Comparing Summary vs Paraphrase – What are the Key Differences?

summary vs paraphrase

Key Takeaways: Summarizing vs Paraphrasing

How They Are Similar: Paraphrasing and summarizing are both writing techniques that allow us to use other people’s ideas without direct copying.

How They Are Different: Paraphrasing involves rewording text to create new written content with the same meaning as the original. On the other hand, summarizing condenses the text to an overview of the main points. Both require proper citation to avoid plagiarism!

Have you ever done a bunch of research, then sat down to work on a report or written document, and then realized: I don’t whether I should summarize this work or paraphrase it?

In the context of summary vs paraphrase, both techniques allow us to incorporate the ideas of others into our own work without copying them directly.

Yet, these methods are often misunderstood or misused. This article will explain these two techniques, and give examples of both. Plus, learn how you can use AI to do some of the summarizing and paraphrasing for you!

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infographic comparing summarizing and paraphrasing

Understanding Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is a powerful technique that allows us to take someone else’s words and ideas and express them in our own unique way. At its core, paraphrasing is rewriting a text to produce original content while preserving the original meaning.

It is a valuable skill that can help us better understand complex material, communicate ideas more effectively, and avoid plagiarism.

Definition of Paraphrasing

To paraphrase means to interpret and express a text in our own words, keeping the original meaning intact.

This process involves reworking the text line by line, simplifying grammar and vocabulary, rearranging words and sentences, and transforming passive expressions into active ones.

The result is a “new” text that maintains the essence of the original but is expressed in our unique way.

Uses of Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing can serve various purposes, such as clarifying a message, making it more relevant to the audience, or emphasizing specific key points.

It can also support our arguments or viewpoints, maintain a consistent writing style, and avoid lengthy citations from the original text or discourse.

Paraphrasing helps us engage more deeply with the source material and demonstrate a thorough understanding of the materials used in our research.

Understanding Summarizing

A person writing original material in their own words

To summarize means the process of concisely expressing the most pertinent facts or ideas about something, often in our own words. It is a method of condensing a large selection of complex text while retaining its essential information.

Summarizing can help us quickly grasp the key points of a text, making it easier to communicate those main points to others as a brief overview.

Definition of Summarizing

A summary distills an original text into a shorter form, focusing only on the essential elements.

Its objective is to condense information into a concise and clear summary that will be understandable for readers.

By extracting the essential ideas from a text and condensing them into a shorter version, we can more easily digest and understand the underlying message of the original work.

Summaries can be used to quickly grasp the main points of a text. They can also be used to review and recall information.

Uses of Summarizing

Summarizing is a versatile technique with many applications. It can be employed to better understand the primary concept of a written work or to condense a longer original text into a more concise version.

Summarizing is also valuable for academic writing, as it allows us to introduce background information, summarize knowledge from multiple sources on a topic, or identify the main points of a single source. Summarizing lets us focus on the most critical information and present it clearly and concisely.

Summarizing a document is a great way to save both time and energy in your life!

Key Differences

Two Woman in Black Sits on Chair Near Table

While paraphrasing and summarizing allow us to incorporate other authors’ ideas into our work, their key differences lie in their purpose, length, detail, style, and citation requirements.

Understanding these distinctions is crucial for effectively mastering and using these techniques in our writing endeavors.

The following sections will explore the differences between paraphrasing vs summarizing, exploring their unique characteristics and applications. Here’s a quick summary of the two:

Aspect Paraphrasing Summarizing
Purpose To reword text to create a new version with the same meaning. To condense a longer text into a short version that includes only the key ideas.
Length Generally similar to the original text, maintaining the same level of detail. Significantly shorter than the original, including only the most pertinent points.
Detail Includes all relevant details from the original, but with different wording. Focuses on main ideas, often leaving out less important details.
Style Uses synonyms and restructured sentences to alter phrasing. Employs a concise and focused approach, distilling only the main points.
Citation Requires proper citation to credit the original text and avoid plagiarism. Also requires citation for the same reasons, even though the summary is much shorter.


The purpose of paraphrasing is to reword a text to generate original content with the same meaning while summarizing is to condense a longer text into a significantly shorter version that conveys the key ideas.

In essence, paraphrasing focuses on rewriting the text to create a new, unique version, while summarizing aims to provide a brief overview of the original material.


Another key difference between paraphrasing and summarizing is the length of the rewritten or condensed text. A paraphrased text is generally similar in length to the original text, maintaining the same level of detail.

In contrast, a summary is significantly shorter than the original text, as it only includes the most pertinent points and necessary information.


