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Quoting and paraphrasing exercises

May 1, 2018

Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. Winston Churchill

Much of the work you produce at university will involve the important ideas, writings and discoveries of experts in your field of study. The work of other writers can provide you with information, evidence and ideas, but must be incorporated into your work carefully. Quoting, paraphrasing and summarising are all different ways of including the works of others in your assignments.

Your lecturers expect you to demonstrate an understanding of the major ideas/concepts in the discipline. Paraphrasing and summarising allow you to develop and demonstrate your understanding and interpretation of a text and to avoid plagiarism.

They are important tools for reshaping information to suit the many varied university writing tasks. They require analytical and writing skills which are crucial to success at university.

What are the differences?





What is a quotation? 

A quotation is an exact reproduction of spoken or written words. Quotes can provide strong evidence, act as an authoritative voice, or support a writer's statements. For example:

Critical debates about the value of popular culture often raise the spectres of Americanisation and cultural imperialism, particular issues for a 'provincial' culture. However, as Bell and Bell (1993) point out in their study of Australian-American cultural relations: "culture is never simply imposed 'from above' but is negotiated through existing patterns and traditions." (Bell & Bell 1993, p. 9)

When to quote

How to quote

Make sure that you have a good reason to use a direct quotation. Quoting should be done sparingly and should support your own work, not replace it. For example, make a point in your own words, then support it with an authoritative quote.


What is paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing is a way of presenting information, keeping the same meaning, but using different words and phrasing. Paraphrasing is used with short sections of text, such as phrases and sentences.

A paraphrase may result in a longer, rather than shorter, version of the original text. It offers an alternative to using direct quotations and helps students to integrate evidence/ source material into assignments. Paraphrasing is also a useful skill for making notes from readings, note-taking in lectures, and explaining information in tables, charts and diagrams.

When to paraphrase

Paraphrase short sections of work only; a sentence or two or a short paragraph.

How to paraphrase


What is a summary?

A summary is an overview of a text. The main idea is given, but details, examples and formalities are left out. Used with longer texts, the main aim of summarising is to reduce or condense a text to its most important ideas. Summarising is a useful skill for making notes from readings and in lectures, writing an abstract/synopsis and incorporating material in assignments.

When to summarise

Summarise long sections of work, like a long paragraph, page or chapter. 

How to summarise

The amount of detail you include in a summary will vary according to the length of the original text, how much information you need and how selective you are:

Start by reading a short text and highlighting the main points as you read.

Reread the text and make notes of the main points, leaving out examples, evidence etc.

Without the text, rewrite your notes in your own words; restate the main idea at the beginning plus all major points.

This is the first lesson of the Paraphrase Writing e-course. This is a six-part series that teaches English students paraphrase writing. If you want to learn more about why you need to learn paraphrase writing, click here.

In this exercise you will learn one paraphrasing skill: using synonyms to rewrite sentences. Here is an example.

Photo by Pseudo Victor

More than half of the women who attended the one-day meeting were in business with their spouses.

Some of the words are underlined. Use a dictionary or thesaurus to find synonyms for these words and phrases. Now rewrite this sentence with these new words and phrases.

Here is one possible answer.

The majority of the women who went to the one-day conference were in business with their husbands.

Paraphrase Writing Questions

Here are the questions for this lesson.  If you want, download the writing worksheets with the questions and answers here.

  1. Approximately

    30,000 students may be


    by the


    “free lunch” program.
  2. With the


    of flash memory cards, the


    for portable music players

    jumped sharply

  3. Although

    the coach’s



    a little dangerous

    , the team was successful.
  4. Therefore

    , the


    was an increase in student

    examination results

  5. In addition

    , a strong


    is expected

    to batter

    the coast over the next few days.
  6. The



    to combat

    climate change will require changes to the federal government’s


  7. The engineer must


    how much dynamite to use


    to the


    of material to be removed from the tunnel.
  8. Two of the students were




    the school’s “no fighting”



Download the Writing Worksheets

Click here to download the worksheet for this lesson.

Good luck. Write some of your answers in the comments section so everyone can read your writing.

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