, now try indirect quotation for each passage.
  • Following the six-step procedure outlined in §3.4.3 above, summarize the entire source article, webpage, or whatever document you chose by reducing it to a single coherent paragraph of no more than 10 lines on your page.

3.4: Using Source Text: Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing Copyright © 2022 by John Corr; Grant Coleman; Betti Sheldrick; and Scott Bunyan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting

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These resources provide lesson plans and handouts for teachers interested in teaching students how to avoid plagiarism. The resources ask students to practice summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting. The resources with titles that include "Handout" provide handouts that are free to print for your students by using the print option in your web browser. The "Handout" resources correspond with the resource listed above it.

Time Estimate

Activate students’ schemata regarding the similarities and differences among summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting.


Computer Lab Option Materials

Digital projector

Write the words Summarizing , Paraphrasing and Quoting along the top of the whiteboard.

Elicit from students the rules they know related to each writing strategy.

Add additional information as needed. The board may appear as follows:

Computer Lab Option

Rather than using the whiteboard, one may choose to open up and project the above table in a word processing program, like Microsoft Word, completing the table as answers are elicited from students.


APA: mini-workshops, exercises, examples, and more!

  • Quoting Directly
  • Google and Paraphrasing
  • Paraphrasing
  • Reference List
  • Getting Creative in the Bibliography Zone
  • Hyperlinks... as Reference list?!
  • Myth Busting
  • Direct Quoting
  • In-Text Citations
  • When to Cite
  • Just Can't Get Enough

Stepping Up!

From time to time, you may come across a portion of text that really captures the moment, and would add a little spice and clarity to your own work.  It's time for the Direct Quote!

Stated more formally, the American Psychological Association (2020) has this to say, "Use direct quotations rather than when reproducing an exact definition..., when the author has said something memorably or succinctly, or when you want to respond to exact wording (e.g., something someone said)." (p. 270)

Furthermore, the manual says very clearly that your professor may place limits on the number of direct quotes  appearing in your written work! (p. 270)

With respect to the length of a directly quoted passage, there are two primary differences.  Short quotations and block quotations are discussed below.  This straightforward distinction adds clarity to your writing.

Short Quotations   (fewer than 40 words)

add the quoted material within the text

enclose it with double quotation marks

include a full citation within the same sentence as the quotation

Block Quotations (40 words or more)

start the block quotation on a new line, indenting the entire quotation 0.5 inches from the left margin

do not enclose the quotation within quotation marks

include a full citation for the block quotation

double-space the entire block quotation and do not add extra space before or after it

So as not to damage the creative element in writing, these examples illustrate the range of possibilities.

Short Quotations (fewer than 40 words)

Documenting the changes in cheating behavior are capped by the observation that  “the students who do cheat are engaging in a wider variety of test cheating behaviors today and are also cheating more often" (McCabe & Trevino, 1996, p. 31).

“The dramatic upsurge in cheating heralded by the media was not found,”  to the surprise of the researchers, and media outlets alike  (McCabe & Trevino, 1996, p. 31).

According to Hollis (2018) “With all of these anxieties related to academic success and the subsequent financial burden, students often see cheating as a convenient valve to release the pressure" (p. 28).

“With all of these anxieties related to academic success and the subsequent financial burden, students often see cheating as a convenient valve to release the pressure," wrote Hollis (2018, p. 28) in her exploration of online college cheating.

The research study attempted to answer the following question, "Can student cheating on an exam be efficiently observed without students knowing hey are being watched?" (Fendler et al., 2018, p. 3).

In 1996,  McCabe and Trevino discovered  “The dramatic upsurge in cheating heralded by the media was not found” (p. 31).

Block quotation with parenthetical citation

The significance of the gender variable is described:

There is, however, a statistically significant difference in the means between the two samples with regards to gender (44.9% in Unassigned;

63.5% in Assigned). That is, female students comprise a much greater percentage of the population in Assigned. Prior research has provided

mixed results regarding the role of gender on cheating. For example, McCabe and Trevino (1997) find that men self-reported more cheating

than women, while Baird (1980) and Haines et al. (1986) report no statistically significant differences in cheating between men and women.

