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Paraphrasing, quoting and summarising: Summary example

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Paraphrase and Summary

When should i paraphrase, and when should i summarize.

To paraphrase means to restate someone else’s ideas in your own language at roughly the same level of detail. To summarize means to reduce the most essential points of someone else’s work into a shorter form. Along with quotation, paraphrase and summary provide the main tools for integrating your sources into your papers. When choosing which to use, consider first your discipline and the type of writing in which you are engaged. For example, literature reviews in science reports rely almost exclusively on summary. Argumentative essays, by contrast, rely on all three tools.

Paraphrase and summary are indispensable in argumentative papers because they allow you to include other people’s ideas without cluttering up your paragraphs with quotations . These techniques help you take greater control of your essay. Consider using either tool when an idea from one of your sources is important to your essay but the wording is not. Space limitations may guide you in your choice. But above all, think about how much of the detail from your source is relevant to your argument. If your reader needs to know only the bare bones, then summarize.

Though paraphrase and summary are often preferable to quotation, do not rely too heavily on them, either. Your ideas are what matter most. Allow yourself the space to develop those ideas.

How do I paraphrase?

Whenever you paraphrase, remember these two points:

  • You must provide a reference.
  • The paraphrase must be in your own words. You must do more than merely substitute phrases here and there. You must also create your own sentence structures.

Finding new words for ideas that are already well expressed can be hard, but changing words should not be your chief aim anyway. Focus, rather, on filtering the ideas through your own understanding. The following strategy will make the job of paraphrasing a lot easier:

  • When you are at the note-taking stage, and you come across a passage that may be useful for your essay, do not copy the passage verbatim unless you think you will want to quote it.
  • If you think you will want to paraphrase the passage, make a note only of the author’s basic point (or points). You don’t even need to use full sentences.
  • In your note, you should already be translating the language of the original into your own words. What matters is that you capture the original idea.
  • Make sure to jot down the source as well as the page number so that you can make a proper reference later on.

When it comes time to write the paper, rely on your notes rather than on the author’s work. You will find it much easier to avoid borrowing from the original passage because you will not have seen it recently. Follow this simple sequence:

  • Convert the ideas from your notes into full sentences.
  • Provide a reference.
  • Go back to the original to ensure that (a) your paraphrase is accurate and (b) you have truly said things in your own words.

Let’s look at examples of illegitimate and legitimate paraphrase, using a passage from Oliver Sacks’ essay “An Anthropologist on Mars”:

The cause of autism has also been a matter of dispute. Its incidence is about one in a thousand, and it occurs throughout the world, its features remarkably consistent even in extremely different cultures. It is often not recognized in the first year of life, but tends to become obvious in the second or third year. Though Asperger regarded it as a biological defect of affective contact—innate, inborn, analogous to a physical or intellectual defect—Kanner tended to view it as a psychogenic disorder, a reflection of bad parenting, and most especially of a chillingly remote, often professional, "refrigerator mother." At this time, autism was often regarded as "defensive" in nature, or confused with childhood schizophrenia. A whole generation of parents—mothers, particularly—were made to feel guilty for the autism of their children.

What follows is an example of illegitimate paraphrase :

The cause of the condition autism has been disputed. It occurs in approximately one in a thousand children, and it exists in all parts of the world, its characteristics strikingly similar in vastly differing cultures. The condition is often not noticeable in the child’s first year, yet it becomes more apparent as the child reaches the age of two or three. Although Asperger saw the condition as a biological defect of the emotions that was inborn and therefore similar to a physical defect, Kanner saw it as psychological in origin, as reflecting poor parenting and particularly a frigidly distant mother. During this period, autism was often seen as a defence mechanism, or it was misdiagnosed as childhood schizophrenia. An entire generation of mothers and fathers (but especially mothers) were made to feel responsible for their offspring’s autism (Sacks 247-48).

Most of these sentences do little more than substitute one phrase for another. An additional problem with this passage is that the only citation occurs at the very end of the paragraph. The reader might be misled into thinking that the earlier sentences were not also based on Sacks.

