Quoting and paraphrasing are powerful ways to support your ideas. A quote or paraphrase backs up your ideas with expert information or opinion. It is important to understand when it is appropriate to quote or paraphrase, how to do this well, and how to acknowledge or cite your sources appropriately.

Summarize, Paraphrase or Quote when…
  • You want to demonstrate the credibility of your own ideas by showing how the experts concur with your ideas
  • You want to give examples of differing points of view on the topic
  • The idea is expressed particularly well by the author: the writing is particularly eloquent and worth noting
  • You wish to go into the ideas of the expert in more detail
Summarizing means putting the main ideas into your own words. Summaries are very short. Cite your source.
Paraphrasing means to put a particular passage from the source into your own words. Paraphrase when you need more detail than can be achieved through summarizing. Cite your source.
Quoting means using an exact phrase or passage from the source material. Use a direct quote from a source when the language is particularly eloquent or powerful – when the author’s language is better than you could express it or summarize it yourself. You must copy a quotation exactly as it appears. Cite your source.

Learn more about quotations on the Tips for Using Quotations page of this website.

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