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Mini-Module: How to Avoid Plagiarism

Quoting, Summarising, and Paraphrasing

Skills for Success logoQuoting, Summarising, and Paraphrasing Page 5 of 7

Let's say you have found some good information in a journal - how do you put that into your writing? There are basically three ways: summarising, paraphrasing, or quoting.  Here's what they are and how to use them.




Orange quotesIf you copy the exact words of a source, don't forget to put quotation marks ("  ") to show the start and finish of the quote. Don't forget to attach the reference. 
If you are making a long quote (three lines or more) you should start on a new line and indent it.
It should look like this:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today! (King, 1963)
Notice that there is no need to put quotation marks when you quote this way.
Don't quote too often. It is better to put things in our own words - unless there is something important about the words used.

Keep quotes short. 

If you want to use something from a source, only use the relevant parts and decide if it needs to be quoted. For example, in this activity which exampe is the best for putting in a student's essay?




This is when you give the same information as the original source text, but use different words. A paraphrase is usually a similar length to the original. 

It is something we do all the time, for example, telling someone what someone else said.

But, quoting word-for-word exactly what someone said is quite unusual. We are not very good at remembering the exact words, but if we understand something, we remember the gist of it and can tell other people about it in our own words. 

In your assignments, you can use this natural ability to paraphrase, and so avoid too much quoting.

Play the video below to see one way of paraphrasing.


Activity 1

Put the steps of writing a paraphrase into the correct order.

Answers to this activity can also be found at the bottom of this page. 

Activity 2

Now do this review activity about the advantages of paraphrasing.

Answers to this activity can also be found at the bottom of this page. 

Don't forget, always give the reference for a paraphrase.

Book funnelled into a summary​Summarising

A summary is the main point or points of a source in a more general way than a paraphrase. Paraphrasing is more appropriate for shorter texts and summarising for longer ones. 

Activity 3

Have a go at the following activity about when to paraphrase and when to summarise. Some general knowledge (or access to Google) required. (Answers are available at the bottom of the page.)

The steps for summarising are the same as for paraphrasing. 

As with paraphrases, look at the source before and after writing your summary, but don't look at the source while you are writing. 

The key is to understand the source - it will then automatically be turned into your own words by your brain - as long as you do not look at the original while you are writing. 

Don't forget, always give the reference for a summary.


Answers to Activity 1

1. Read and understand

2. Take very brief keyword notes

3. Close the book and write your paraphrase from memory and your notes

4. Open the book and check your paraphrase is accurate but worded differently. 

Answers to Activity 2

The correct choices are:

  • Your writing "sounds" like you
  • Shows your teacher that you understand
  • Teachers can see what you understand
  • Shows confidence
  • Shows critical thinking
  • It makes it easier for you to add your own comments about the ideas

Answers to Activity 3

  • The Old Testament of the Christian Bible - Summarise
  • Book 1 of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past - Summarise
  • Tolstoy's War and Peace - Summarise
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - Summarise
  • Khal Drogo's speech in Game of Thrones, Season 1, Episode 1, Scene 6 - Paraphrase
  • Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet - Summarise
  • The first sentence of Boris Johnson's answer to the question from the BBC journalist at the press conference on 01/05/2020 - Paraphrase