How to Write a Summary by Paraphrasing Source Material

When you paraphrase material from a source, you restate the information from an entire sentence or passage in your own words, using your own original sentence structure. A paraphrased source differs from a summarized source in that you focus on restating the ideas, not condensing them.

It is important to check your paraphrase against the source material to make sure it is both accurate and original. Inexperienced writers sometimes use the thesaurus method of paraphrasing—that is, they simply rewrite the source material, replacing most of the words with synonyms. This constitutes a misuse of sources. A true paraphrase restates ideas using the writer’s own language and style.

Review the videos below about developing paraphrasing skills with writing:

Instruction on how to paraphrase:

How to avoid plagiarism when paraphrasing a text:

Paraphrase Writing Format

  • Write a Summary the way you always have, i.e., selecting “word-for-word” passages from the essay included in this module. Cite the page numbers in parentheses as you have up to now.
  • Make a copy of your summary and place it below the original. Go into the copy of your summary and try to paraphrase each “word-for-word” passage that you cited.
  • When writing a summary, remember that it should be in the form of a paragraph.
  • A summary begins with an introductory sentence that states the text’s title, author and main point of the text as you see it.
  • A summary is written in your own words.
  • A summary contains only the ideas of the original text. Do not insert any of your own opinions, interpretations, deductions or comments into a summary.
  • Identify in order the significant sub-claims the author uses to defend the main point.
  • Using source material from the essay is important. Why? Because defending claims with source material is what you will be asked to do when writing papers for your college professors.
  • Write a last sentence that “wraps” up your summary; often a simple rephrasing of the main point.

Example Paraphrase Writing Format

In the essay Santa Ana, author Joan Didion’s main point is (state main point). According to Didion …PARAPHRASE 1…”. Didion also CLAIMS… PARAPHRASE 2…”. Finally, she CLAIMS “…PARAPHRASE 3…” Write a last sentence that “wraps” up your summary; often a simple rephrasing of the main point.