Thus, we do not believe this difference influences our results, but the role that gender plays in observed cheating is an interesting area for

future research. (Fendler et al., 2018, p. 5)

Block quotation with narrative citation

In her discussion of the rise of the "ghost-student" industry, Hollis (2018) reviews student scenarios that may prompt them to seek the services

offered by these shadowy "scholars". 

Often, students enroll in classes with the sincere effort to complete the work and pass the class. However, for those students who do not

effectively manage their time, or do not have a clear grasp of the work involved, may soon find themselves overwhelmed by the class. Further,

some students feel high-stakes pressure associated with passing with a certain grade, perhaps to maintain a certain GPA and/or to meet a

prerequisite requirement. For example, student-athletes striving to keep their eligibility might need to pass with a specific grade. Other

students may need the class in order to advance to the next level or to complete the degree before exhausting their financial aid. The

pressures of passing a class in tandem with competing interests and/or financial consequences can quickly motivate students to cheat. (p.27)

Class Exercises for Short Quotations

These two exercises have the following aim:

1.  Participants will practice and learn the different ways of quoting directly with short quotations.

Instructions for Exercise 1

1. Exercise Sheet 1 consists of text taken from the three different articles mentioned in the References box at the bottom of this page.

2. Using the text in Exercise Sheet 1, construct six direct quotes, making use of each of the forms for direct short quotes outlined above.

3. Construct short quotations from portions of the text, or all of the quoted text.

Exercise Sheet 1

"Although survey data can provide instructive insights into thought processes and behaviors, surveys about academic dishonestly must be viewed with caution."  This text is taken from page 2 of the Fendler article.

In the Fendler article, the authors posed this research question: "Does unannounced assigned seating for an exam reduce social cheating?" This quoted piece can be found on page 3.

"In turn, community college students are more likely to balance commuting, work responsibilities, child care, and elder care. To manage their time, some community college students engage in the convenience of online education and as a result are exploring new avenues in online cheating, beyond cheating on a single exam or paper. The emergence of the student-for-hire, or so-called ghost-student, who is paid to take an entire class for another student, is one somewhat new to the education world and is particularly dangerous to community colleges."  This section is found in Hollis, on page 25.

"The current educational market with the proliferation of online education and increased reliance on adjunct faculty has created a perfect storm in which the ghost-student can operate." This text is taken from Hollis, page 26.

"Large numbers of students have cheated since time immemorial, and they continue to do so. Although there are new forms of cheating (such as storing crib notes in the memory of a calculator), the overall level of cheating has increased only modestly. However, there have been significant increases in test cheating among women and in unpermitted collaboration among all students on written work. In addition, students report engaging in a greater variety of test cheating behaviors today and there seem to be significant increases in the most explicit forms of test and examination cheating.   Although there are doubtless many factors that explain these trends, changes in the institutional character of many schools have certainly contributed to changing student attitudes about cheating and their resulting behavior. Many college campuses are now larger, with fewer students living on campus, and higher education has become more of a business, with schools aggressively competing with each other for the same students. Not only have these factors combined to make the college experience less personal for many students, there is evidence that this development has made students more cynical about cheating."   This segment is drawn from the McCabe study and appears on page 32-33. (The part highlighted in bold type occurs on page 33.)

Example for Exercise Sheet 1

While survey data has its place, it has been noted that, " surveys about academic dishonestly must be viewed with caution" (Fendler, Yates, & Godbey, 2018, p. 2).

Instructions for Exercise 2

1. For each direct quote sample, use point form to identify the problem(s), if there are problem(s)

Exercise Sheet 2

"When you gesture toward the screen, stand so that your shoulders are facing in the direction of the audience."  This text appears in a book by Garr Reynolds, and appears on page 84.  (The complete citation for this book appears in the References at the bottom of this page.)

Below are samples of short direct quotations that may or may not need adjustments.

In working with slides, when you gesture toward the screen, stand so that your shoulders are facing in the direction of the audience. (p. 84)

During a slide presentation, “When you gesture toward the screen, stand so that your shoulders are facing in the direction of the audience” (p. 82).

With slides as your backdrop, ensure that “When you gesture toward the screen, stand so that your shoulders are facing in the direction of the audience” (Reynolds, p. 84).

