How to Paraphrase, Quote, and Summarize Properly in Academic Papers

  • Quote when something is said in a unique way or the person saying it has authority.
  • Paraphrase when you want to say all the details but there is nothing special about the person you are quoting or the way they said it.
  • Summarize when you want to give the general outline, or an overview of a lot of material.

Using the ideas from other people can help you show people that your ideas are valid. Quotes, paraphrases, and summaries can give you evidence, reasons and examples to prove your own points. Remember that your ideas need to be in your own words and that you use research as support. Topic sentences and thesis sentences should always be in your own words and not ideas borrowed from someone else.

Internet Writing: When you are writing on the web, you can mention the name of the source at the beginning of your quote, paraphrase or summary and then provide a link.

School Writing: In academic writing for school, you will do three things:

1. Title and Author: Inside the sentence when you first start using a source, you can mention the title and author and/or use a parenthetical citation (MLA style) or footnote (APA style) at the end of the sentence:

Example: According to Brice Tyson in his book, Dogs Have More Fun, the important thing to know is….. (Tyson 32).

2.Author Tags: If you use more than one sentence to explain the ideas from that source, you can use author tags to let the reader know where those ideas come from.

Example(author tags in bold): Tyson disagrees with people who think that dogs do everything for the pleasure of their owners. Instead, his book states, the dog gets gratification by….This fervent dog lover insists that…

3. Source List: You will also need a Works Cited or Bibliography list at the end of your paper.

Author Tags: An “author tag” is how you identify who said what you are quoting, summarizing or paraphrasing. To make your writing more interesting, you want to give the author name in different ways and this article has a chart for how to do that. It is also possible to add a comment about what the author is saying by using my “Other Words for Said” chart. For example, if you say “the author exaggerates…” you give a negative evaluation of what the author is saying which can help the reader to see the information from your point of view.

When you mention a source, you need to at least tell the name of the writer. Usually, it is also good to tell the title of what you are quoting from too. Additionally, you can strengthen your writing if you explain how that source is going to support your idea. You can do this by including the claim you are trying to support in the sentence, and also by explaining the authority of the person you are citing. Here are some examples:

Good: According to John Miller, “Many mentors feel lost when they encounter children with problems impossible for them to understand” (Miller 23).

Better (includes claim with quote): John Miller explains that it is important for mentors to be trained because, without training, “Many mentors feel lost when they encounter children with problems impossible for them to understand” (Miller 23).

Best (includes claim and reason for quoting this authority): Mentors need to be well trained to be effective. John Miller, international director of Big Brothers, Big Sisters, says that mentor training is essential because “Many mentors feel lost when they encounter children with problems impossible for them to understand” (Miller 23).

It is very important to give your reader clues that you are doing a long summary.

  • You can do that by mentioning the author’s name at the start of the summary (first and last).
  • Then as you continue, you can use author tags like “Jones says” or “she mentions” or “he explains” as you write (see author tags chart).
  • You can also use the name of the book or article instead of the author to break up the monotony of your writing.Example:

John Miller, in his article, “How to Mentor,” suggests many ideas for effective mentoring programs. One idea he promotes is xxxxx. Miller also says xxxxx. A final suggestion in the article is that xxxxxx (Miller 34).

  1. Don’t Quote a Lot. When should you use it? When the author says something in a unique way which would lose impact if you paraphrased or summarized, or when the author is a unique authority on the subject and quoting them makes your argument stronger. In general, I wouldn’t use more than one quote per page or per about 250 words, or 3-4 times in the average Hub page or college essay.
  2. Short, Not Long Quotes. Most quotes should be only one or two lines of type. If it is longer than that, you should generally paraphrase or summarize.
  3. Use Quotation Marks Correctly! I have to include this one because so many of my college students do this incorrectly: quotes must be included INSIDE your own sentence and not as a sentence with quotation marks around it. Look this up if you aren’t sure.

Incorrect: “Training is important for mentors” (Miller 23).

Correct : According to John Miller, “Training is important for mentors” (Miller 23).

Paraphrasing is tricky because you don’t want to plagiarize the source by coming too close to it in your re-write.You must keep the original meaning but use different vocabulary and a different sentence structure. The best way to do a paraphrase is:

  1. Read Several Times: Read the passage carefully several times until you feel you understand what it is saying.
  2. Write Without Looking: Without looking at the passage, write your own version of it, using your own vocabulary and way of phrasing.
  3. Compare: Next, look back at the original and tweak your version to make sure it isn’t copying but does say the same thing.
  4. Style: Remember, the paraphrase should sound like your own writing, not the source you are quoting. The paraphrase should have the same tone and style as the rest of your paper.
  5. Use Turnitin Check: If your course uses Turnitin.com and your professor allows you to upload and look at your own papers, this is a wonderful way to see if your paper has too many words that are the same as your source.

No, if there are key words or special vocabulary in this subject, you can keep those in your paraphrase.Also, if there is one unique phrase you want to include, just use quotation marks around it.