Skip to Main Content

IN PROG Mini-module: Quick Guide to Summarising and Paraphrasing

What are Paraphrases and Summaries - and why use them? Page 2 of 6



Paraphrase example with two paintings of fruit

Paraphrases are for putting short texts into your own words. You will try to keep all the details. for example: 

Original text: "I am still learning" (Michelangelo, at age 87)

Possible paraphrase: "When Michelangelo was 87, he still felt he was learning new things."



Example of summarising with two maps

Summaries are for longer texts. You don't give all the details because it would be too long. For example, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is a whole book, but it could be summarised in a few words, like this:

"Harry Potter, an apparently normal 11 year old boy, was invited to attend a school of witchcraft and wizardry. He made good friends but also some enemies during his first year at the school. With the help of his friends, he struggled to defeat a dark wizard who had killed Harry's parents when he was just a baby."


Why use paraphrases and summaries?

There are some very good reasons for using paraphrases and summaries, rather than quotes:

  • Support: You need to bring in evidence to support your points.
  • Avoiding quotes: It's more effective put things into your own words. 
  • Show your understanding: Using your own words does this better than repeating someone else's words.
  • Show critical thinking: They give you the opportunity to show your analysis and judgement.
  • Show confidence: You show that you believe in your own writing abilities and have a position.
  • Voice: You show readers that you can express yourself.


Here are two texts taken from a student's essay. Have a look at them and answer the 4 questions below. 

A. The Royal Society (1999) eventually admitted that Marshall's results strongly indicated that ulcers were an infectious disease rather than a malfunction of the stomach.

B. The Royal Society said (1999), "These results were a major challenge to the prevailing view that gastric disorders had a physiological basis, rather than being infectious diseases."