During a demo with slides, “When you gesture toward the screen, stand so that your shoulders are facing in the direction of the audience.” (Naked Presenter, p. 84)

 In a typical presentation “When you point at the screen, stand so that your shoulders are facing the audience.” (Reynolds, p. 84)

In working with slides, the author advises that “When you gesture toward the screen, stand so that your shoulders are facing in the direction of the audience” (Reynolds, 2011, p. 84).

During a slide presentation, Reynolds (2011) recommends that as “you gesture toward the screen, stand so that your shoulders are facing in the direction of the audience” (p. 84).

Example for Exercise Sheet 2

In this sample, the following adjustments are needed:

- corrected page number

- full in-text citation, including Author and Date information

Class Exercise for Block Quotations

This exercise has the following aim:

1. Students with gain practice and confidence in the construction of block quotations.

1. Choose a suitable segment from the excerpt in Exercise Sheet 1 and construct a correctly formatted block quotation with the narrative citation and a correctly formatted block quotation using the parenthetical citation.

The passage below can be found in The Naked Presenter, on page 84.  (The complete citation is listed in the references section at the bottom of this page.)

"Even if visuals are projected behind you, there is no need to turn your head to look back except for the very briefest of moments. When you gesture toward the screen, stand so that your shoulders are facing in the direction of the audience. If you keep your shoulders pointed toward the front, you will naturally turn your head back toward the audience after glancing at the screen. Turning slightly and briefly toward the screen to point out a detail is acceptable. However, continually looking at the screen behind you or across the stage from you—simply to remind you what is up on the screen—is distracting and unnecessary behavior. Except in rare incidents, when you use a computer to project visuals you can place the computer down low in front of you so there is little reason to have to turn around."

Fendler, R. J., Yates, M. C., & Godbey, J. M. (2018). Observing and deterring social cheating on college exams. International Journal for the

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning , 12 (1), 1-9.

Hollis, L. P. (2018). Ghost-students and the new wave of online cheating for community college students. New Directions for Community

Colleges , 183, 25-34.

McCabe, D. L., & Trevino, L. K. (1996). What we know about cheating in college: Longitudinal trends and recent developments.  Change

28 (1), 28-33.

Reynolds, G. (2011). The naked presenter: Delivering powerful presentations with or without slides . New Riders.

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11.2: Quoting and Paraphrasing

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When you are asked to write about or analyze text(s), you will use quotes and paraphrases from them. What is the difference between quoting and paraphrasing?

  • Quoting: Is using the direct language from another person either in full sentences or groups of words and putting the borrowed language between quotation marks.
  • Paraphrasing: Is putting the ideas or arguments of another person entirely into your own words.


Before you use a quotation, decide if you can use your own words (paraphrase) to express the author's ideas. If you include too many quotations, readers form the impression that you cannot think for yourself. However, in text-based writing, you will want to include some quotes, so you keep your analysis of the text central to your discussion. Use quotations when…

  • the original language is as important as the ideas it contains , that is, when the author’s words are so articulate or expressive that they deserve to be preserved.
  • the original language is concise, and a paraphrase would be too wordy.
  • the original language is from an established authority who could lend extra credibility to your claims.
  • the original language itself is the object of analysis , a situation that happens most commonly when writing about literature.


  • When you quote, you want to enclose all borrowed language between quotation marks and then provide an in-text citation that cites the source. In MLA formatting, the in-text citation generally includes the author’s last name and the page number in parenthesis after the quote (Garcia 21). See Chapter 5: MLA Conventions for more detail.
  • When you paraphrase, you are deciding that an author's ideas but not his/hers exact words are important to your point. A paraphrase should not change the ideas, but it can eliminate or change words, often in order to condense a long sentence that contains details unnecessary to your point. Even though you are not quoting, you still need to credit the source you are paraphrasing by making it clear in the context of your discussion or by citing it as you would a quote.

Example: Quoting and Paraphrasing

Original: The solidarity that characterizes communities does not mean, however, that all is unity and harmony within. Many commentators err, I think, by insisting that absence of conflict, like the family conflict we all know, is real, though it differs from, say, market competition, in being mediated by emotional bonds. (from "The Meanings of Community" by Thomas Bender, page 67.)

Quote : According to Bender, "The solidarity that characterizes communities does not mean, however, that all is unity and harmony within" (67).

Paraphrase : While some people believe a lack of conflict characterizes community, Bender asserts that some communities may have and need conflict.

