Paraphrasing Versus Summarizing


Paraphrasing and summarizing the terms often confuses English learners. This is not surprising since the two mean very similar things with only a small difference. First paraphrase and summarize?

Paraphrasing and summarizing are essential writing tools. Both are techniques to incorporate works or ideas of other authors in their own words in their texts. Although a writer must always use his own ideas when writing, it is sometimes necessary to use the thoughts and concepts of other authors. This may be due to one or more of the following reasons:

  • To support your own ideas
  • Give reasons why you agree or disagree
  • To give depth to your writing
  • Point to something that has led to his ideas
  • Give a different perspective on yours

The same reasons for rewriting and summarizing are the cause of the confusion between the two. So, what’s the difference?

To paraphrase is to rewrite the words or ideas of another writer with their own words, without changing the meaning. The paraphrasing is about the same length as the original, because the purpose is to reformulate something without omitting anything and not shortening it. In summary, on the other hand, summarizing the main ideas of another person’s work in their own words. A summary is always shorter than the original, because the idea is to just pick up the main points of the original work and leave out the insignificant. A summary is usually about one-third the size of the original.

Well, when should you rewrite and when should you summarize?

Paraphrasing if:

  • You want to use the words of another author without plagiarism
  • You want to use the words of another scribe without quotation marks
  • The ideas of the other writer are more important than his style
  • They think that the words of the other writer are too difficult for your readers

Summarize if:

  • You just want to identify the main ideas of the writer
  • You want to give a general overview of the topic (from different sources)
  • You want to simplify a complex argument
  • or want to compact the matter to meet your requirement

Whether paraphrasing or summarizing, it is very important always to quote the original work in order to acknowledge the source.


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