Applying Paraphrase, Summary, and Quotation

Learning Objective

  • Evaluate application of paraphrase, summary, and quotation

There are no hard and fast rules for when to use direct quotations, when to paraphrase, and when to summarize. Like so many other parts of the writing process, this rhetorical decision will become easier with practice. Keep in mind that the goal of including sources in your writing is to build your credibility (you’ll learn more about this later) and to make your purpose more clear and concise to your audience. These factors should influence the source integration decisions you make.

As you are writing your own paper, use this checklist to help you decide when to paraphrase, summarize, or directly quote from sources.

using sources checklist

  • Writers use direct quotations . . .
    • sparingly and when the original language has a strong impact
    • with set-up, context, and proper citation
    • followed by commentary, analysis, or explanation
  • Writers use paraphrase . . .
    • to contextualize the information (who said it, when, and where)
    • to restate all the supporting points to develop the main idea of the original text
    • to share important information from the source while maintaining their own voice
  • Writers use summary . . .
    • to contextualize the information (who said it, when, and where)
    • by condensing the source to its the main ideas and without using quotations or citing specific supporting points of the passage
    • to support their claims