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MLA Micro-course

Using hands-on practice, learn how to create in-text and Works Cited citations, as well as craft paraphrases and summaries of source material.

Questions to Consider:

  • Why (and when) is it advantageous to paraphrase an information source, rather than quote it directly?
  • How is summarizing different from paraphrasing?
  • How does a good note-taking habit help me paraphrase and summarize sources?

Paraphrasing and summarizing are writing techniques used to more seamlessly integrate sources into your paper by restating information in your own words (while still including an in-text citation). These techniques are essential to effective research writing and to avoid over reliance on direct quotes.

The most effective way to create paraphrases and summaries of source information is to take notes on your sources as you read them. If you note important ideas from the source in your own words, those notes can form the basis for paraphrases or summaries later, when writing your paper (this is also a much more effective way to learn material).

Paraphrasing involves taking a source passage and restating the idea(s) within it in your own words.

Summarizing is restating (again, in your own words) the main ideas of a longer text (such as an article, book chapter or a whole book). The summary will be significantly shorter than the original because it focuses on the most important point or points.


Study Materials:

[optional] Hands-On Activity

Read a passage from any nearby printed publication (book, textbook, magazine, etc.). Read it again and try to discern its main idea. Now attempt to summarize the main idea from that passage in your own words as if you had to explain it to someone else.