Text: Using Quotations in a Summary

Clearly, the primary goal of a summary is to interpret a source in your own words.  That means that the bulk of a summary that you create should be unique language, not something that you can find in the source itself.

However, there are a few cases where using small, carefully-selected quotations will help strengthen the summary.

Consider these questions when assessing the potential usefulness of a source:

  • Black and white photo of a woman wearing a halter top, revealing quotation marks tattooed on each of her shoulderbladesdoes the potential quote contain  words that are unique or odd?
  • does the potential quote illustrate something special about the author’s style?
  • is the potential quote difficult to paraphrase?

If the answer to any of these is “yes,” then integrating that quote in your summary might be useful.

Again, the act of annotating your source will be useful.  Look through your notes you made while reading to identify phrases that jumped out to you, that might become quotations in a summary.