Paraphrasing, Summarizing, Quoting: What's the Difference?

Paraphrasing, Summarizing, Quoting: What's the Difference?

Is there any more severe sin than plagiarizing today? Everyone somehow related to writing is scared of making a mistake that may lead to plagiarism. It is almost a phobia in the students as an accusation in copying the ideas may even result in falling into a trap and expulsion from school. For sure, such services as give an excellent solution to the problem. A quick scanning of the text gives a result that definitely shows whether it is original. Using it, you will always know if there is any reason to fear. Still, keeping in mind essential things about paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting, you will also avoid all issues in your writing.

What Should You Do Not to Plagiarize: Quote, Summarize, or Paraphrase?

If you need to include the ideas of other researchers into your article, you can make use of such techniques as using quotes, summarizing, and paraphrasing the evidence. Make sure that all the sources you use are credible.

So, first of all, what is the difference between summarizing and paraphrasing?

Paraphrase vs Summarize

To make a summary means to explain some idea in brief. You do not change the original meaning, but give an interpretation in a shortened form. Actually, it is an art! Proper summarizing requires solid skills. You have to make a key point and tie all the ideas in a single text. A well-arranged summary proves that the author has gained full understanding of the section he is using.

To paraphrase means to rearrange the sentences, replace the vocabulary, and use your own manner of writing to present the idea from the original source. Actually, it is completing a new sentence without changing a perspective of the author. Putting a citation at the end of the paraphrased section, you can make borrowing ideas academically acceptable and free of plagiarism.

NB: both a summary and a paraphrased text should contain an indication of the source with its full details in the works cited page and a mandatory in-text reference.

In short, the difference between paraphrasing and summarizing is the following:

  1. A summary is a brief synopsis without any change in the original meaning. Paraphrasing is rewriting the text from the original without any change in the original meaning.
  2. A summary uses only the key points of the original text. Paraphrasing implies taking the whole text and presenting it in a different style or manner.
  3. A summary is typically shorter than the original text. The length of the paraphrased text can be either shorter or longer than the initial one.

How is a paraphrase similar to a summary? Actually, both enable the writers use the ideas of other researchers or writers in their own texts. Both of them help the writer present ideas in the manner understandable for the readers and avoid plagiarism.

Quotation vs Paraphrase

What is a paraphrase? It is using your own words to present the words and ideas of other writers.

  • The original section should be absolutely different from your paraphrased version.
  • The style of writing should be unique.
  • All ideas and views of the author should be preserved with great accuracy.

Keep in mind that paraphrasing does not mean that now you are the author of the text. It is wrong to believe that only direct quotes require citing a source! Although the section looks original, you borrowed the ideas and you have to give credit to the author! Note that good paraphrasing shows that you have no problem, understanding the original meaning of the text.

What does it mean to use direct quoting? It is using the exact phrases and words of the author with reference to the source.

  • There should be no change in the original text.
  • You reproduce the text word for word.
  • If a quote contains less than 40 words, it requires quotation marks around it. If it is longer than that, it requires a block format.

It is reasonable to use direct quotes if the assignment implies defining a certain theory or term. However, in some academic tasks, it is necessary to present ideas in your own words to demonstrate that you do understand all the ideas.

High school writing accepts quoting in writing, but college and university level writing standards refer to preferable paraphrasing. High quality assignments may contain no direct quotes at all. Instead, they refer to the sources, using paraphrased content.

What can you quote directly?

  • numerical data
  • statistics
  • giving definitions
  • textual evidence (fiction, poems, stories)
  • reasoning in court cases and decisions of judges.

Choosing between quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing, you should avoid overquoting. It is one of the most common problems in completing academic assignments. University level writing requires paraphrasing and summarizing instead of quoting.

Tips on Strategies for Making an Effective Summary

What does summarize mean? This demanding task may be complicated for the students of all levels. It requires a solid skill of analyzing information to understand which details can be omitted and which of them are crucially important.

  1. Check whether all important aspects are included.
  2. Exclude the information which is not really important although it may be interesting for the readers. Extra descriptions or supporting details are not needed.
  3. Preserve the order of giving details in the text.
  4. Keep the key vocabulary from the source.
  5. Do not repeat the details.
  6. Combine similar ideas.
  7. Instead of lists, use categorization (fruit instead of apples, pears, and bananas).

All in all, academic writing always implies taking ideas from other sources and it is essential to do that according to the principles of academic integrity. In some cases, it is more appropriate to use direct quoting, while in others, summaries or paraphrasing serve the writers much better. Make a choice of techniques, taking into account all the tips we have given to you.

In short, you should summarize when you need to give an overview of the topic, present the key ideas, or maintain the background of the problem. It is better to paraphrase when you need to explain a particular point, clarify a text passage, or report some data. Quoting is preferable when you need to support your arguments with the words of other author, highlight powerful passages, compare certain opinions, or disagree with a certain idea.

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