Examples of Summary, Quotation and Paraphrase
What is the Difference?
Summary tells the main idea of a piece of writing. The summary is always shorter than the main text and leaves out details that aren't important to the paper you are writing. You always write a summary in your own words.
Quotation uses the exact words of the writer and puts them in quotation marks. However, you need to include that quotation inside a sentence of your own which tells who said it and why it is important to your own argument.
Paraphrase takes 1-3 sentences of a piece of writing which is important for your reader to understand (usually it is writing which is difficult or has technical language) and puts it into your own words. You need to change both the words and the word order in a paraphrase. You also include the source in an author tag, a footnote, or a parenthetical citation.
The main idea in your own words.
How to Write a Summary
- Read the article carefully.
- Underline the main ideas as you read, or write them on a separate piece of paper.
- Re-read the underlined sections and decide the main idea of the article.
- If you are using a summary in your own paper, think about how that summary will help you prove a point in your own paper.
- Re-write the main idea in your own words. Include the details which help you prove your own point.
- Start with an author tag which includes the first and last name of the author and the title of the article. In a paper, if you have already told this information, then start the first sentence of the summary telling the author's last name and then conclude the summary with a parenthetical quotation using the author's last name and page, like this: (Tannen 2).
Sample Summary Original Text
This sample Summary, Quotation, and Paraphrase uses an article found in many College English textbooks, and which is also posted by Georgetown University here: Sex, Lies and Conversation; Why Is It So Hard for Men and Women to Talk to Each Other?
Deborah Tannen wrote this article about her book, Men, and Women in Conversation for The Washington Post, June 24, 1990. Tannen is a linguistics professor who has written several popular books using her analysis of communication styles to help people understand how to communicate more effectively with people of the opposite sex, family members, and people of different cultures.
In “Sex, Lies and Conversation; Why is It So Hard for Men and Women to Talk to Each Other?” linguist Deborah Tannen suggests that the problems of communication in marriage can be solved if couples learn that men and women have different styles of communication. Tannen notes that research shows that women create intimacy in relationships through looking at one another, sharing similar problems, and interrupting by making supportive comments or sounds; however, she reports that this type of communication style often makes men feel threatened and like women are not listening to them. Instead, Tannen reports that men, because of their need to relate inside a hierarchy in other same sex relationships, see support in a conversation as telling someone the problem isn’t so bad, or finding a way to fix it. Women, Tannen says, feel that sort of communication as intimidating and unsympathetic. What is the solution? According to Tannen, teaching men and women each other’s conversational styles can help people understand what the other person is really trying to communicate and head off misunderstandings, which can strengthen marriage relationships, and prevent divorce (Tannen 2-4).
Author Tag Table
Words for author
Words for Said
Words for said
full name of author (first time only)
last name of author
their profession, for example "the scientist" or "the professor"
Helpful Tips for Writing a Summary
- Author Tags: Use the first and last name of the author and the title of the work the first time you mention a source. After that, you can use the author's last name or a synonym.
- How often do you need an author tag? You need to let the reader know when you are using information from a source by using an author tag, a footnote, or a parenthetical citation. It is helpful to use the author tag in each sentence of a summary but not necessary. You do absolutely need it in the first and last sentences to signal the reader that you are beginning and ending the summary.
- Use Question Sentences: Consider using a question, especially if you are having trouble figuring out how to move to the final point or main idea of the article. Question sentences can help you to pull your summary together and point towards the most important ideas.
Quotation in Communication
A quotation is putting "The exact words someone said between quotation marks."
When to Quote
Don't overuse quotations in your writing. Most of the time, it is better to summarize or paraphrase. What should you quote?
Authority: Quote when the words are said by someone who has authority on the subject or is an important public figure whose words on that issue are important to know (like Martin Luther King talking about Civil Rights, or President Obama talking about world affairs).
Famous Saying: Quote a famous saying or a sentence which would lose a lot if said in different words.
