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Summarizing and Paraphrasing
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To integrate someone else's material into your writing, you need to be able to summarize and paraphrase. In either case, you rephrase the author's ideas into your own words.

To summarize, you condense the original, using fewer words to convey the same major point(s). Minor details are omitted.

When you paraphrase, you restate the original idea and details, using about the same number of words.

Whether you are summarizing or paraphrasing, make sure that you retain the basic meaning and main points of the original, and do not add in any of your own thoughts. You need to keep the meaning the same, but put it entirely into your own words.

When summarizing or paraphrasing, be careful not to plagiarize. Do not carelessly borrow the author's words. You may borrow generic nouns for which there is no accurate synonym. If you can't avoid it, you can borrow small words such as articles and prepositions. But you need to find synonyms for other nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs. In addition, you need to change the sentence structure so that it differs from that of the original. Even if you only “borrow” a single phrase from the original, you can be accused of stealing someone else’s words. This problem, known as plagiarism, can cause you to earn a zero on your assignment and may even result in further academic discipline, such as being expelled from the course or program!

Another important way to avoid plagiarism is to make sure you properly cite whatever you are paraphrasing or summarizing. Even if you have put the original work completely into your own words, you still must cite the author’s last name and (if using MLA style) the page number of the original. Even though these are no longer the original author’s words, they are his or her ideas—not yours—and you must make that fact clear to your reader.

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