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Library Research Skills for Land and Food Systems: 5. Paraphrasing vs. summarizing

5. Paraphrasing vs. summarizing

Paraphrasing versus summarizing

Paraphrasing: Paraphrase is defined by McMillan (2001) as an "express[ion] of certain facts and ideas in different wording - your own - but "in the same number of words as the original."

Refer to the Biology program web site ( for examples of how to paraphrase an author's idea(s) correctly. Remember, you must cite a paraphrased idea/sentence(s) in the same way in which you cite a direct quote.

Summarizing: In contrast, McMillan (2001) [1] defines summary as the "express[ion] of the important facts and ideas in fewer words than the original; for example, the abstract of a research paper is a summary." If you are summarizing an author's ideas, remember to give the author credit!


  1. McMillan, V.E. 2001. Writing papers in the biological sciences. Bedford/St. Martin's, Boston, Mass.