Paraphrasing and Summarizing: Complete Overview
Paraphrasing and summarizing are key skills in academic writing. Paraphrasing restates information from a source in your own words without reducing length significantly.
Summarizing condenses the source down to only the main ideas and key points. The purpose of paraphrasing is to rephrase details and examples in your own writing style.
The purpose of summarizing is to briefly highlight the core concepts and information. This guide defines paraphrasing and summarizing, provides tips and examples, and shows the main distinctions between the two skills.
Paraphrasing means taking a section of text and rewriting it using your own words and style. Paraphrased content should be similar in length and structure to the original source, just using different vocabulary and phrasing.
Paraphrasing demonstrates a deeper understanding of source material and allows writers to incorporate research while avoiding plagiarism.
Steps for Effective Paraphrasing
Follow these key steps to paraphrase well
- Read and fully understand the original passage.
- Without looking at the source, rewrite it in your own words and style.
- Check that your paraphrased version keeps all of the meaning and facts.
- Ensure you have changed the phrasing and sentence structures, not just swapped synonyms.
- Cite the original source properly.
- Use quotation marks if you must directly copy phrases or terms from the original passage.
Benefits of Paraphrasing
- Shows close reading and understanding of sources
- Allows you to smoothly include information from research sources in your writing
- Expands your academic vocabulary and writing skills
- Avoids plagiarism through restatement in your own words
- Provides an alternative explanation of complex concepts
- Engages readers with accessible wording and phrasing
What is Summarizing?
Summarizing means shortening a long text to highlight just the main ideas. A summary includes only the key points and important details.
It leaves out examples, extra details, and small specifics. The summary should be much shorter than the original text.
How to Write a Summary
Follow these steps when creating a summary:
- Carefully read and take notes on the primary concepts and facts.
- Look at how the information is organized and focus only on the main ideas.
- Remove all repetitive, irrelevant, or detailed information.
- Compose the summary focusing on the main ideas, using your own words.
- Keep the summary clear and concise - under 25% the length of the original text.
- Include a citation to the original source.
Advantages of Summarizing
- Provides a brief overview of long or complex material
- Highlights the key ideas and overall meaning
- Helps focus on most relevant information
- Improves ability to recall and retain information
- Allows assessment of overall structure and flow
- Develops skill in analyzing the structure of information
Key Differences Between the Two Skills
Restates the same information in different words
Shortens the information by only including the main ideas
Keeps the same level of detail as the original
Removes details and provides a high-level overview
Has a similar length as the original
Is much shorter than the original
Retains the original structure and organization
May restructure or rearrange content
Focuses on rewording phrases and sentences
Focuses on overall ideas and key takeaways
When to Paraphrase vs When to Summarize
Choosing between paraphrasing and summarizing depends on your purpose and goals. Here are some guidelines on when each technique is most appropriate:
Use paraphrasing when you want to
- Add a specific idea or detail from a source
- Restate complex information in simpler terms
- Explain research clearly in your own words
- Analyze the original text more closely
- Expand on a key concept or theory
Use summarizing when you want to
- Give an overview of a long source
- Highlight the main ideas and themes
- Provide context or background information briefly
- Recap key points for others concisely
- Compare and differentiate between multiple sources
Examples Demonstrating Paraphrasing vs Summarizing
Social media apps are popular with teens to stay in touch and share updates. But experts worry social media can also have risks and bad effects like less sleep, less focus, and more anxiety and depression in teens.
Social media helps teens connect but experts worry it can hurt mental health. Too much use may lead to poor self-worth, less sleep and focus, more bullying and inappropriate content. Parents should monitor use and talk about responsible social media habits.
While social media helps teens connect, too much use can increase anxiety, depression and hurt self-image and sleep. Parents need to discuss using it responsibly.
Paraphrasing and summarizing help writers include research from sources in their work effectively. Paraphrasing restates the details in different words while summarizing gives a short overview of the main ideas.
Learning when to paraphrase versus summarize is crucial for good academic writing and avoiding plagiarism. Writers can get better with practice at paraphrasing to restate details or summarizing to recap key points briefly.
Frequently Asked Questions
How are paraphrasing and summarizing similar?
Paraphrasing and summarizing both involve rewriting source information in your own words. Summarizing shortens the text to key points, while paraphrasing focuses on rephrasing details.
Why is summarizing better than paraphrasing?
Summarizing is better than paraphrasing when you need to briefly convey only the key points or main ideas from a long source. Summaries greatly reduce length and focus on the core concepts, while paraphrasing restates ideas more fully in your own words.
How can paraphrasing and summarizing skills help me in my academic writing?
Paraphrasing and summarizing help me use research in my school papers. Paraphrasing shows I can explain ideas in my own words. Summarizing shows I can find the main points and be brief.