Authoritative Source: Quote an authoritative text like the Bible, a poem, or a legal decision if they exact words are important to know, or your essay is going to analyze the words of the quotation in detail.
Needed for Analysis: If you are going to argue for or against the way something is worded or phrased, then you may need to quote rather than paraphrase. An example is when you are analyzing literature, or evaluating the wording of an advertisement.
How to Use Quotation
Use quotes for short amounts of information. Unless you have a very good reason to use a longer quote, you should usually limit quotes to 1 sentence or less.
Don’t quote too often. Usually, I ask students to use no more than 1 quote for every 2 pages of a paper.
Make sure you include author tag (who said it and where), or a parenthetical citation (or footnote).
Explain why this quote helps prove your idea. Don't assume the quote will make your point. Tell the reader why this quote helps your argument.
Include a quote in your own sentence. Don’t just put the quote on its own in your paper without putting it in your own sentence.
- Correct: As Shakespeare said, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be."
- Incorrect: "Neither a borrower nor a lender be."
1. If you are mentioning a source for the first time, you include the name of the author and article.
Deborah Tannen in “Sex, Lies, and Conversation; Why is It So Hard for Men and Women to Talk to Each Other?” explains women also need to learn to communicate differently with men because “Women’s conversational habits are as frustrating to men as men’s are to women.”
2. Afterward, you only mention the author’s last name if you use the source again.
Tannen explains women also need to learn to communicate differently with men because “Women’s conversational habits are as frustrating to men as men’s are to women."
3. Parenthetical Citation in MLA. If you mention the author's name, you don't necessarily need to add a parenthetical citation unless the article has many pages and you want to add the page number. However, if you are mentioning several articles by the same author in your paper, you need to tell which one in the parenthesis.
Tannen explains women also need to learn to communicate differently with men because “Women’s conversational habits are as frustrating to men as men’s are to women" (Sex, Lies and Conversation 2).
Deborah Tannen on Conversation and Cuture
Reword 1-3 sentences in your own words to make them easy to understand.
- A paraphrase is often longer than original (not shorter, like a summary)
- A paraphrase is used for short sections, 1-3 sentences, not more.
- The language of a paraphrase is simple, or the same as your own writing in the rest of the paper.
- You need to include author tags.
- You do need to explain how the paraphrase supports your argument, but this does not have to be inside the paraphrase itself (use sentences before and after).
When to Use
Important Concepts: You need to use a paraphrase rather than summary when you need to explain in depth a very important concept from an article for your reader.
Difficult Source: Use paraphrase rather than quoting if your source article is difficult to understand and you want to explain it clearly in easier language so your reader gets the point.
Important Information: When you need to explain all of the information in the source and not just the main ideas like you would in a summary.
Men's Conversation is About Who is On Top
Example of Paraphrase
"The communication problems that endanger marriage can't be fixed by mechanical engineering. They require a new conceptual framework about the role of talk in human relationships. Many of the psychological explanations that have become second nature may not be helpful because they tend to blame either women (for not being assertive enough) or men (for not being in touch with their feelings). A sociolinguistic approach by which male-female conversation is seen as cross-cultural communication allows us to understand the problem and forge solutions without blaming either party."
Italics are my original argument which leads up to the use of the paraphrase. This shows you how paraphrase can be used in your paper.
How is it possible to solve the problem of divorce in American? Some people suggest that the problem is that women are not asserting their rights. Others think that men need to step up to the plate and be more considerate of their spouses. However, another way to look at the problem is to see why men and women are having trouble communicating effectively. Deborah Tannen in “Sex, Lies, and Conversation; Why is It So Hard for Men and Women to Talk to Each Other?” suggests that solving problems in communication between men and women in marriage is not a matter of changing techniques. Instead, she suggests that we need to help marriage partners have a new way of thinking about how they speak and listen to one another. Tannen says that accusing women for not speaking up or men for not expressing themselves doesn’t help matters. Instead, she suggests we teach men and women to understand the different way the other gender communicates so that they can better understand what the other person is saying and resolve differences instead of placing blame.