Appendix B: Writing & Research Skills

60 Paraphrasing and Summarizing

Robin Jeffrey

While quoting may be the first thing that many people think of when they think about integrating sources, paraphrasing, summarizing, and citing data are also ways to incorporate information from outside materials into your essays or projects.



Paraphrases allow you to describe specific information from a source (ideas from a paragraph or several consecutive paragraphs) in your own words. They are like translations of an author’s original idea. Paraphrases often include attributive tags or signal phrases to let your readers know where the paraphrased material begins. With this move, you retain the detail of the original thought, but you express it in your own way. The following are some facts that will help you better make this rhetorical move:

  • Paraphrases of the text should be expressed in your own words, with your own sentence structure, in your own way. You should not simply “word swap”, that is, replace a few words from the original with synonyms.
  • If you must use a few of the author’s words within your paraphrase,  they must have quotation marks around them.
  • Paraphrases should be followed by parenthetical citations.
  • As with a quote, you need to explain to your reader why the paraphrased material is significant to the point you are making in your paper.



Summaries allow you to describe general ideas from a source. Summaries are shorter than the original text, and you do not express detailed information as you would with a paraphrase. The following are some tips to apply when summarizing:

  • Any summaries of the text should not include direct wording from the original source. All text should be in your words, though the ideas are those of the original author.
  • A signal phrase should let your readers know where the summarized material begins.
  • If you are offering a general summary of an entire article, there is no need to cite a specific page number.


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