Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing are all different ways of including evidence and the ideas of others into your assignments. Using evidence from credible sources to support your thesis is an important part of academic writing. Citing the source of any quote, paraphrase, or summary is an important step to avoid plagiarism.

Should I quote, paraphrase, or summarize?

Quoting is common in lower levels of academic writing, but at the college level, quoting directly should be done sparingly and only when paraphrasing will not justify the meaning of the original author. It is not uncommon to have only 1 or 2 (or even zero) direct quotes in an academic paper, with paraphrased information being used instead.

Some common examples of when you might quote instead of paraphrase include:

  • using exact statistics or numerical data
  • when writing about literature and providing textual evidence from the poem, story, etc.
  • including a judge’s decision or reasoning on a court case
  • providing a definition

*Overquoting is a common problem in academic writing and as you move further into your education, you will be expected to paraphrase instead of quote.

Paraphrasing is what you should do most commonly in academic writing. Paraphrasing is preferred over quoting (other than in the specific examples provided above) because it shows that you understand the outside material you are using and it gives you more agency over your paper by allowing you to explain the expert opinions, research studies, or other evidence to your reader as it relates to your topic and thesis. Paraphrasing will also provide a lower Turnitin score than quoting since it incorporates your own academic voice

Summarizing is reserved for when you need to provide your reader with broad background information or a general overview of a topic, theory, practice, or a literary work or film. A short summary might be included in an introductory paragraph or in the first body paragraph, which may focus on providing a general overview of the topic. Most body paragraphs will include paraphrases and/or quotes rather than a summary.

How do I properly integrate and cite a quote, paraphrase, or summary?

A direct quote or a paraphrase is most commonly used in the body paragraphs of a paper and more specifically, in the supporting sentences of the body paragraph.

*Quotes should be reserved only as needed, paraphrasing whenever possible. See information above on whether you should quote, paraphrase, or summarize.

Using the ICE method (Introduce, Cite, and Explain) will help you to integrate and cite your evidence from outside sources.

Introduce any quote, paraphrase, or summary by illustrating how the coming information is related to the topic of the paragraph, stating the original author, and using a signal verb before including the actual quote, paraphrase, or summary. According to APA guidelines, signal verbs should be written in the past tense, while in MLA, signal verbs should be present tense.

For Example

In the following example, the student has illustrated how the coming quote is an example of the topic of the paragraph and has then provided the author’s name along with a signal verb to show whose original idea this is.

One such example of a paradox can be seen in Cormac McCarthy’s 2006 novel The Road when he stated: "You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget" (p. 12).

Provide an in-text citation any time you include a quote, paraphrase, or summary from an outside source. Any direct quote also needs to be placed in quotation marks (" "). If you are quoting longer passages (more than 40 words), please see our Block Quotation guide.

If you use several sentences of information from a source, the correct way to provide citation is to cite after the first use of the source and then make it clear that each following sentence is from the same source, avoiding repeating the same citation in every sentence. For example: This relationship is illustrated in a research study by Garcia (2021) stating…. This study also shows that…. Additionally, Garcia suggests....

For help with citing properly, see our guides on:

After including evidence from an outside source, you will then need to provide your own explanation or insight as to why the quote or paraphrase is important as it relates to your topic sentence or thesis. To help with your explanation, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why is this information important, significant, or meaningful?
  • How does this evidence relate to your thesis?
  • What can you conclude from this information you’ve included here?
  • What is your interpretation of the information? How do you understand it?

Never leave any room for interpretation. It is your responsibility as the writer to explain the quoted or paraphrased information for your reader.

Tips to help you put others’ words into your own words


When you paraphrase, you keep the same meaning of the original text, but you restate the meaning in a way that it makes sense to you. Paraphrasing should be the primary way of presenting information from a source.

When paraphrasing:

  • DO NOT use paraphrasing software--it does not create accurate paraphrases and can create meaningless communications.
  • Read the text carefully. Be sure you understand the text fully.
  • Put the original text aside and write your paraphrase in your own words. Considering each point of the original text, how could you rephrase it if you were explaining it to one of your classmates who hadn’t read it?
  • Do not simply replace every third or fourth word of the original passage. This is a form of plagiarism.
  • Review your paraphrase. Does it reflect the original text but is in your own words and style? Did you include all the main points and essential information?
  • Include an in-text citation in the expected formatting style (APA, MLA, etc.)  
  • Explain why the paraphrased information is important. To do so, ask yourself the following questions:
    • What am I trying to show or prove with this information?
    • Why is it important to what I am saying? What is its significance?
    • How does this information add to what I am trying to prove in this paragraph?
For Example

Original paragraph from Nancy Woloch's book, Women and the American Experience: A Concise History:

“The feminization of clerical work and teaching by the turn of the century reflected the growth of business and public education. It also reflected limited opportunities elsewhere. Throughout the nineteenth century, stereotyping of work by sex had restricted women's employment. Job options were limited; any field that admitted women attracted a surplus of applicants willing to work for less pay than men would have received. The entry of women into such fields—whether grammar school teaching or office work—drove down wages.”

Paraphrased version (using an APA in-text citation):

According to Nancy Woloch (2002) in Women and the American Experience: A Concise History, the “feminization” of jobs in the nineteenth century had two major effects: a lack of employment opportunities for women and inadequate compensation for positions that were available. Thus, while clerical and teaching jobs indicated a boom in these sectors, women were forced to apply for jobs that would pay them less than male workers were paid.


If summarizing, state the overall main idea in your own words, but leave out specific examples and details. A summary should provide general information only and it is not commonly used for presenting evidence to support your argument.

When summarizing:

  • Start by reading the text and highlighting the main points as you read.
  • Reread the text and make notes of the main points, leaving out examples, evidence, etc.
  • Without the text, rewrite your notes in your own words. Restate the main idea at the beginning of your summary plus all major points. Include the conclusion or the final findings of the work.
  • Include an in-text citation in the expected formatting style (APA, MLA, etc.)


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