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Elisa Vargas Library: Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting

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Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting

You can borrow from the works of other writers as you research. Good writers use three strategies – summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting – to blend source materials in with their own, while making sure their own voice is heard.

Source: Valenza, Joyce Kasman.. Power Tools Recharged: 125 Essential Forms and Presentations for Your School Library Information Program. American Library Association, 2004. Developed with Carol H. Rohrback, K-12 Language Arts Coordinator, School District of Springfield Township, Erdenhiem, PA


Summarizing involves putting the main ideas(s) of one or several writers into your own words, including only the main point(s). Once again, it is necessary to attribute summarized ideas to the original source. Summarized ideas are not necessarily presented in the same order as in the original source. Summaries are significantly shorter than the original and take a broad overview of the source material.

 Summarize when:

  • You want to establish background or offer an overview of a topic
  • You want to describe common knowledge (from several sources) abut a topic
  • You want to determine the main ideas of a single source


Quotations are the exact words of an author, copied directly from the source word for word. Quotations must be cited!

Use quotations when:

  • You want to add the power of an author’s words to support your argument
  • You want to disagree with an author’s argument
  • You want to highlight particularly eloquent or powerful phrases or passages
  • You are comparing and contrasting specific points of view
  • You want to note the important research that preceded your own

Weaving Quotes into Your Writing


Effective writers use a variety of techniques to integrate quotations into their text.

When you use a quote in your writing, consider:

  • What am I trying to say?
  • Can a passage from the text say it for me?
  • Have I explained the value of the quote?

Avoid "overquoting.” It is important that your own voice is heard!


Paraphrasing means rephrasing the words of an author, putting her/her thoughts in your own words. A paraphrase can be viewed as a “translation” of the original source. When you paraphrase, you rework the source’s ideas, words, phrases, and sentence structures with your own. Paraphrased text is often, but not always, slightly shorter than the original work. Like quotations, paraphrased material must be followed with in-text documentation and cited on the Works Cited page.

Paraphrase when:

  • You want to avoid plagiarism
  • You want to avoid overusing quotations
  • You want to use your own voice to present information

Paraphrasing is a process. Follow these steps:


1. Read the information you found.

2. As you read, take notes. Write down the main idea, important details, and where you found the information.

3. Think about what you've read.

4. Reread your notes than write the paraphrase in your own words.

5. Cite your source with an in-text citation and at the end of your paper.


When you write a paraphrase, do it your own way; don't just change a couple of words in the original quote. Vary the sentence structure and remember to use quotation marks around any direct quotes you use. 

GIST Summarizing Technique

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