Quoting, Paraphrasing and Summarizing Your Research

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  • 0:01 Giving Credit to your Sources
  • 1:19 Quoting
  • 1:51 Paraphrasing
  • 3:57 Summarizing
  • 4:59 Reasons to Source
  • 5:27 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
Quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing are three important skills to master for writing in the academic and business world. These skills will help support claims and add credibility to your work.

Giving Credit to Your Sources

It is crucial to understand how to quote, paraphrase and summarize for writing in the workplace. These skills will help support claims and add credibility to your work. As a college professor, I have come across numerous issues with students quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing their work. Incidents of plagiarism run rampant in the classroom because some students don't seem to grasp how to credit their sources. Plagiarism is stealing someone else's work and portraying the work as your own.

This is a true story. I was reading papers in my office from one of my college writing classes. The research paper on the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. began with the expected topic sentence and main points. I then turned the page and found myself reading rap lyrics. It turns out that the student thought I wouldn't read the entire paper and decided to take someone else's words (the rap artist's) and insert them into a five-page paper. He did not source the information, and it was entirely a plagiarized paper. While this is an extreme example, students can be easily confused about how to follow the basic sourcing rules of quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing. Let me offer you some tips in these three areas of research writing.


The first skill to master is the ability to use quotations to support a main idea. This is when a writer uses word-for-word information from a source and gives credit to the original writer. A quotation has to be an exact match and be attributed to the original source author. For example, if you were beginning a paper on Martin Luther King, Jr., it might be impactful to start your paper with a direct quotation of his to help create a mood or set up your main idea.


Paraphrasing is a second skill that allows a writer to legitimately utilize a passage of text from a source. The writer has to restate the original material in their own words while still maintaining the main ideas. In order for paraphrasing to be done correctly, it also has to offer credit to the original writer.

To paraphrase effectively, remember to:

  • Put the text into your own words.
  • Avoid copying the text.
  • Rearrange similar text.
  • Ask yourself if you included all important points.

Paraphrasing is different from summarizing because it condenses information but offers more than just a summary of main ideas. It can contain much more detail and is not concerned with length. Let's take a look at an example of paraphrasing a source. Here is an original quote about Dr. King from Biography.com:

'Through his activism, he played a pivotal role in ending the legal segregation of African-American citizens in the South and other areas of the nation, as well as the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, among several other honors. King was assassinated in April 1968, and continues to be remembered as one of the most lauded African-American leaders in history, often referenced by his 1963 speech, 'I Have a Dream.' '

The next step is to condense the information into a shorter amount of verbiage and put it into your own words. This is the paraphrased example:

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