The following represents a legitimate paraphrase of the original passage:

In "An Anthropologist on Mars," Sacks lists some of the known facts about autism. We know, for example, that the condition occurs in roughly one out of every thousand children. We also know that the characteristics of autism do not vary from one culture to the next. And we know that the condition is difficult to diagnose until the child has entered the second or third year of life. As Sacks points out, often a child who goes on to develop autism will show no sign of the condition at the age of one (247). Sacks observes, however, that researchers have had a hard time agreeing on the causes of autism. He sketches the diametrically opposed positions of Asperger and Kanner. On the one hand, Asperger saw the condition as representing a constitutional defect in the child's ability to make meaningful emotional contact with the external world. On the other hand, Kanner regarded autism as a consequence of harmful childrearing practices. For many years confusion about this condition reigned. One unfortunate consequence of this confusion, Sacks suggests, was the burden of guilt imposed on so many parents for their child's condition (247-48).

This paraphrase illustrates a few basic principles that can help you to paraphrase more effectively:

  • Refer explicitly to the author in your paraphrase. The passage above makes explicit right away that the ideas come from Sacks. Its indebtedness is signaled in a few strategic places. The single parenthetical note at the end of each paragraph is therefore all that is needed by way of citation. Referring to Sacks also strengthens the passage by clarifying the source of its ideas.
  • Don’t just paraphrase. Analyze. In the paraphrase of Sacks, the decision to split the original passage into two paragraphs adds an analytical dimension: the new passage doesn’t just reiterate his points but lays out the two-part structure of his argument.
  • Not all of the details from the original passage need to be included in the paraphrase.
  • You don't need to change every word. For the sake of clarity, keep essential terms the same (e.g., autism , culture , children ). However, avoid borrowing entire phrases (e.g., reflection of bad parenting ) unless they are part of the discourse of your field (e.g., psychogenic disorder ).

How do I summarize?

Summary moves much further than paraphrase from point-by-point translation. When you summarize a passage, you need first to absorb the meaning and then to capture in your own words the most important elements from the original passage. A summary is necessarily shorter than a paraphrase.

Here is a summary of the passage from "An Anthropologist on Mars":

In "An Anthropologist on Mars," Sacks notes that although there is little disagreement on the chief characteristics of autism, researchers have differed considerably on its causes. As he points out, Asperger saw the condition as an innate defect in the child's ability to connect with the external world, whereas Kanner regarded it as a consequence of harmful childrearing practices (247-48).

Written by Jerry Plotnick, Director, University College Writing Centre

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summary paraphrasing example

Paraphrasing Vs. Summarizing: The Difference And Best Examples

Explore the critical distinctions between the paraphrasing and summarizing techniques and how to apply it into writing utilizing examples of each.

summary paraphrasing example

Ivana Vidakovic

Sep 16, 2022

Paraphrasing Vs. Summarizing: The Difference And Best Examples


Trending articles.

Are you frequently confused about the distinction between paraphrasing and summarizing and their purpose?

Paraphrasing and summarizing text are significant assets in writing that can help you create engaging and efficient content.

And each of these techniques has a different yet vital purpose in the writing process. Unfortunately, people often find it hard to distinguish their differences.

Not to mention that plagiarized and summarized content is allowed and acceptable only if it is not plagiarized in any way.

Thus, today we'll go through the critical distinctions between the paraphrasing and summarizing techniques and when and how to apply each writing strategy utilizing examples of each.

Let's begin!

Paraphrasing vs Summarizing — Definitions


Paraphrasing means reading the text and putting it in your own words without changing the meaning of the original text. 

This action doesn't allow copy-pasting original text in any way — copy-pasted text is considered plagiarism unless you use it as a citation. 

What is the length of the paraphrased text?

The paraphrased version of the text is almost the same length or a little shorter than the original.

When to use paraphrasing?

You can use the paraphrasing writing technique when:

  • You want to use someone else's writing for your reference .
  • You want to avoid quotations . 
  • When the idea is more important than writing style .
  • When you need to improve the readability of your content .

Here is an example of what original vs paraphrased text looks like:

summary paraphrasing example

In simple words, paraphrasing is putting someone else's writing in your own words and thought s. 


When you want to get the main idea of a piece of writing, you can use the summarizing technique.

Summarizing is brief information of the original text in your own words that only includes the essential parts. 

What is the length of the summarized text?

The summary of the text is a lot shorter than the original . This is because it leaves out the meaning of the text and includes only the main idea or the most critical information.

When to use summarizing?

Here are some tips on when to use the summarizing technique:

  • When you need to pick out only the writer's main ideas .
  • When you need an overview of the whole piece .
  • When you need to simplify the text .
  • When only the most important parts of the text need to be discussed.

Here is an example of what original text vs summarized text looks like:

summary paraphrasing example

Summarizing involves extracting the original text's main ideas and compressing them into a clear overview.

