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Paraphrasing and Summary

This resource was written by Tony Cimasko.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on February 26, 2009 .

Summary:
This resource provides guidelines for paraphrasing and summarizing the sources you have researched.

Whether you are writing for the workplace or for academic purposes, you will need to research and incorporate the writing of others into your own texts.  Two unavoidable steps in that process are paraphrasing (changing the language into your own) and summarizing (getting rid of smaller details and leaving only the primary points).  These steps are necessary for three reasons.


First, if you used the original writer’s language without any changes, it limits your own learning; by paraphrasing and summarizing, you make a piece of information your own, and you understand it better.

Second, the original writers did not write for the audiences you are targeting; there are inevitably contents and language choices that will not necessarily work for your audience.  Third, what authors write is considered to be their property, just like a coat or a car; by copying it (without giving credit), you can be accused of plagiarism. 

Summarizing and paraphrasing are frequently used together, but not always.  The following will give you some basic information on paraphrasing and summarizing, and then you will have the chance to reflect on appropriate paraphrasing and summarizing yourself.

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