Summarising and Paraphrasing

Summarising means explaining an idea in a shortened form, while paraphrasing means explaining an idea in detail in your own words, using most of the information from the original source without changing the meaning of 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 below). Paraphrasing shows the reader what you think about the source material or how it fits into your work. It is academically unacceptable to create a long paraphrase from a source and simply put a reference citation at the end.


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 provide full details of the source in your reference list.

Direct Quotations

A direct quotation is the use of source material word-for-word in your own work. The words used must be accurate and follow the word order, punctuation, and spelling of the original source. The words used must be enclosed in quotation marks and include an in-text reference with the page number where the original words were found in the source material. Direct quotations should be used sparingly, and only when paraphrasing the original source cannot be done without losing the writer's meaning. An essay that has a lot of direct quotations can often be weak in identifying your own thoughts on the information provided in the source material. The reader wants to know what you think about the source information, not about the exact information expressed in the source.

As you become more familiar with your subject matter you will rely less on using on direct quotations because you will be able to use new vocabulary and ideas confidently. You will also be able interpret and discuss others' ideas using your own words.