Now that we know what definitions of each technique are let's discuss paraphrasing vs summarizing differences.

Paraphrasing vs Summarizing — Differences

Here are the 3 primary differences between paraphrasing and summarizing writing techniques:

  • Paraphrasing is rewriting a text in your own words while summarizing is writing the most important parts of a piece in your own words .
  • Paraphrasing has the same or a little shorter text length than the original one, while summarizing is much more concise than the original .
  • You can use paraphrasing to make the original content easier to understand , while summarizing is used to mention only the most important points without any explanation .

Here is what the comparison between paraphrased and summarized text looks like:

summary paraphrasing example

When To Paraphrase and When To Summarize?

When paraphrasing, you put someone else's ideas into your own words.

Let's observe the following statement and possible 3 paraphrasing outcomes. 

summary paraphrasing example

In the example, paraphrasing includes all the details of the original text, the idea, and the impression you want to trigger with your audience, but in your own style .

On the other hand, when you are summarizing, you want to get a shorter version of the original text .

Let’s take a look at the same example.

summary paraphrasing example

Together quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing are the leading writing techniques when mentioning sources in your content . 

When deciding which to use, you should first think about what kind of content you want to write. 

For example, literature reviews and science reports are mostly just summaries. But conversely, all three techniques you can use in argumentative essays.

Even though paraphrasing and summarizing are important, you shouldn't rely on them too much, either. The most important thing is your opinion on the subject .

Let's move on and check the paraphrasing vs summarizing examples. 

Paraphrasing vs Summarizing Examples 

How to paraphrase.

When you paraphrase, keep these 3 things in mind:

  • You must provide a reference .
  • Use your language style when paraphrasing. 
  • Changing just a few words here and there is not paraphrasing . 

The lack of paraphrasing words is just a lack of synonyms, nothing more. It has nothing to do with creativity.

Think about how the ideas fit with what you already know. Then, try some of the following tips to paraphrase with ease:

  • Take notes of the original text — Pull the most critical details from the storyline you need to paraphrase. 

summary paraphrasing example

  • Make full sentences from ideas — Create words around those key points in your own style.

summary paraphrasing example

  • Provide a reference — If you have statistical or research data, mention the author or the literature you used for your statement.

summary paraphrasing example

  • Analyze — The paraphrasing outcome will be more authentic and genuine by providing feedback, expressing your thoughts, or adding your own ideas. 

summary paraphrasing example

  • Not every word needs to be changed — Keep the most important words the same for clarity's sake (e.g., autism, culture, children). But don't use whole phrases unless they are common in your field (e.g., psychogenic disorder).

summary paraphrasing example

Pro Tip: Nowadays, it is not so uncommon for writers to utilize paraphrasing tools such as TextCortex. 

Part of the reason is that paraphrasing tools help overcome writer’s block and boost creativity.

For instance, to paraphrase sentences or entire paragraphs with TextCortex, you must select the text you want to rewrite, click on the logo , and click on the ‘ Paraphrase ’ feature.

You can paraphrase the original output multiple times until you get the desired output. Additionally, TextCortex will provide you with several different paraphrasing variants for each generation.

How To Summarize?

The summary goes a lot further than a point-by-point paraphrasing. 

And to help you understand better, we will be using the following part of the article “ Fairytales much older than previously thought, say researchers ”:

summary paraphrasing example

When you want to summarize the text, you need to:

  • Understand the context — Get the overall idea of the text you want to transform into a shorter version of the text. In the given example, the text talks about fairytales that have been around since the Bronze Age and when and where this information comes from.
  • Pull out primary takeaways — Gather all relevant key points of the text and add a piece of brief information about them.

summary paraphrasing example

  • Create a storytelling brief — It is not enough just to list the key elements. Instead, use storytelling technique s to transform the main takeaways into a compelling but short version of the original text.

summary paraphrasing example

  •   A summary has to be shorter than the original text — The summary includes only essential points of the text, not the details.

summary paraphrasing example

Most people get confused when comparing paraphrasing and summarizing because those two writing techniques don’t exclude each other.

In simple words, a summary of the text can be paraphrased, and vice versa. 

Final Thoughts

As you can notice, paraphrasing and summarizing techniques are not as hard as they seem. And you probably use both in your regular conversations every day.

However, it becomes more official when it comes to writing articles, essays, and more. 

This is due to plagiarism rules — content labeled as plagiarism can be heavily penalized and damage your writing career before it even starts to blossom.