Partial Paraphrase : Unlike other forms of conflict, though, Bender believes that family conflict is "mediated by emotional bonds” (67).


In writing you will use a mixture of direct quotations, paraphrases and partial paraphrases. Using the original quotations below, create one of each type:

Quote 1: "In my teaching I never concealed my political views: my detestation of war and militarism, my anger at racial inequality, my belief in a democratic socialism, in a rational and just distribution of the world's wealth. I made clear my abhorrence of any kind of bullying, whether by powerful nations over weaker ones, governments over their citizens, employers over employees, or by anyone on the Right or Left, who thinks they have a monopoly on the truth." (from Howard Zinn's book You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train , page 7).


Partial Paraphrase:

Quote 2: "The eye-for-an-eye philosophy, the impulse to defend oneself when attacked, has always been held as the highest measure of American manhood. We are a nation that worships the frontier tradition, and our heroes are those who champion justice through violent retaliation against injustice. It is not simple to adopt the credo that moral force has as much strength and virtue as the capacity to return a physical blow; or that to refrain from hitting back requires more will and bravery than the automatic reflexes of defense." (from Martin Luther King's book Why We Can't Wait , page 24).


Quote 1: Howard Zinn

Quote: Howard Zinn conveys to his students his strong convictions that no one has the right to oppress another under any circumstance, “I made clear my abhorrence of any kind of bullying, whether by powerful nations over weaker ones, governments over their citizens, employers over employees, or by anyone on the Right or Left, who thinks they have a monopoly on the truth” (7). Paraphrase: Zinn shares his support of equality for all people and his anti-oppression viewpoints with his students. Partial Paraphrase: Zinn fearlessly shares his controversial political views such as his “detestation of war and militarism” (7). Quote 2: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Quote: King looks to our historical background in the U.S. to understand why we are a people so driven by violence: “ We are a nation that worships the frontier tradition, and our heroes are those who champion justice through violent retaliation against injustice” (24).

Paraphrase: King asserts it is harder to practice non-violence in the U.S. where we admire people who are willing to commit violence.

Partial Paraphrase: King sadly observes that the “highest measure of American manhood” (24) is a person’s willingness to commit violent revenge.

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Paraphrase Games and Activities You Should Know

Table of Contents

Paraphrase games and activities teach your students to paraphrase without putting them to sleep. This article teaches and reinforces this skill in fun and exciting ways by using activities and games.

Students must sometimes find solutions or facts from what they’ve read and not merely duplicate the source. We call this “paraphrasing.”

Why does this matter? First, we want to make sure we don’t plagiarize, so we don’t use someone else’s work and call it our own. After rephrasing and rethinking, teachers need to hear what a student says to know if they understand.

Paraphrase games and activities teach your students to paraphrase without putting them to sleep.

Why Play Paraphrase Games?

Teachers must often hear students synthesize and rewrite words to evaluate if they grasp it. Most people aren’t born knowing how to paraphrase. These activities and games teach and reinforce paraphrase.

Most of us aren’t born knowing how to paraphrase, though. Use these games and activities to help your students learn and practice paraphrasing.

1. Paraphrasing Races

The teacher puts the students into groups and gives each group a sentence. They have three minutes to come up with as many different ways to say the sentence as they can. Each good way of putting it is worth one point. The winner is the team with the most points.

2. Fun Question and Answer

At its core, paraphrasing means rewriting something in your own words, so have students start by doing that. Split your students into pairs and ask them questions.

Questions like “What did you do yesterday after school?” Tell me your vacation plans etc.

  • Student A gives a three- or four-sentence answer to the question.
  • Student B rewrites what Student A said.
  • Then, each pair changes roles.

You should show the class how to do this a few times before you start.

3. Quiz, Quiz, Trade Game

This is another version of the “Talk at First” Game. Start by:

  • Giving each student a piece of paper with a sentence on it.
  • Have students find partners.
  • Student A says her sentence, and Student B rewrites it in his or her own words.

The students then switch places. Then, they trade cards and go on to find different partners.

4. The Use of Index Cards

Ask students to take something their parent or sibling says and put it in their own words. Send them home with two index cards. On one, have them write down the original idea and on the other, how they changed it. Share the next day in class.

5. Identify Me

Make index cards with samples of academic text, like a few sentences from your science or social studies book.


