Paraphrasing vs. Summarizing: What’s The Difference?

Paraphrased material is usually shorter than the original passage, taking a somewhat broader segment of the source and condensing it slightly. Summarizing involves putting the main idea(s) into your own words, including only the main point(s).

Paraphrasing and summarizing are two effective techniques used to elucidate and condense content into smaller, more meaningful chunks. In a world of information overload, it’s important to have the ability to accurately interpret and respond to information in a way that both conveys the main ideas and synthesizes it for others. With the increasing proliferation of digital media, which often involves large amounts of textual content, the need to effectively summarize and paraphrase is greater than ever. In this blog, we will explore the differences and similarities between summarizing and paraphrasing, and discuss why and when to use each. The goal of this post is to provide readers with an understanding of the nuances and distinctions between the two concepts, and guide them in selecting the most appropriate technique for different situations.

ESL Writing – Summarizing and Paraphrasing

What is summarizing?

The act of summarizing involves giving a concise overview of a text, presentation, or discussion. Since summarizing usually only entails repeating the key ideas or details of a text or event, you are not required to evaluate or critically assess the sources that you summarize. A summary is frequently used to communicate the highlights of a gathering or event to someone who could not attend in person. However, you can also use a summary to communicate information from a written text in a clear, understandable manner that might be able to reach more readers than the original.

What is paraphrasing?

The act of putting information or ideas from another source into your own words is known as paraphrasing. In most cases, paraphrasing also entails citing the original source from which the information in question was taken. People can paraphrase information from meetings, presentations or written texts. When you need to communicate a lot of information, paraphrasing can be especially helpful because it enables you to talk about as many specifics as you want to, frequently in fewer words. This can make it simpler to communicate specific information that may be relevant to particular people or groups.

What is quoting?

When you convey information, you are quoting when you use the same exact words that the source material did. Additionally, a citation must be included to clearly attribute the information’s original author. If you want to give a specific example to support your claims, quoting can be useful.

Paraphrasing vs. summarizing

The following are some of the main distinctions between summarizing and paraphrasing:

Level of detail

The level of detail you might include when applying each skill varies significantly between paraphrasing and summarizing. When paraphrasing, people frequently attempt to incorporate as much information as they can from the original source. This might cover general information as well as updates relevant to particular people or groups of people. For instance, one might use paraphrasing to elaborate on the details in a meeting by providing succinct justifications for each point of discussion.

Contrarily, summarizing typically makes use of just the most crucial information from an original source. Making sure that a summary is easy to read and contains only pertinent details will help readers quickly grasp the most important information because effective summaries are condensed. For instance, if someone wants to give a summary of a general sales meeting to a member of the marketing team, they might concentrate on giving information about marketing initiatives and avoid discussing the meeting’s aspects like sales or production.


The reason for using each skill can be another way that summarizing and paraphrasing differ from one another. Both abilities have uses that are more specialized than providing information to someone who cannot access the original source For instance, a lot of people use paraphrasing to condense information from the original source. When complex ideas appear in a presentation or document that some readers might not be familiar with, this can be helpful. In these circumstances, being able to restate the facts in your own words can assist in making them more understandable to a larger audience.

The goal of summarizing is typically to draw attention to and discuss the key points from an original source. Most summaries do this by skipping over supporting details in order to keep the summary succinct and scannable. As their goal is to remember the most crucial details from a source and present them to readers for their own interpretation, summaries may therefore contain complex information or specialized details without explaining or simplifying the original material.


Another distinction between summarizing and paraphrasing is the size of the final written product produced by each method. When someone paraphrases a piece of writing, it usually ends up being about the same length as the original work. The length of someone’s paraphrased notes can match the duration of a meeting or presentation if they summarize the proceedings. This is due to the fact that the objective of paraphrasing is typically to discuss every point raised in the original source in your own words.

A summary, however, is typically much shorter than the original source of the information. Because the purpose of a summary is to discuss only the main points from the original source, summaries, particularly when summarizing written documents, can often be much shorter than their original document. The same phenomenon occurs when summarizing events or live presentations; by concentrating only on the essential information, a brief document is typically produced rather than a lengthy one that covers every detail of the event.

Paraphrasing vs. summarizing in the workplace

Summarizing and paraphrasing can be helpful in a variety of situations at work. Because paraphrasing enables you to take into account all the information presented by an original source, you might use it to capture the details from a meeting that one of your coworkers is unable to attend. In the workplace, summarizing can be helpful because you can use it to communicate the main ideas of a presentation or written source, like a training manual or company handbook.

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