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CSC & IT - Computer Science and Information Technology (WO)

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Paraphrasing, Summarizing and Quoting

There are three ways to use sources in your research:

  • Quoting is using an authors exact words.  Be sure to use quotation marks " " to show which words were copied.
  • Paraphrasing is taking a small excerpt from your source and putting it into your own words.
  • Summarizing gives an overview of the main points from an entire source (e.g., and entire book or article). 

No matter how you use a source, always cite!


Here is an example showing quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing in the same short paper sample:

Since the early 20th Century, the public and experts have debated whether vaccines are effective, how they should be tested, and more recently, how public health officials should reach out to vulnerable populations (Matlesky 32). Of all the questions surrounding vaccines, however, none is more passionately argued than mandatory vaccination programs for children attending public schools. In a key 1922 case, Zucht v. King, the Supreme Court upheld states’ right to require vaccinations for children attending public schools (Matlesky 127). The Court argued that, "a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members" (Brandeis 33).

  • Quoting: The Court argued that, "a community has the right..." (Brandeis 33).
  • Paraphrasing: Specifically, they argue that vaccinations... (Shiroff and Buckland 79).
  • Summarizing: In a 2015 report by the CDC, scientists analyzed... (Bekri 346).

For more on quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing, see The Writing Center at University of Wisconsin - Madison.

Tips for Using Direct Quotes

Students often struggle with direct quoting (using an authors exact words), so keep these tips in mind:

  • Only use direct quotes when absolutely necessary. Summarize or paraphrase instead, if you can. College writing is about processing information and creating your own new ideas.
  • Quote only phrases or partial sentences, not full sentences or paragraphs, unless you are providing a critical analysis of a literary work.
  • If you provide a quote, you must also provide some analysis. What does the quote mean? Why is it important?
  • Don't make a "quote quilt" - several quotes strung together without your own ideas.
  • Aim for no more than one quote per page in your paper, unless you have a good reason to provide more.

What is the Point of Citations?

The purpose of college-level research is to locate and analyze literature created by experts in your field, then process all of the information that you found to create your own original ideas. Citations are important, because they give credit to the authors who helped you develop your ideas. Citations also give your paper authority, because they show that you have read literature on the topic and that your conclusions build upon work of other authors. When you provide proper citations, your professors will see that you understand the purpose of college-level research.

Annotated Bibliography

Are you writing an annotated bibliography?  Check out our guide: