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This resource provides guidelines for paraphrasing and summarizing the sources you have researched.
Whether you are writing for the workplace or for academic purposes, you will need to research and incorporate the writing of others into your own texts. Two unavoidable steps in that process are paraphrasing (changing the language into your own) and summarizing (getting rid of smaller details and leaving only the primary points). These steps are necessary for three reasons.
First, if you used the original writer’s language without any changes, it limits your own learning; by paraphrasing and summarizing, you make a piece of information your own, and you understand it better.
Second, the original writers did not write for the audiences you are targeting; there are inevitably contents and language choices that will not necessarily work for your audience. Third, what authors write is considered to be their property, just like a coat or a car; by copying it (without giving credit), you can be accused of plagiarism.
Summarizing and paraphrasing are frequently used together, but not always. The following will give you some basic information on paraphrasing and summarizing, and then you will have the chance to reflect on appropriate paraphrasing and summarizing yourself.
As explained above, paraphrasing is making different word choices and re-arranging words in such a way that maintains the same meaning, but sounds different enough that readers will not be reminded of the original writer’s words. Here is an example, followed by inadequate and adequate paraphrases:
Example: The current constitutional debate over heavy metal rock and gangsta rap music is not just about the explicit language but also advocacy, an act of incitement to violence.
Inadequate paraphrase: Today’s constitutional debate about gangsta rap and heavy metal rock is not just about obscene language but also advocacy and incitement of acts of violence.
Adequate paraphrase: Lyrics in some rap and heavy metal songs that appear to promote violence, along with concerns about obscenity, have generated a constitutional debate over popular music.
In the inadequate paraphrase, the meaning of the original is altered somewhat: it claims that the debate is about advocacy AND violence, but it is supposed to be about advocacy FOR violence. Also, too few of the words have been changed, and the order of the sentence remains essentially the same. In the second attempt at paraphrasing, enough changes have been made so that readers would not feel that they are reading somebody else’s words.
When you are paraphrasing, there are a number of strategies you can apply:
- Locate the individual statements or major idea units in the original.
- Change the sentence structure and the order of major ideas, while maintaining the logical connections among them. For example, if the author you are paraphrasing presents a generalization and then backs it up with an example, try using the example as a lead-in to the generalization. For an individual sentence, try to relocate a phrase from the beginning of the sentence to a position near the end, or vice versa.
- Substitute words in the original with synonyms, making sure the language in your paraphrase is appropriate for your audience.
- Combine or divide sentences as necessary.
- Use direct quotations from the original sporadically, limiting yourself to quotations of the most striking or interesting language. Do not quote very plainly stated passages.
- Compare the paraphrase to the original to ensure that the rewording is sufficient and the meaning has been preserved.
- Weave the paraphrase into your essay.
- Document the paraphrase—give formal credit to the original writer(s).*
* Kennedy, M.L. & Smith, H.M. (2000). Reading and Writing in the Academic Community . New York, NY: Prentice Hall College Division.
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- Paraphrasing vs. Quoting
APA 7: Paraphrasing vs. Quoting
- About Citations
- In-Text Citations
- Formatting the Paper
- Formatting the Reference List
- Web Sources
Paraphrasing vs. Directly Quoting
Paraphrase means to describe the ideas and words of another author in your own words .
- Your paraphrase must be sufficiently distinct from the original passage. Paraphrasing is not simply changing a word or two or rearranging the author's sentences (you might as well use the original passage in quotation marks).
- An effective paraphrase will convey the author's facts or conclusions accurately but in your own unique style.
- Learn more about paraphrasing from the Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University.
Once you write a paraphrase, you must cite the original source of your information. Some students believe that it is only necessary to cite a source if they use a direct quote. Not true! Putting someone else's idea into your own words does not turn it into your own work. You must give the original author credit even when you paraphrase. Paraphrasing well shows that you understand the meaning of the original passage.
To directly quote means to use the exact words and phrases of an author or creator.
- Quotes must be reproduced word for word, with quotation marks " " around quotes of less than 40 words.
- For long passages, use a block format (more on that below).
- Most instructors will accept a few direct quotes in your paper, especially if the author defines a term or theory. In most cases, however, instructors want you to demonstrate how much you understand a work by putting the ideas in your own words.
Need practice? Check out this guide from the American Psychological Association .
What's Included in This Guide?
Citing with Page Numbers
Citing Without Page Numbers
While it is not necessary to include a page number or paragraph number when paraphrasing or summarizing another’s ideas, you can include a page or paragraph number for clarity. For additional information, see The Publication Manual, p. 269. We recommend that you check with your instructor for their requirement.
- Use direct quotes sparingly. You’ll want to paraphrase sources in your own writing style.
- Reproduce quotations exactly word for word.
- Quotations of less than 40 words are enclosed by “double quotation marks” and incorporated into the text of your paragraph.
- In the citation, include the author’s last name, publication year, and page or paragraph number.
- For quotations over 40 words, use a block quotation following the guidelines below .
Citing Specific Parts of a Text or Exact Quotes – Sources with Page Numbers
When citing the printed original or the exact copy of a document (i.e., the .pdf version), include the page number when directly quoting. If you place your quote at the end of a sentence, end the quotation with double quotes, add the citation, then end the sentence with a period.
