For many writing assignments, you will be required to use source material in your essays. Using source material can strengthen your writing because it shows that you have found evidence to support your main points from other writers. There are several different ways to incorporate source material into your writing: quoting, paraphrasing, summarizing, and a combination of any or all of the above.
When Should You Quote, Paraphrase, or Summarize?
Whether you decide to use quotations, paraphrases, or summaries depends on a number of different factors. Here are some suggestions for how to decide which to use:
You should include quotations when
- The author’s credentials will give your paper credibility
- It is worded in a powerful, poignant way
- The wording is very technical and difficult to translate
You should include paraphrases when
- The source material is important but the wording is not (like facts and statistics)
- The writer is not an expert in the field that would give your paper more credibility
You should include summaries when
- The overall argument or main ideas are important but the details are not
- The source materials needs to be shorter than the original
How do I quote, paraphrase, and summarize?
Steps for Quoting
Make a Quotation Sandwich
- Start with an introduction to the quote saying who says it and giving the author’s credentials.
- Give the quote. Don’t forget to use an in-text citation and quotation marks.
- Tell what the quote means. Briefly give your explanation of the quote.
Steps for Paraphrasing
- Read the entire source or section.
- Make sure you understand it.
- Put original away and recall main ideas.
- Put relevant info from passage’s surrounding in the paraphrase.
- Do not feel that you have to substitute every ordinary word.
- Go back and check original to make sure you’ve accurately represented the passage.
Steps for Summarizing
- Read & annotate source.
- Break into subdivisions.
- Write paraphrases of each subdivision.
- Decide which main ideas are most appropriate to include.
- Consider your purpose of the summary.
- Make sure your sentences restate the points.
- May include brief direct quotations.
- Write summary in your own voice.
- Keep summary objective.
- Edit to reduce repetition.