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Paraphrasing vs. Summarizing: the Difference

The terms paraphrasing and summarizing are often used interchangeably but they are quite different from each other. Both are taking the ideas from a source and craft them into something new for your own writing. Are you confusing them and doing your paraphrasing exercises online wrong? Read the following article!


This is a situation where you put the ideas of another author your own words without changing the meaning. As the purpose is to rephrase without leaving out anything, and not just to shorten, the paraphrase is almost the same length as the original. However, it is very important that you don’t add too many words from the original text so that you can avoid plagiarism when paraphrasing.

One to three sentences of a piece of writing is all you need when you paraphrase and this is essential for your reader to comprehend and puts in your own words. In a paraphrase, you are required to change the word order and words. In addition, you are expected to add the source in a footnote, author tag or a parenthetical citation.



This is when you use your own words to highlight the major ideas or key arguments of the original text, thereby reducing its length considerably. As the idea is to add just the key points of the original work and omit the immaterial, it is always shorter than the original. A summary is usually about 75 percent the size of the original. Summary must always be written in your own words. Summary is all about the main idea of a particular piece of writing.

How summarizing differs from paraphrasing is that summarizing is all about reducing the source material into only a few lines.

The bottom line is that credit is always given to the author, whether you are paraphrasing or summarizing. The two are indispensable writing tools and systems of incorporating ideas or works of other writers into your writing by making use of your own words. Sometimes, it becomes important to use the concepts and thoughts of other writers, despite the fact that a writer must always use his own ideas while writing. This is to:

  • Substantiate your own ideas
  • Give reasons of your agreement or disagreement with something
  • Give deepness to your writing
  • Make reference to a particular thing that led to your ideas
  • Give a point of view different from your own

Few Examples of Paraphrasing and Summarizing

difference between paraphrasing and summarizing

Image credit: Death to the Stock Photo


You can carry out paraphrasing with individual sentences or whole paragraphs. Here are few examples.

Original sentence:

“Her life covers years of hard to believe change for women.”

Paraphrased sentence:

“Elizabeth lived all through a period of invigorating restructuring for women.”

Original sentence:

“Giraffes such as Acacia leaves and hay and they can guzzle 75 pounds of food a day.”

Paraphrased sentence:

“One particular giraffe can munch about 75 pounds of Acacia leaves as well as hay each day.”

when use paraphrasing or summarizing

Original Sentence:

“Any trip to Italy should incorporate a trip to Tuscany to test its wonderful wines.”

Paraphrased sentence:

“Be sure to incorporate a Tuscan wine-tasting experience when visiting Italy.”


Original passage:

“The comic strip has had a profound influence on the culture and society of its own time, as Peanuts use to have engrossed so much of the fashionable culture which heralded it. Peanuts affect and inspire our daily lives, and not just for the reason that we can open our daily newspapers and find it there without fail. Peanuts have turned to be an essential part of the history of American culture in the course of its influence in so many areas of our life and society.”


“Peanuts have a great influence on our present-day culture.”

paraphrasing vs summarizing

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In What Cases Which Type Is Used

Paraphrase when:

  • Whenever you desire to use words of another writer without plagiarizing
  • Whenever you desire to make use of words of another writer without using quotes
  • When the ideas of the other writer are more significant than the style
  • Whenever you believe that the words of the other writer are excessively complex for your readers

Summarize when:

  • You wish to make out only the major ideas of the writer
  • You desire to provide a synopsis of the topic (from more than a few sources)
  • You want to make a difficult argument simpler
  • You want to reduce the matter to go with your prerequisite


Without mincing words, both paraphrasing and summarizing are crucial writing tools. They are methods of including the ideas or works of other writers into your writing making use of your own words.

A paraphrase is a rewording or an interpretation of a text or paragraph or text, to expand, clarify or borrow on information without plagiarizing. When writing pieces of journalism, essays and research papers, paraphrasing is an important tool to use. when writing research papers, essays, and pieces of journalism.

Contrary to paraphrasing, summarizing highlights the main points of a text. Its purpose is to provide an accurate and objective representation of the work.

Be it as it may, it is quite imperative to always cite the original work to give credit to the original source, whether you are paraphrasing or summarizing. If you have troubles doing your task – feel free to contact our article rewriter online!

Paraphrasing vs. summarizing – learn more about the differences here!