Quotes vs. Paraphrasing vs. Summarizing
There are three ways to incorporate your sources into your writing and research: quotations, paraphrasing, or summarization. It's hard to know which you should use to integrate your information. Yes, there is a difference between paraphrasing and summarizing. We'll discuss that here.
This is the easiest way to insert information into your work. Obviously, quotes need to be in quotations and need to be EXACT PHRASING . Use them SPARINGLY - a paper peppered with quotes will communicate to your audience that you let others do the heavy lifting. When do you use quotes? See some of the below reasons from the University of Houston:
- Accuracy: If you were to summarize or paraphrase, you might lose some of the author's meaning.
- Authority: Perhaps using the author's exact words will lend authority, or importance, to your point.
- Conciseness: When you try to paraphrase or summarize, your wording becomes awkward or ends up being too long.
- Unforgettable language: The words your author uses are beautifully or artfully written, or may have some historical significance. Also, you may be writing a report on language or writing, itself, and want to use a quote as an example.
Paraphrasing is more detailed and specific than summarizing. You use paraphrasing when you want to refer to your source while maintaining continuity in the language and writing of your paper. By using paraphrasing correctly, you show your audience that you've mastered understanding of the topic and can write about it thoughtfully and in your own words. You will paraphrase when you want to:
- Change the organization of ideas for emphasis. You might have to change around the ordering of the ideas in the source to support your point. Make sure you stay true to the author's original meaning.
- Simplify the material. The author may have used complex arguments or concepts.
- Clarify the material. You may need to clarify or interpret your authors words so that your audience can better understand them.
Summarizing is broader and more general than paraphrasing. You will summarize your author's words and ideas when the concepts are more important than the way the thoughts are written. Summarization is very flexible - for instance, you can summarize an entire book in one or two sentences. You may summarize for the following reasons:
- To condense the material. You understand the content well enough that you can shorten or compress its meaning into fewer words.
- To omit extras from the material. Your source may be very long, but you only want to point out one or two things.
- To simplify the material. You may have to simplify the most important complex arguments, sentences, or vocabulary in the source material.