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Referencing, Citation and Plagiarism: Paraphrasing and Summarizing



To paraphrase means to restate someone else's ideas in your own words. Paraphrasing is more than simply substituting phrases here and there--you must use your own sentence structure and phrasing. A paraphrase should offer your readers the same level of detail provided in the original source: not just a simpler or shorter version. Lastly, always remember to provide a reference to the original source.

 Paraphrasing can be useful when you want to:

  • maintain the flavour and flow of your own writing, but include someone else's ideas
  • avoid using long block quotes
  • explain or interpret complicated ideas in your own words

The University of Toronto offers the following strategy to help make paraphrasing easier:

When you are taking notes in the early stages of essay writing, do not copy the material verbatim (word for word): write your notes in point form instead. Make a point to use your own words right from the start and try to capture the main idea of the passage. Remember to take clear notes and include referencing information (author, title, page number, etc.) to keep track of where and how you found the source.

When it comes time to start writing your assignment, expand the ideas from your notes into full sentences. Provide a reference to the original source, then check it to make sure your paraphrase is accurate and in your own words.


Examples of Paraphrasing:


To summarize means to restate the main ideas of someone else's work in your own words. In a summary you are only conveying the general meaning of the idea of the original source, not specific details.

Summaries are useful when you want to refer to the main ideas of another person's argument before you counter with your own argument or analysis.    When you summarize remember to provide a reference and use your own words.

Tips to Keep in Mind When Summarizing

  • Remember to only summarize the author's main or key points
  • Be clear about what is important for your reader to know about the source you are referring to


Examples of Summarizing:

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