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3 Different Ways to Share Ideas: Quoting, Paraphrasing and Summarising

Quoting, paraphrasing and summarising are three important writing techniques for sharing original ideas. Each technique demonstrates different skills, while helping you to build up well-developed and credible arguments. In this article, we’ll look at the differences between quoting, paraphrasing and summarising, alongside the best ways to implement them into your writing.

To produce a well-written piece of work, it’s important to make use of original sources of information. By sharing the ideas of others, you’re able to develop credible and well supported points. However, to avoid plagiarism, you need to make use of a range of techniques such as quoting, paraphrasing and summarising. These techniques allow you to share source material in a way that is meaningful, engaging and well-structured. 

By implementing these writing techniques, you can improve the breadth and depth of your writing. You’ll be able to engage your reader by sharing a range of views on a subject, or draw their attention to a specific point made by someone else, that you will be expanding on. By using a mix of these techniques, you’ll be able to maintain a consistent writing style, and really tailor your work to the intended audience. 


Quoting involves sharing the author’s ideas word-for-word in quotation marks, followed by an in-text citation. It’s recommended to use this technique carefully and sparingly. 

Quoting allows you to maintain accuracy, especially when it comes to referring to the ideas of an expert. It can keep things concise, as using other techniques might not be an efficient way of conveying this idea. 

It’s best used when the author’s words hold a specific meaning or authority. This might be because their exact words are more meaningful than what was said, instead the how is being emphasised here. Alternatively, you might want to quote a leading expert to give your point credibility. Quoting is also ideal for pointing out a statement you intend to analyse, or to provide a commentary on the specific language used. 

You should always provide an explanation of your quote, and how it relates to the point you’re making. What makes it significant? What are you trying to show by sharing this? How does it add to the argument?


While quoting is certainly useful in some cases, it doesn’t demonstrate your understanding of the original source of information. One way of doing this is paraphrasing, which involves rewriting another’s ideas into your own words. This technique aims to preserve the original meaning of a small section of text. You might change the words, phrasing or sentence structure but it will always match the original source in terms of meaning. 

Paraphrasing is an ideal alternative to quoting, as the latter should be used sparingly. It might be more efficient to paraphrase if a particular quote is too long. One key indicator of when to use paraphrasing is when the exact words used aren’t as important. Sometimes, it’s useful to reword things so that you can emphasise a different point or alter the language used, while still getting across the core idea. This change of organisation is ideal for tailoring source material to your specific piece of work. It’s easier to mould complex language to a non-specialist audience, providing clarity to your ideas and the ideas of another. 

Unlike quoting, this technique highlights that you have your own well-developed understanding of the original idea. Similar to summarising, paraphrasing will allow you to maintain the original flow of your own narrative, using language that matches your piece of work and shows a depth of understanding. Paraphrasing is more detailed and specific than a summary but more flexible than quoting. 


Finally, summarising is often used if the source material to be used is too long for quoting or paraphrasing. The aim is to sum up the main ideas or findings of another piece of work. It provides a more general overview of the content, in contrast to the specificity and detail that goes into both quoting and paraphrasing. Sometimes, this is important, as details can distract your audience from the core point being conveyed. Similar to paraphrasing, you’re able to keep the flow of your own work going, by writing summaries in your own words. 

Summarising is good to use when you want to condense a source down, this might be to provide all the points relevant to your work, or to remove irrelevant details so the focus is on the core idea. This technique is the most flexible too, you could summarise a paper into one sentence, or a paragraph, it depends on what makes sense for your piece of work. You should still maintain the meaning of the source but you’re able to be more creative with changing the structure, and choosing which details do or don’t need to be included. As for all techniques, you should still cite the original source in the format relevant to your work, and be sure to demonstrate the importance of this information to your point

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