Practice: Using Paraphrase, Summary, and Quotation

Learning Objective

  • Differentiate among paraphrase, summary, and quotation

The best way to start to understand the different rhetorical affordances of paraphrase, summary, and quotation is to see how they work together in actual writing. In this practice activity, you will read a passage from a student research paper and identify where you see paraphrase, summary, and quotation at work.


The history of the Mississippi Delta centers around one thing: farming. During the transition from segregated to integrated schools, small towns in the Delta were home to illustrious plantations and booming manufacturing plants. The economy was not spectacular, but it was habitable. Now, most of the manufacturing plants have closed their doors and farm jobs are becoming more and more sparse (Elliott). NPR’s Debbie Elliott notes that “the decline of manual labor and exodus of manufacturing jobs have made difficult conditions worse in one of the nation’s poorest regions.” Six Deltan counties have seen a population decline greater than 20% since 1970. The declining economy is another contributing factor to the decline of Deltan schools. In a Washington Post article about schools in the Delta, writer Peter Whoriskey explains how rural schools that are primarily comprised of at-risk youth and offer substantially lower salaries than nearby schools have a difficult time finding and preserving qualified teachers. One section of Whoriskey’s article includes a story of an untrained teacher hired through an “emergency license” who was “found hiding” when his third grade students tossed papers in his direction.

Now you should have a pretty good idea of what paraphrase, summary, and quotation are and how to pick out good and bad examples of each. Next, you’ll start thinking about how to decide when it’s best to use each one in your writing projects.