Citing Specific Parts of a Text or Exact Quotes - Sources Without Page Numbers
Sometimes page numbers are unavailable, such as on a web page or the text version of an article. Instead of p. for “page number,” count the paragraphs and use para. with the paragraph number. For example:
(Jones, 2017, para. 5)
For sources with headings, refer to the closest section heading and then count the paragraphs:
(Jones, 2017, Methods section) OR (Jones, 2017, Methods section, para. 6)
To create a block quotation (text of 40 words or more)
- Start the quote on a new line indented one tab or five spaces
- Indent the entire block of text
- Double-space the entire block; make sure there are no extra blank lines before or after the block
- Do not use quotation marks around the quote
- To cite, include the author and date in the narrative before the quotation and end the block with the page number OR cite in parenthesis at the end of the block quote
- DON'T end the quotation with a period
- See The Publication Manual, pp. 272-273 for more information
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APA Style Guide: When, Why, & How to Cite
- Getting Started
- When, Why, & How to Cite
- Formatting Your Paper in APA
- Citations & Bibliography
When Should I Cite??
Bottom line, you should cite any time you are giving ideas that are not your own.
Despite what you may think, it's perfectly fine to give an idea in a paper that isn't yours to help support your own thoughts/ideas or arguments. Just be sure to acknowledge who came up with the idea, and where you found the source by using an in-text citation and the complete source information in the bibliography.
In fact, professors like when you cite others' ideas because it shows that you put thought into your paper and you researched the topic thoroughly!
- Plagiarism Overview at the Purdue OWL Overview of what plagiarism is and how to avoid it.
- Research and Citation Resources at Purdue OWL One of the the most comprehensive resources available. Navigate to what you are looking for using the "search the OWL" Search box in the upper left hand column.
Why is it Important to Cite Your Sources for Your Research Papers?
- It gives credit to the author or creator
- It enables a reader to locate the source you cited.
- It Illustrates your ability to locate & evaluate appropriate sources
- It provides evidence for the arguments and conclusions in your paper
- It prevents plagiarism and copyright infringement
How should I cite? Citing, Paraphrasing and Summarizing
There are three ways in which you can provide information from a source: paraphrasing, quoting or summarizing. All three of these methods require an in-text citation at the end of the statement:
Quoting: When you take a direct line from any source (whether it's a book, article, song and so on) you are quoting.
Paraphrasing: When you are taking something from a source and putting it in your own words to clarify a passage.
Summarizing: Like paraphrasing, you are taking something from a source and putting it in your own words, but in this case you are just going over the main points of the passage.
This short video from UCR offers some great ways to think about putting a source in your own words:
No matter what format you choose (summarizing, paraphrasing, or quoting), you should always to put an in-text citation within your text at the end of your quote/paraphrase/summary.
In the MLA format, it should include the author(s) last name, followed by the page numbers, in parenthesis at the end of your quote, paraphrase or summary (Smith 145-200).
If you mention the Smith in the beginning of the sentence, just include the page numbers where the source is found (145-200).\
As always, there are variations. If you're not sure, contact us or consult OWL Purdue page on in-text citations for your particular style.
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Paraphrasing means taking the ideas and information from an original source and writing it in your own words. Paraphrasing helps you understand a resource by interpreting and rewording it in your own voice. It also reduces direct quotations and keeps your voice in your writing. This makes your papers more authentic and easier to read.
Like direct quotations, a paraphrase must include a citation giving credit to the original source.
- Read through the original passage several times to fully understand its meaning.
- Write the main ideas and key words of the passage. Then, write alternate ways of conveying the same idea with different words.
- Note any unique words or phrases in the original passage that would lose their meaning if you re-wrote them. You can incorporate them into your paraphrase as direct quotations, with quotation marks around them.
- Rewrite the sentence structure, word order and grammar used in the original source. This gives your writing a different voice.
Use these websites and articles for more information about paraphrasing:
- Critical Skills: Paraphrasing This link opens in a new window - Salem Press Encyclopedia
- Paraphrase: Write It in Your Own Words This link opens in a new window - Purdue OWL
- Paraphrasing This link opens in a new window - APA Style
- Paraphrasing This link opens in a new window - (San José State University)
This information is intended to be a guideline, not expert advice. Always speak to your instructor about citation styles and paper formats for your course.
For help with citations and more, visit Academic Support . To access Academic Support, visit your Brightspace course and select Tutoring and Mentoring from the Academic Support pulldown menu. Then, select 24/7 Drop-In Tutoring from the top navigation menu.
Visit these guides for more information:
- How do I access Academic Support from Brightspace? This link opens in a new window
- How do online students submit a paper for feedback? This link opens in a new window
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Paraphrasing is summarizing someone else's original ideas or findings in your own words. Use paraphrasing to avoid excessive use of quotations or to combine multiple ideas or findings into a single sentence.
Always cite the ideas or findings of others even when paraphrasing them in your own words. It is plagiarism to paraphrase someone else's ideas or findings without giving them credit.
Example of a Paraphrase
Quote: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." (Kennedy, Inaugural Address , 1961)
Paraphrase: Kennedy advised us to give back to our country, not just take from it. (1961, Inaugural Address )
How to Paraphrase
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