Give each group both a set of sample text cards and a set of blank index cards. Have each group choose someone to be the first judge and someone else to be the reader.

The judge picks a ready-made card and reads it out loud. Then, the judge puts it in the middle of the group so that everyone can see it.

Everyone in the group (except the reader) rewrites the text in their own words and writes it on a blank index card.

The card is then put in the reader. The reader reads each quoted card aloud, and the judge tries to guess who authored it. Give points for each right answer. Switch roles and keep playing until all of the task cards are used up.

6. Paraphrase Together

Try rewriting a short paragraph as a whole class. Use your document, camera or write it on the board to show the paragraph. You might want to give each student a copy. Make sure your pupils are aware of the distinction between paraphrasing and summarizing . Talk about the different ways to do things.

The students are to use the Four R’s to paraphrase correctly.

Reword the sentences

  • Students should try to reword the sentences. Use synonyms for words and phrases whenever you can.

Rearrange the sentences

  • Students should be able to change the order of the words in a sentence to make a new sentence. They can even switch the order of the ideas in a paragraph.

Realize that s ome words are unchangeable

  • Students should be aware that some words and phrases cannot be changed. Words such as names, dates, titles, etc., but they can be rephrased in a different way.

Recheck for same meaning

  • Make sure that the meaning of your paraphrase is the same as the original.

Paraphrase games are a great way to practice and develop your paraphrasing skills . They provide a space to reflect on and improve on your writing skills as well as work on teamwork, and creativity.

With a bit of creative thinking and originality, these games provide a lot of possibility for unforgettable moments.

Paraphrase Games and Activities You Should Know

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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Paraphrasing, Quoting, and Summarising

Efl & esl english language skills.

A photo of a clapperboard and popcorn.

Skills:  Reading & Writing

Level:   B2  Upper-intermediate and above

Learn how best to rewrite correctly, with a creative paraphrasing and summarising activity based on movies

Printables: Paraphrasing exercises , Logline activities

What is paraphrasing?

How to paraphrase in three easy steps, paraphrasing exercises, how to quote, summarising with loglines, the avengers  logline, write your own logline.

Paraphrasing is the ability to copy what we heard or read by repeating it in our own words composed by our own thoughts. Being able to paraphrase well is an essential speaking and writing skill.

It’s also a reading skill. Sentences normally only have one idea. So that we can repeat what we read while keeping the original meaning at the same time, it’s important that we understand everything, including the finer details. Paraphrasing is often done for short pieces of text such as one or two sentences, which brings us on to its purpose.

There are a couple of reasons to paraphrase. Firstly, if we are writing an original piece of work, say an essay or a blog, and we want to include an extract from a copyright text such as a book or an article, then we can paraphrase it. We could perhaps quote it instead, but this often comes with some limitations, for example how much is legally allowed to be copied or maybe the extract itself is just too wordy.

This is the second reason to paraphrase. We can make the extract shorter and simpler and pass our understanding on to the reader by making it clearer too.

Therefore, paraphrasing is different to directly quoting or plainly summarising. All three are ways of rewriting something but they each have a different purpose. We don’t paraphrase a book, we summarise it, as books have many ideas. You can find one type of summary on the back of most books, which is called a blurb .

In fact, on the back of a novel you might see all three examples at play. The opening sentences of the novel could be paraphrased in an interesting way at the top. In the centre there will be a descriptive summary of the story and the author. Below that it might have some catchy quotes from reviewers.

Paraphrasing is effective at demonstrating that we understand a writer’s point of view in a sentence they wrote. Another benefit to this technique is that because paraphrasing is not just copying word for word, it helps to avoid the problem of plagiarism. Although, whether we are paraphrasing, quoting, or summarising someone else’s words, it’s always necessary to mention the source of the information.

Here are some examples of paraphrasing:

Norwegian law says that anything found that is older than 1537 is state property.


Objects found in Norway from before 1537 should be returned to the government.

Fatou sometimes asks herself, “I can’t dance, I can’t rap ... What am I doing?”

Every so often, Fatou finds herself questioning her singing and dancing abilities.

In a statement given by the European Council, they said that “batteries contain many valuable resources and we must be able to reuse those critical raw materials”.

It’s important that the precious natural materials that go into making batteries are reusable, the European Council have officially stated.

