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How to summarise, paraphrase and use direct quotations.

HEAT Stage 5: Writing your assignment.

5.6 How to summarise, paraphrase and use direct quotations


What is summarising?

Summarising involves taking the main ideas from a piece of text and rewriting them in your own words. A summary is significantly shorter than the original text and tends to give an overview of a topic area.


Tips for summarising

  • Highlight the main ideas in the text you want to summarise (do not include any minor details)
  • Combine these ideas together in your own words
  • Correctly interpret the original
  • Do not include your own opinion or add extra information
  • Use your own words and not those of the original author (unless using quotation marks)
  • Remember to cite your source using a recognised referencing format
  • Keep reminding your reader that you are summarising the work of someone else:
    • The author goes on to say that ...
    • The text further states that ...


What is paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing means to rewrite an author's ideas in your own words. This still means that you have to cite the original text. Often you are referring to a text in greater detail than you would in a summary. You may only be paraphrasing a sentence or two. Paraphrasing enables you to explore and interrogate individual ideas at a deeper level.


Tips for paraphrasing

  • Read the text several times to understand the meaning
  • Extract the main idea from the sentence and think about it on its own
  • Frame the idea in a new sentence
  • You could try and structure the sentence differently (try starting with the main idea)
  • Now return to the original and make sure that the meaning is still the same and that nothing has been misinterpreted
  • Remember to cite your source using a recognised referencing format


What does it mean to use direct quotations?

Using direct quotations means to copy an original piece of text word for word. To show that you are doing this, you need to enclose all the original text in quotation marks. It can be particularly useful to directly quote an author when:

  • The author's style is clear and engaging
  • The author's views support your own exactly
  • When it is important that your reader knows exactly what an author has said about a topic

Tips for using direct quotations

  • It is best to use small quotations as it means that you can make an evaluation on a single idea rather than many ideas
  • Enclose the quotation in quotation marks (either single or double are fine, but be consistent)
  • If you do quote more than three lines of text, indent the whole quotation (you do not need quotation marks when you do this)
  • If you do not need to use all of the quotation, then you can use ellipses [...] to show that parts are missing

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