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Summary and Paraphrase

Summary and Paraphrase

Author: Amee Wittbrodt
  • Understand the difference between writing a summary and writing a paraphrase.
  • Analyze the example summary.
  • Follow the steps to compose an original summary.

This packet presents information about the differences between writing a summary and writing a paraphrase. Students will read an example summary and then follow the steps to compose their own summary of an article about the future of the internet.

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Background Information

Summary  &  Paraphrase


What is summarizing?

Summarizing is how we take larger selections of text and reduce them to their bare essentials: the gist, the key ideas, the main points that are worth noting and remembering. Webster's calls a summary the "general idea in brief form;" it's the reduction of a larger work into its main ideas.  Basically, you sum up the information in your own words.

What is paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing is restating the idea in your own words.  It can be about the same length or even longer than the original passage.

What are you doing when you summarize?

You strip away the extra words and extraneous examples. You try to find the key words and phrases that, when uttered later, still manage to capture the gist of what we've read. You are trying to capture the main ideas and the crucial details necessary for supporting them.

What do you need to do?

  • pull out main ideas
  • focus on key details
  • use key words and phrases
  • break down the larger ideas
  • put it in your own words
  • write only enough to get the point across 
  • take complete notes


What are you doing when you paraphrase?

You present information from a source in your own words. You must pay close attention to the meaning of the original passage. You will frequently include a paraphrase when you need to refer to another writer’s work in the course of making your own original statements. Paraphrasing is also valuable in helping you avoid plagiarism.

What do you need to do?

  • include important ideas but not in the same order
  • keep the length the same as the original
  • change the words into language you would use
  • keep the original meaning
  • change the sentence structure- find a new way to say the same thing

Example Summary and Article

Read an example summary and then follow the steps to write your own.