When we need to copy some text without quoting it, we can’t get away with just changing the word order and call it paraphrasing! Here is how to paraphrase in three easy steps.

Do you understand the idea(s) of the sentence(s)? Do you know the meaning of all the words?

When we want to use what someone else wrote in our own work, it’s probably because we like it. It’s certain that we understand it if that is the case. If, however, we want to paraphrase something because we disagree with it, it’s worth checking that we understand the full meaning. Either way, asking yourself the two questions above is a great first step.

The next step is to identify the words that carry the meaning of the sentence. There are a few things to be aware of here:

  • The facts cannot be changed, such as who or what the sentence is about. Things such as proper nouns or facts and figures will most likely stay the same.
  • The rest of the important words can be changed with synonyms to suit our taste, such as government for state . Also, looking at names or data as words, it is possible to use synonyms. Compare for example, a percentage figure of 51% could be written as “just over half”.
  • The sentence structure might also change too. Using verbs instead of nominalisations could be useful when rewriting something, especially to make it clearer. For example, the opening phrase “In a statement given by...” compared to the closing phrase “...have officially stated”.

The last thing to do is to re-read your new sentence to see if it carries the same meaning as the original. Finally, the original needs to be referrenced in an appropriate way.

Choose between A or B as the best paraphrased answer.

1. Original :

Snoop Dogg said the store “stays true to who I am” and that Tha Dogg House will be mind-blowing.

Paraphrase A:

“I’m a true artist” said Snoop Dogg, talking of his mind-blowing new project, Tha Dogg House.

Paraphrase B:

It will blow people’s minds Snoop Dogg said, speaking of Tha Dogg House being a reflection of his creativity.

B is the best paraphrase. Paraphrase A is a bad example of paraphrasing because quote marks are used for words that Snoop Dogg doesn’t actually say.

2. Original :

Finally Zimmer managed to ask, “Will you marry me?” There was screaming and clapping from the crowd as the newly-engaged couple hugged.

Zimmer eventually got around to asking the big question. The crowd showed their delight with a large applause as Zimmer and his partner had an embrace.

The audience gave a loud applause after Zimmer proposed and gave his partner an embrace in front of them.

B is the best paraphrase because it uses only one sentence to paraphrase the information.

3. Original :

Research in 2018 shows that today’s generation consumes 20% less alcohol than the previous one.

The latest generation drinks quite a bit less alcohol than older generations — 20% less actually, according to 2018 research.

Recent studies reveal that today’s generation drinks a fraction less alcohol than older generations did.

A is the best paraphrase. Paraphrase B tries to rephrase the data but is too subjective.

4. Original :

The initiative aims fundamentally to help men who struggle with problems like depression and anxiety in their everyday life.

The purpose of the scheme is to help men with their day-to-day mental difficulties.

They have a plan to help people who are failing to cope with the stresses of modern life.

A is the best paraphrase. Paraphrase B is too vague.

5. Original :

Dua Lipa recommends the books she reads on social media and that reading helps her to “understand emotions and feelings”.

Dua Lipa shares what she reads on social media, believing it helps her feel better about herself in the process.

Dua Lipa shares the books she has read on social media because she believes it helps us to understand ourselves better.

B is the best paraphrase. Paraphrase A doesn’t make it clear what Dua Lipa is reading or why she shares it.

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Quoting is linked to paragraph structure, for example as a way to illustrate a point, which is a language skill for another time. So this section will mostly cover the technical know-hows of quoting instead of diving into the reasons why, and offer some higher-level synonyms for the word said .

Quotes are often used as evidence, compared to paraphrasing something in your own terms. In fact, quoting is sometimes known as “direct quoting” whereas paraphrasing is sometimes known as “indirect quoting”. Direct quotes require quotation marks but paraphrasing doesn’t need quotation marks. Typical examples of direct quoting would be a famous movie line or the words of an expert. Or both at the same time, as in this passage from Matthew Bortolin’s 2005 book The Dharma of Star Wars :

Yoda’s words about Luke in The Empire Strikes Back can easily be applied to us: “Never his mind on where he was. What he was doing.” Likewise, our minds are rarely in touch with where we are and with what we are doing.

