Summarising and Paraphrasing

Summarising and Paraphrasing

Summarising means explaining an idea in a shortened form, while paraphrasing is explaining an idea in detail in your own words, using most of the information from the original source in much the same order as it is occurs in the original.


Paraphrasing is not substituting a few words or rearranging sentences. Think what the original writer is trying to say and write a completely new sentence if you can. If there is a key phrase, well expressed by the original writer, then use it as a short direct quotation (see above). It is poor writing practice and not acceptable to create a long paraphrase from a source and simply put a reference citation at the end. Once again this is not showing what you think about the source or how it fits into your work.


There is an art to good summarising. Keep in mind that your purpose is to use the source material by tying the ideas in the summary to the general point you are making. Summarising is the best way to show your voice and convince the reader you understand what you are talking about.

For both paraphrasing and summarising you must indicate the source with an in-text reference and transcribe full details of the source in your reference list.

Direct quotation

Do not use many direct quotations. An essay that has a lot of direct quotation can often be weak in the writer’s own voice, as the writer is allowing the evidence they have found to do the talking. The marker wants to know what you think about the experts, not a repetition of experts’ opinions only. As you learn more subject matter you will rely on direct quotation less and less because you will become more confident with new vocabulary and ideas and you will interpret and discuss ideas of others using your own words. Instead you will learn to summarise.