Referencing using APA/Resources/Paraphrasing, Summarising and Quoting

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OIL Module

Module on using information in your essay

Paraphrasing, summarising and quoting

When you have found information by another author which you think will be of use to your own work, you need to decide whether you will paraphrase, summarize, or quote from the work of that author.

Whether you choose paraphrase, summarise or quote depends on factors that are explained here.

This site shows you how work from other authors might be integrated into a paragraph. Please note that this referencing is not in the APA style.


Very broadly, paraphrasing means putting something into your own words. There may be some reduction in quantity, but, essentially, you are keeping the same amount of material. When rewording something, you might want to look at how you can change the words and structure of the text extract you are interested in.

The Purdue Online Writing Lab explains how the steps of paraphrasing and gives you a chance to practise your skills with an exercise.

It is important when paraphrasing to concentrate on the author’s ideas rather than the language the author has used. If you try to rewrite material by changing the structure of sentences and using words with similar meaning, you may still be accused of plagiarism. This site shows how a text may be reworded to the extent that it is properly paraphrased.


Summarising, on the other hand, involves quite a bit of reduction. Typically, you might have a long passage from which you are taking the main ideas and are ignoring the examples and details.


If you choose to quote an extract from a text, then you have decided that that extract is very important to your argument, and is stated in such a way that you cannot easily rephrase it.

Strong writers keep direct quotations to a minimum. Therefore, include as few direct quotations from outside sources as possible, and keep them as short. As a general rule, quote directly only when the exact wording of your source is vital to understanding the point under discussion or when your source has said something especially eloquent or memorable.

Otherwise, paraphrase the ideas, or in the case of a long passage, summarize the relevant points. ( Paradigm Online Writing Assistant)

Regardless of whether you are paraphrasing, summarising of quoting, it is important to remember that you are using the ideas of other authors to support your own ideas.

At this site, click on reporting in the left hand column for further explanations on how to paraphrase and summarize.


  • Marc Doesburg, Otago Polytechnic, 2007
  • David McQuillan, Otago Polytechnic, 2007

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