Paraphrasing & Summarizing


Paraphrase: Write it in Your Own Words


A paraphrase is...your own rendition of essential information and ideas expressed by someone else, presented in a new form.


·   One legitimate way (when accompanied by accurate documentation) to borrow from a source.

·   A more detailed restatement than a summary, which focuses concisely on a single main idea.


Paraphrasing is a valuable skill because...


·   It is better than quoting information from an undistinguished passage.

·   It helps you control the temptation to quote too much.

·   The mental process required for successful paraphrasing helps you to grasp the full meaning of the original.


5 Steps to Effective Paraphrasing


1.   Reread the original passage until you understand its full meaning.

2.   Set the original aside, and write your paraphrase on a note card.

3.   Jot down a few words below your paraphrase to remind you later how you envision using this material. At the top of the note card, write a key word or phrase to indicate the subject of your paraphrase.

4.   Check your rendition with the original to make sure that your version accurately expresses all the essential information in a new form.

5.   Use quotation marks to identify any unique term or phraseology you have borrowed exactly from the source.


What is Paraphrasing?


Paraphrasing is a way for you to smoothly integrate the ideas of someone else into your own essay. When a writer paraphrases a section from a source (for instance, when a student paraphrases a few sentences from a newspaper article to use in his research paper), what he is actually doing is turning the original text into his own words . He's not adding his own opinion, and he's not using the original wording: he's "translating" the original text into his own language, to flow better with his own writing.


A paraphrase is an accurate, thorough restatement of the original text in your own words. It will actually be about as long as the original work, and it will most certainly retain all of the original ideas. Paraphrases, when they appear within a paper, must be cited, because they are the author's ideas that come from the original work, not your own ideas.


When to Paraphrase

•   When the ideas are more important than the author's authority or style

•   When the original language isn't particularly memorable, but the ideas are

•   When the original language is too difficult to understand (for instance, when the particular jargon or complexity of the original work is so difficult to understand that you need to paraphrase it so that the meaning is immediately clear)


When to Quote Instead of Paraphrase


•   When the wording of the original is memorable or vivid and you can't re-write it to sound any better

•   When the exact words of an authority would lend support to your own ideas

•   When you want to draw attention to the author's opinion, especially


Some examples to compare


The original passage:

Students frequently overuse direct quotation in 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, James D. Writing Research Papers. 2nd ed. (1976): 46-47.

A legitimate paraphrase:

In research papers students often quote excessively, failing to keep quoted material down to a desirable level. Since the problem usually originates during note taking, it is essential to minimize the material recorded verbatim (Lester 46-47).

An acceptable summary:

Students should take just a few notes in direct quotation from sources to help minimize the amount of quoted material in a research paper (Lester 46-47).

A plagiarized version:

Students often use too many direct quotations when they take notes, resulting in too many of them in the final research paper. In fact, probably only about 10% of the final copy should consist of directly quoted material. So it is important to limit the amount of source material copied while taking notes.