It is also possible to make a quote fit within the rhythm of your own sentence:

Scientist Rayyanah Barnawi was thrilled to say “hello from outer space” from on board the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.

Or even to employ paraphrasing and a quotation together:

The RAC said they want the trialled cameras in the worst areas affected, and “the sooner effective camera enforcement can be put in place the better”.

Here are some alternative verbs to use instead of relying on say .

A2 Pre-intermediate and lower:

B1 Intermediate:

B2 Upper-intermediate:

C1 Advanced:

A short final note on usage. British and American English rules of quotation can vary slightly. American English uses double quote marks, “like this” and British English uses single quote marks, ‘like this’. However, British media tends to use the double style too, as do the lessons on Every Bit English. And according to British English rules, your sentence punctuation goes outside the quote marks. Look out for an in-depth language skills page on punctuation here in the future!

In the first section What is paraphrasing? above, it was mentioned that paraphrasing, quoting, and summarising have different purposes, and it had book blurbs as an example. Well, now we’re on the summarising section, we will see that summarising can have various purposes and styles of its own.

Instead of looking at how to write an academic summary, say a book summary for an essay, we’ll look at summaries in the form of loglines .

A logline is a short, one or two sentence summary of a movie (or television show or book) written with the aim to catch the reader’s interest. It is short but packed with detail such as the main theme of the story, what the characters are like, and it will be written in an exciting style.

You’ll see loglines on Netflix for example, typically directly underneath the movie’s image and title. This is because loglines play an important role in advertising a movie and they’re written before a movie ever even starts production.

A writer needs a useful way to summarise their script and so they write a logline. This will be a carefully written summary that uniquely captures exactly what their story is about. If it is written successfully, then producers and studios who read it (before the script) are more likely to be interested in making it into a movie.

If we turn writing a logline into an English lesson activity, then it presents a fascinating way to practice the reading and rewriting skills necessary for good summarising and paraphrasing. Remembering the first step of paraphrasing above, to write any paraphrase requires understanding the original text. The same applies to summaries and their original texts. For both techniques, some level of reading analysis is required.

In the next section a movie logline is analysed and in the final section the materials and guidance are offered to try it yourself.

Earth’s mightiest heroes must come together and learn to fight as a team if they are going to stop the mischievous Loki and his alien army from enslaving humanity.

Source (external link):

Sounds like an exciting movie judging by this summary! We can tell from just these few words that it’s a fantasy action movie. It pictures a massive-scale battle between good and bad, and possibly in between the heroes too. Let’s take a closer look at what the logline manages to detail.

The setting:

The heroes:

mightiest heroes

Their present situation:

must come together and learn to fight as a team

Their goal:

if they are going to stop

The problem:

the mischievous Loki and his alien army from enslaving humanity.

As every movie has a different story, loglines always tell a different story. As summaries, loglines will often contain these narrative elements:

  • The setting. This is usually a place or a period in time.
  • The hero or heroine. It could be a group as in the above example. The literary term for the main character is protagonist .
  • The main character’s present situation. Where they start their story. In a logline, this is often a time of difficulty or change in their life.
  • The goal. What the main character has to do for a happy ending to the story.
  • The problem. In literary terms, the villain, or hero’s enemy, is called the antagonist . This could be anything from a fantasy figure with evil plans, to a long journey to be overcome.

Writing a logline is a good exercise for practising summarising and paraphrasing. There are two activities presented below. In the first, you can practice paraphrasing by rewriting a logline, and in the second, you can practice summarising by writing your own logline.

Before that, here are some tips for writing a better logline:

  • The order of events as shown in the above example is good for loglines
  • Try not to use the main character’s name. Describe them instead.
  • For practice purposes, keep it only one sentence long.
  • Don’t say how the story finishes! (No spoilers .)
  • Don’t finish with a question mark.

Once you’ve completed the activities and written some loglines, share them and see if anyone can guess what movies they are!

Look up any logline and write it down. Then analyse it for the five narrative elements and write each element in the table. Use the keywords in the logline to help identify what element it is. Then think of some synonyms for the keywords. Use your new keywords to paraphrase the original by writing your own version of the logline.

Think of a movie you know well. Fill in the table with ideas for keywords that describe and summarise the movie. Then compose your own logline for it. Afterwards, look up the original and see how close you were!

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Quoting and Paraphrasing Activity


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