57 6. Paraphrase/Summarize

You will be using three different kinds of borrowed information: direct quotes, paraphrases and summarizing information. Let’s take a brief look at each:

  • Direct quotes: Use the actual words of sources infrequently; save them for the bast stated phrases from your source. If you source says something eloquently, use his/her words. If the words make you laugh or cry, they might be useful for the reader of your paper to see. If you’re citing an extremely controversial statement, it might be better to keep it in the original author’s words to reduce any appearances of extreme bias on your part. Try to keep direct quotes short; if you use a quote that is more than three lines long, you have to use a different format to block the information.
  • Paraphrase: Use this technique more often than direct quotes. Restate the original idea of the borrowed author, but do not change his or her meaning. I always suggest that when you are taking notes from a source, paraphrase in your notes, don’t copy and paste from the source. Then, when you start to write your essay, you will probably double paraphrase those notes, moving further away from the author’s original words. A major form of plagiarism is when you inadvertently use the words from a source without putting quotes around those words, even if you cite the source.
  • Whereas paraphrase typically looks at a specific point in your source (a sentence, for instance), the summary identifies a longer section of the work (a paragraph or even a chapter). You want to use summary to condense a lot of information into a short statement. Again, you are putting info into your own words, but you are giving an overview of the section rather than a rewrite of a specific idea. Summary is useful in using brevity in the information you borrow, since most of your argumentative essay should be your own personal ideas.

For more information on using borrowed sources, refer to the following website:



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