And if you are planning to become a writer or are a newbie that is not so confident in these writing techniques, we suggest you start utilizing the TextCortex rewriting extension .

Our Chrome extension can help you:

  • Manage your writing faster .
  • Produce more content in less time .
  • Rewrite sentences and paragraphs in bulk.
  • Transform bullets to emails .
  • Expand your text for more information.
  • Write blog posts from a single sentence .
  • Assist you on more than 30 platforms .

In addition, with the Chrome rewriting extension, you will gain access to the TextCortex web application that can help you to write:

  • Blog articles, 
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Are you ready to start paraphrasing with ease?

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Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

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Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

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:

In his famous and influential work The Interpretation of Dreams , Sigmund Freud argues that dreams are the "royal road to the unconscious" (page #), expressing in coded imagery the dreamer's unfulfilled wishes through a process known as the "dream-work" (page #). According to Freud, actual but unacceptable desires are censored internally and subjected to coding through layers of condensation and displacement before emerging in a kind of rebus puzzle in the dream itself (page #).

How to use quotations, paraphrases, and summaries

Practice summarizing the essay found here , using paraphrases and quotations as you go. It might be helpful to follow these steps:

  • Read the entire text, noting the key points and main ideas.
  • Summarize in your own words what the single main idea of the essay is.
  • Paraphrase important supporting points that come up in the essay.
  • Consider any words, phrases, or brief passages that you believe should be quoted directly.

There are several ways to integrate quotations into your text. Often, a short quotation works well when integrated into a sentence. Longer quotations can stand alone. Remember that quoting should be done only sparingly; be sure that you have a good reason to include a direct quotation when you decide to do so. You'll find guidelines for citing sources and punctuating citations at our documentation guide pages.

summary paraphrasing example

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Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting

How to summarize.

Summarizing involves condensing the writer’s ideas into their essence using your own words . Use summaries when you want to briefly discuss an extended section of a text. A summary is your "sum" of the writer’s thinking. Summaries vary in length, but are rarely more than twenty percent of the length of the original. Summaries also include abstracts, but abstracts are a different style of writing (see the WaLC’s website for more advice on those.) When you need to summarize: 1. Read the section straight through from beginning to end. Look up unfamiliar words. Make sure you understand what you are reading. You cannot translate information you do not understand. 2. Minimize the screen, or turn the text over. Without looking at the original , write your summed up understanding of the section. (Not peeking at the text forces you to use your own words.) 3. Read the original text a second time to check the accuracy of your rewording. Your new sentences will become the body of your summary. 4. Using your new sentences, write a first draft of your summary. 5. Begin your summary with the original writer’s name, for example, in APA you might write: According to Deford (2000),....(See page 4 for examples from various formats.) 6. Check your draft against the original source: • Have you accurately communicated the main idea and supporting points? • Have you followed the same order or sequence of ideas that the original writer used? • Have you discussed the author’s most important concepts or terms in your own words? • Would your summary make sense to a reader other than yourself, especially one who has not read the original source but wants to understand what it says?

7. Revise and recheck against the original. Record the page number(s) in case you need them later.

How to Paraphrase

When you paraphrase effectively, you are restating the writer’s words in your own words without condensing anything . Paraphrasing works well for discussing one point from an article or book. A good paraphrase is roughly equivalent in length to the original.

When you need to paraphrase: 1. Read the section carefully. Look up unfamiliar words. 2. Turn the original over and write down your understanding of the text. Consider beginning your paraphrase with the writer’s name, for example: "In Talk, Marguerite Del Guidice argues that..." 3. Reread the original and check your rephrasing for accuracy. Rearranging the writer’s words or just changing a few words is not paraphrasing . 4. Record the page number(s) for your in-text citation if required. All paraphrases must be cited .

How to Quote

When you quote, you are transcribing the writer’s words completely and accurately . Quoting does not work well if you use it only because you find it hard to paraphrase a writer’s material. Quoting does work well when the writer has made his or her point so articulately that your point is strengthened by including a quotation. Follow the guidelines in any writer’s handbook to learn the various ways of introducing quotations. ALL QUOTATIONS MUST BE INTRODUCED. Try introducing your quotation with the writer’s name, and be sure to enclose all quoted material within quotation marks. Page numbers stand outside the quotation marks but inside the period. Several examples follow: MLA formatting

Karen Elizabeth Gordon writes in her introduction to The Well-Tempered Sentence, "However frenzied or disarrayed or complicated your thoughts may be, punctuation tempers them and sends signals to your reader about how to take them in" (ix). APA formatting

Gordon (1993) says of the exclamation point, "What a wild, reckless, willful invention! How could we possibly live without it! Who needs words when we have this flasher!" (p. 1).

