This page is designed to aid you in quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing in order to help you avoid plagiarism. These three writing techniques are often used to provide support to your writing in ways that support an argument or call attention to something. 

What are the differences between the three?

Quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing are similar in that they allow a writer to incorporate another writer's work into his or her own work. However, they are different in the methods of application.

Quotations are identical in every way to the original. To quote a source, write out the exact words in the original document and put those words in quotation marks (" "). After the quotation, there will always be an in-text citation attributing it to the original source. Quotations are at their most effective when you use them to comment on the specific wording of the original text. For example:

But while both the new and the native Americans were substantially dependent on corn, the plant’s dependence on the Americans had become total. Had maize failed to find favor among the conquerors, it would have risked extinction, because without humans to plant it every spring, corn would have disappeared from the earth in a matter of a few years. The novel cob-and-husk arrangement that makes corn such a convenient grain for us renders the plant utterly dependent for its survival on an animal in possession of the opposable thumb needed to remove the husk, separate the seeds, and plant them” (Pollan 26-27).


Paraphrasing is when you put a passage from the original source material into your own words. As with a quotation, you must do an in-text citation attributing the information back to the original source at the end of the paraphrased section. Paraphrasing usually means the section is shorter than the original passage because it is condensed. For example:

The largest factor contributing to corn’s continued existence is North American society (both pre- and post-colonial); corn needs humans far more than humans need corn. In fact, the crop would likely go extinct in a few years if it weren’t for the fact that we like it so much and work to keep it around. A corncob’s unusual shape, with all the seeds packed close together and wrapped in a husk, makes it so the plant would be unable to grow without the help of human hands (Pollan 26-27).


Summarizing is when the main ideas are put into your own words. This means that the main points of the information you are using are reworked into your own words, but the rest of it is left out. As the other two, this information also needs to be cited at the end. For example:

In The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Pollan states that the shape of a corn cob makes it almost impossible for corn to grow in the wild, because none of the individual kernels will grow as long as they are still attached to each other. He suggests that, without human intervention, corn would quickly go extinct (Pollan 26-27).


How do I use them?

To use paraphrasing, quoting and summaries, make sure that you always cite the information in-text. You can find information on this in MLA, APA, or Chicago Style pages depending on the citation style you're using. If you're using a quotation, keep it short and sweet, and always explain why you used it afterwards. Quoting should only be done sparingly in order to show your professor and audience that you have your own ideas.