Paraphrasing Vs Summarizing: Whose Side to Choose

The Importance of Paraphrasing and Summarizing

Paraphrasing and summarizing are crucial academic skills that will allow you to use other people’s arguments without plagiarize and change the length of passages. It will give you the freedom to choose how to use new arguments. However, telling the difference between the two is not always easy. That’s why you should check out this guide so that you can learn.

What Are Paraphrasing and Summarizing?

Have you ever found yourself confused about the difference between paraphrasing and summarizing? An easy place to start differentiating is with the definitions. Summarizing is summing up an argument and then restating it in your own words. You can remember this because “sum” is in the word summarizing! Paraphrasing is rephrasing individual pieces of a passage in your own words. You can remember because of “phrase” in both paraphrase and rephrase. Both of these techniques will be useful to you, but you must learn how to tell the difference.

Paraphrasing vs Summarizing

Both paraphrasing and summarizing involve restating the contents of a text in your own words. You’re changing the style of the argument, without touching the substance. For both forms you will not be inserting your own arguments or opinions about the argument; you’ll only be stating what it says. In both cases, it’s important to make sure that your text is distinct and does not copy from the original in terms of the words you use. Now, on to the question of telling them apart. As we said in the previous section, summarizing is “summing up” an argument, and paraphrasing is “rephrasing” the argument piece by piece. What you really want to remember here is that summarizing is more flexible, and paraphrasing is more structured.

When you summarize, it is permissible to change the length considerably. You can summarize a 500-page novel as a few lines – in fact, book jackets do this often! You can take a paper and turn it into a brief argument which you use to support your point. To summarize, you must consider the whole, discard the unimportant parts, and keep enough of what’s important to fill your desired length.

Paraphrasing, by contrast, is far more structured. You won’t be rephrasing the entire argument into a line here! That’s the most important thing among the list of tips for paraphrasingWhen paraphrasing, you are expected to go sentence-by-sentence or paragraph-by-paragraph. Although you can cut out unnecessary adjectives and tighten up structure so that your end product is shorter, you won’t be leaving out any pieces of the argument. For paraphrasing, all is vital. Think of it as if the argument was Lego blocks made into a structure, with the blocks representing the words. For a summary, you’ll build something with roughly the same shape, but of any size, using any blocks. With paraphrasing, you must use different blocks to build a structure of approximately the same size and shape with different blocks.

paraphrasing vs summarizing the difference

image credit:

When to Use Paraphrasing and Summarizing

So when do you use each of these skills? The main question to consider is length. It’s rare to use paraphrasing for whole passages or papers unless you’ve been asked to. Rather, you are likely to use summaries so you can boil all that text down into a smaller section. By contrast, there’s little point in summarizing a very short section, such as a single paragraph or even a single sentence. If you want to take a small piece from a paper and use it, then you must paraphrase. Using length as your guideline will rarely steer you wrong. Just remember, paraphrasing for short sections, and summarizing for long ones. You’ll soon have it down pat.

How to Excel at Summarizing and Paraphrasing

In the end, creativity will be the most efficient paraphrase help in your journey to become an excellent paraphraser. The ability to reimagine arguments as completely different will, in turn, help you practice your creativity, helping you excel even more! Restatement is good for creativity, and creativity is good for restatement. It’s an excellent relationship with no downside.

Still unsure about all this paraphrasing vs summarizing thing? Get some help from our professional services!