Turabian formatting

Karen Elizabeth Gordon thinks of the comma as "a delicate kink in time, a pause within a sentence, a chance to catch your breath."1 [At the bottom of the page, the following footnote would appear : 1. Karen Elizabeth Gordon, The New Well-Tempered Sentence: A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993), 21.]

Remember, quote strategically to emphasize your point and NEVER quote simply because you are unwilling to do the hard work of paraphrasing or discussing the material.

EXCEPTION: If you are writing a paper for a literature class , the guidelines are different. Frequent quoting of your primary source (story, poem, novel, creative essay, or play) is important to provide your reader with direct evidence. In other words, you are bringing pertinent parts of the text into your paper to show that your interpretation is sound and based on the writer's actual words. For more detailed information on writing about literature, see our Literary Papers resource.

Remember, your reader (i.e., your professor) is truly engaged and wants to learn what you have discovered. Take the time to make your research interesting and legitimate.

Examples of Summarizing, Paraphrasing and Quoting

Original text from the Journal of Sport Management:

One of the most contentious debates surrounding the indirect effects of athletics concerns its impact upon non-athletic gifts to universities. The major improvements of programs at Northwestern in 1995 and Georgia Tech in 1991 prompted speculation and some anecdotal evidence supporting the argument that athletic success contributes to additional general giving. However, this evidence and the proposition behind it has often met strong rebuttal. The reasons behind the challenges are easy to understand; the likely impacts of athletics on general giving are much harder to unambiguously assess than are the types of effects we have discussed to date (athletic department revenues and expenses, media coverage). Moreover, the cause-effect relationships can be quite ambiguous. Some benefactors are interested in both athletics and general university welfare but have a fixed amount of money they are willing to donate. In such cases, increased athletic success may help steer these donors toward athletic giving and away from general gifts. On the other hand, greater exposure for a university, whatever its source, may help spur giving across many fronts. The effect that is expected to dominate (athletic vs. general giving) cannot be theoretically determined. Comparisons across empirical studies are complicated by the use of different dependent variables, use of different variables to account for athletic success, different control variables, and a lack of investigation of lag relationships. For example, Baade and Sundberg (1996) try to explain gifts per alumni for 167 schools over an eighteen-year period, Grimes and Chressanthis (1994) consider annual gifts for one school over a thirty-year time frame, and McCormick and Tinsley (1990) estimate the relationship between athletic gifts and general giving. Even if effects are determined using comparable methods for different institutions, the answer as to whether athletic success and athletic giving reduce or increase general giving may depend on the specific university in question as well as the specific circumstances surrounding its athletic success (e.g., how "big" and how novel the success was.). (Goff, 2000, pp. 92-93)

Sample Summary: According to Goff (2000), there is no conclusive evidence about the relationship between athletic success and general donations to universities. Athletic success increases a university‘s exposure, which may attract general gifts, or may instead increase donations only to athletics, to the detriment of other areas. Determining the effect athletic success has on general giving has proved to be challenging and occasionally controversial. Goff explains there is no consistent method for studying this phenomenon, and that the unique variables at different schools further complicate the results of any study.

Sample Paraphrase of Paragraph 2: Goff (2000) points out that athletic success may initiate increased giving to the university as a whole, but some benefactors may only have an allotted amount of money for such purposes. In the event that a benefactor is equally interested in the university’s athletic achievements and the university as a whole, he or she could choose to donate money in either direction. Since the athletic success highlighted the athletic department, a benefactor could naturally gravitate toward furthering the success of that department. In contrast, the athletic success also reflected well on the university as a whole, and a benefactor could therefore choose to donate money to one or more university departments. The effect athletic success has on general giving is thus highly variable and difficult to study.

Sample Quotations: Goff (2000) contends that "one of the most contentious debates surrounding the indirect effects of athletics concerns its impact upon non-athletic gifts to universities" (p. 92). Goff (2000) maintains that when studying athletic success and general gifts, "the cause-effect relationships can be quite ambiguous." (p. 92).

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    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

  14. Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting

    Using your new sentences, write a first draft of your summary. 5. Begin your summary with the original writer's name, for example, in APA you might write: