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This LIbGuide has three main objectives: 1. Demonstrate with clear definitions the differences between summarizing, paraphrasing and quoting. 2. Provide strategies and examples to show students how to incorporate research in their writing. 3. Encourage


Summarizing, paraphrasing and quoting are three terms often used by instructors when they ask students to integrate research and evidence in their writing. Students often struggle with having a balance of these three element; some students tend to quote too much while others may begin to blur the lines between summarizing and paraphrasing.

Knowing when to summarize, paraphrase and quote can make your writing more effective, and really make your writing truly yours. This Libguide will provide you with definitions, examples, and tips to balance your own words and those of your sources. 


SUMMARY: You use your own words to provide a more general view of the main ideas of a source.


PARAPHRASE: You use your own words to provide a view of a main idea or a valuable detail of a source. This is another alternative to quoting.


QUOTE: Use exact words from the source, while also giving credit to the author.

SUMMARY: You must point out the original source using signal phrases and an in-text citation. Summarize the main ideas in your own words.


PARAPHRASE: You must point out the original source using signal phrases and an in-text citation. Paraphrase in your own words and your own voice.


QUOTE: You must use signal phrases, quotation marks, and an in-text citation. You must use the exact words of the author and reflect any changes that you make to the quote.

SUMMARY: Must be shorter than the original text. Remember that you are presenting main ideas, not details.


PARAPHRASE: Must be about the same length as the specific part you are paraphrasing.


QUOTE: Must be the exact words enclosed with quotation marks. If you change a quote by adding words use brackets ([abc]). If you delete some words use ellipses (). 

SUMMARY: Use different ways to introduce your source and keep your summary short. You must always have an in-text citation at the end of your summary.


PARAPHRASE: Use different ways to introduce your source in your paraphrasing. You still need an in-text citation. There different ways to enter an in-text citation.


QUOTE: There are special formatting guidelines for quotes:

  • Less than 40 words – use quotation marks and in-text citation
  • More than 40 words – use a block format and in-text citation

SUMMARY: Your discussion, reasoning, or interpretation of why this summary is relevant to your argument should be clearly separate from the summary.


PARAPHRASE: You still need to discuss how your paraphrase is related to your argument.


QUOTE: You need to discuss the quote and how it relates to your argument



  1. Avoid plagiarism
  2. Understand what you read
  3. Support what you are claiming
  4. Speak to your audience
  5. Show variation in your writing
  6. Become a better writer



Check out these guides for additional information:



The Role-Play Test