Paraphrasing, summarising and quoting

Paraphrasing, summarising and quoting are three ways of integrating other authors' ideas into your own writing.

  • A paraphrase is your version of essential ideas and information expressed by someone else.
  • A summary is less detailed than a paraphrase, and significantly shorter than the original, rephrasing just the main points.
  • quotation is the words of another writer reproduced exactly in terms of wording, spelling, punctuation, capitalisation and paragraphing.


  • Use sparingly and only when the way in which the author expresses an idea seems as significant as the idea itself. Otherwise it is preferable to express the idea in your own words. 


  • Paraphrasing enables you to incorporate the ideas of other writers in your field into your own writing.


  • Whether you are using a paraphrase, quote or summary, ideas that are not your own must ALWAYS be attributed to the original source.
  • The author must be acknowledged in the referencing style of your faculty or department.

For effective paraphrasing and summarising

  1. Have a clear purpose in mind before you commence reading and note-taking. Decide what and how much detail is needed.

  2. Re-read the passage until you understand it thoroughly.

  3. Jot down the main points.

  4. Set aside the original, and rewrite the text in your own words. This way you will not be tempted to plagiarise!

  5. Aim to synthesise and integrate other people's thoughts with your own. You can use opening gambits to introduce an idea eg "Paraha (1992) found that..." or "As Jones (2000) has recently indicated..."

  6. It is unacceptable to simply replace words from the original statement with words or phrases with similar meanings, or to rearrange the sentence or paragraph.

  7. Use quotation marks within a paraphrase when you want to utilise the author's exact language.

  8. If you do quote an author, ensure that the wording, punctuation and spelling are exactly the same as the original.

  9. Record the source! Include the author, title, page number, place of publication, publisher, and library call number.

  10. Always check your version with the original. Ensure that your paraphrase represents the author's meaning without distortion.

Take care with paraphrasing and summarising, so that you don't fall into the plagarism trap!

Original text

For example, McDonald's has expanded rapidly overseas in recent years. Its skill in managing fast-food operations has proven to be just as valuable in countries as diverse as France, Russia, China, Germany and Brazil as they have been in the United States. Prior to McDonald's entry, none of these countries had American-style fast-food chains, so McDonald's brought a unique product as well as unique skills to each country.

From Hill, C. W. L. (1994). International business: Competing in the global marketplace. Illinois: Irwin.

Acceptable paraphrase

Hill (1994) cites McDonald's as an example of a company that has been able to successfully expand into the international market. McDonald's has created a global impact, not only with its "American-style" fast-food products, but also with its particular brand of management practices.

Acceptable summary

McDonald's has successfully established both its product and operating style in many countries outside the United States (Hill, 1994). 


Too close to the original and no source given: 

In recent years, McDonald's has expanded rapidly overseas. In countries as diverse as France, Russia, China, Germany and Brazil they have proven to be just as valuable at managing fast-food chains as in the United States. Previously, none of these countries had American-style fast-food chains. McDonald's brought unique skills and a unique product to these countries.

Last updated : 28 November 2018
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