Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing are all different ways of including the ideas of others into your assignments. Quoting passages allows you to share the specific words and phrases of another author, while paraphrasing and summarizing allow you to show your understanding and interpretation of a text. Either way, referring to outside sources makes your own ideas and your paper more credible. Also, properly quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing are  great ways to avoid plagiarism.

What are the differences?

Quoting

  • involves copying short sentences or passages from the original text word-for-word
  • places copied wording within “quotation marks” 
  • includes an in-text citation that states the author’s last name, the publication year, and the page or paragraph number: (Lee, 2016, p. 1)

Paraphrasing

  • involves putting a section of a text into your own words
  • changes the words and phrasing of the original text, but keeps the original meaning of the text
  • includes an in-text citation that states the author’s last name and the publication year: (Lee, 2016)

Summarizing

  • involves stating the main ideas and findings of a text into your own words
  • presents a general overview, so is usually much shorter than the original text
  • includes an in-text citation that states the author’s last name and the publication year: (Lee, 2016)

Quoting is when you repeat an author's work word-for-word. Direct quotes are placed within quotation marks (" ") and are cited using an in-text citation. For example:

“The systematic development of literacy and schooling meant a new division in society, between the educated and the uneducated” (Cook-Gumperz, 1986, p. 27).

If you are quoting longer passages (more than 40 words), please see our Block Quotation guide.

Use a Quote…

  • when the author's words convey a powerful meaning
  • when you cannot possibly say the information any better
  • to introduce an author's position that you want to discuss
  • to support claims in your writing or provide evidence for the points you are making

How to Quote:

If you want to include a quotation into your writing, make sure to introduce, cite, and explain the quotation. This technique is known as the ICE method.

Introduce

Introduce your quotes by stating the author’s last name, any necessary background information, and a signal verb. According to APA guidelines, signal verbs should be written in the past tense.

For example:

As stated by Cormac McCarthy in his 2006 novel The Road: "You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget" (p. 12).

Cite

Provide in-text citations for all quotes. For each quotation, include the author’s last name, the year the text was published, and the page number (p. #) or paragraph number (para. #) the quote was found on. Place every quotation between quotation marks (" ") and copy the text word-for-word, including the text’s original punctuation and capital letters.

For help with citing properly, see our Citing Within Your Paper guide.

Explain

Make sure to explain your quotations. Provide explanation or insight as to why this quotation is important, or comment on the importance of the quotation. To help with your explanation, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is this quote saying?
  • How does this information add to what I am trying to prove in this paragraph?
  • Why is it important to what I am saying? What is its significance?
  • What am I trying to show or prove with this information?

Never leave any room for interpretation. It is your responsibility as the writer to explain the quoted information for your reader.

Paraphrasing is when you use your own words to express someone else's message or ideas. When you paraphrase, you keep the same meaning of the original text, but you use different words and phrasing to convey that meaning. For example:

Original paragraph from Nancy Woloch's book, Women and the American Experience: A Concise History:

“The feminization of clerical work and teaching by the turn of the century reflected the growth of business and public education. It also reflected limited opportunities elsewhere. Throughout the nineteenth century, stereotyping of work by sex had restricted women's employment. Job options were limited; any field that admitted women attracted a surplus of applicants willing to work for less pay than men would have received. The entry of women into such fields—whether grammar school teaching or office work—drove down wages.”

Paraphrased version:

According to Nancy Woloch (2002) in Women and the American Experience: A Concise History, the “feminization” of jobs in the nineteenth century had two major effects: a lack of employment opportunities for women and inadequate compensation for positions that were available. Thus, while clerical and teaching jobs indicated a boom in these sectors, women were forced to apply for jobs that would pay them less than male workers were paid (p. 170).

Use Paraphrasing…

  • As another option to quoting.
  • To rewrite someone else's ideas without changing the meaning.
  • To express someone else's ideas in your own words.
  • To support claims in your writing.

How to Paraphrase:

  • Read the text carefully. Be sure you understand the text fully.
  • Put the original text aside and write your paraphrase in your own words. Consider each point of the original text, how could you rephrase it? Do not simply replace every third or fourth word of the original passage.
  • Review your paraphrase. Does it reflect the original text but is in your own words and style? Did you include all the main points and essential information?
  • Include an in-text citation that states the author’s last name and the publication year. For example: (Lee, 2016.  Including the page number is optional, but recommended.  
  • Explain why the paraphrased information is important. To do so, ask yourself the following questions:
    • What am I trying to show or prove with this information?
    • Why is it important to what I am saying? What is its significance?
    • How does this information add to what I am trying to prove in this paragraph?

A summary is shortened version of a larger reading. In your summary, you state the main idea in your own words, but specific examples and details are left out.

Use a Summary…

  • when a passage from a source is too long to quote or paraphrase
  • when only the main ideas of a source are relevant to your paper
  • when the details in a text might distract, overwhelm, or confuse readers

How to Summarize:

  • Start by reading the text and highlighting the main points as you read.
  • Reread the text and make notes of the main points, leaving out examples, evidence, etc.
  • Without the text, rewrite your notes in your own words. Restate the main idea at the beginning of your summary plus all major points. Include the conclusion or the final findings of the work.
  • Include an in-text citation that states the author’s last name and the publication year. For example: (Lee, 2016)

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