Paraphrasing involves rewording a text to generate original content while preserving the same level of detail. In other words, a paraphrase should include all relevant details from the original text, expressed differently.

On the other hand, summarizing focuses on extracting the main ideas from the original text and condensing them into a succinct overview, often omitting superfluous details.


In terms of style, paraphrasing involves altering the phrasing of a text while maintaining the original meaning, often employing synonyms and restructured sentences.

Summarizing, conversely, involves condensing the text by focusing only on the main ideas and key points. Both techniques require using our own words and writing style, but summarizing often necessitates a more concise and focused approach.


Proper citation is essential when performing both paraphrasing and summarizing, as the idea originates from another writing.

To avoid plagiarism, it is crucial to include an in-text citation and a reference in the bibliography or works cited list, depending on the formatting style required for the assignment.

This ensures that we give proper credit to the original author and avoid any potential consequences of plagiarism.

Tips and Tricks

Now that we have a deeper understanding of the differences between paraphrasing vs summarizing, it’s important to learn how to apply these techniques effectively.

Some effective paraphrasing and summarizing tips include using unique words, representative phrases, accurate synonyms, and only including key points and essential information.

In the following sections, we will explore specific techniques for both paraphrasing and summarizing, providing practical advice for mastering these valuable skills.

Paraphrasing Techniques

Effective paraphrasing involves several techniques, such as utilizing synonyms, altering the form of words, changing the grammatical structure, modifying the sentence structure, and transforming the word class or form.

It is essential to comprehend and articulate the source material in our own words while preserving the original meaning.

By employing these techniques, we can create a well-crafted paraphrase that accurately conveys the original author’s ideas.

Summarizing Techniques

To create an effective summary, we can employ various techniques, such as selecting a short passage that supports an idea, underlining the main point, breaking down the text into sections to pinpoint essential points, and summarizing without disregarding pertinent details.

Additionally, it is crucial to compare the summary to the original text, ensuring that we have accurately captured the main ideas and essential information.

When to Use Each

A person deciding when to use paraphrasing and summarizing

Paraphrasing and summarizing are appropriate for different situations, depending on our writing goals and the specific needs of our audience. Paraphrasing is suitable when we need to better understand, communicate effectively, gain new perspectives, improve our writing, and avoid plagiarism.

Summarizing is useful when we need to condense a longer text into something that is shorter than the original, grasp the gist without context loss, identify key concepts, find information quickly, visualize the structure, and locate gaps.

By understanding when to use each technique, we can enhance our writing and effectively convey the ideas of others.

When to Paraphrase

Paraphrasing is suitable in various situations, such as avoiding plagiarism, simplifying complex concepts, or incorporating evidence and source material into our assignments.

For instance, we might use paraphrasing to explain the information contained in tables, charts, and diagrams, making them more accessible to our audience.

By employing paraphrasing effectively, we can enhance our writing and ensure that we accurately convey the ideas of others.

When to Summarize

Summarizing is appropriate when brevity is a priority or our reader requires a concise overview of the material.

For example, we might use summarizing to provide a quick synopsis of a topic, construct a backdrop, depict knowledge from multiple sources concerning a topic, or ascertain the principal notions of a single source.

By effectively summarizing, we can give our readers the essential information they need to understand the main points without overwhelming them with unnecessary details.

Avoiding Plagiarism

In academic writing, it is essential to provide proper citations when paraphrasing and summarizing to avoid plagiarism – or presenting someone else’s words or ideas as your own.

Plagiarism is a grave infraction that can lead to severe consequences, such as failing the assignment or even facing legal action.

By adhering to proper citation guidelines, we can ensure that we give proper credit to the original author and maintain our integrity as writers.

Citing Paraphrased Texts

When citing paraphrased texts, it is essential to include the original source in the first mention.

The citation should include the author’s last name and publication date. We may use the APA or MLA format depending on the assignment’s requirements.

Citing Summarized Texts

Citing summarized texts is just as important as citing paraphrased texts. According to APA 7, an in-text citation should be included when referring to, summarizing, paraphrasing, or quoting from another source.

This citation should include the author’s last name and the year of publication.

Real-Life Examples

Real-life examples of paraphrasing vs summarizing can be found in various contexts, such as rewording a news article, condensing a dialogue, or restating a research paper or essay.

These demonstrate how these techniques can be used to effectively incorporate the ideas of others without copying them directly, ensuring that our writing is both original and informative.

Using AI for Paraphrasing vs Summarizing

These days, there are so many great AI writing tools that can help you with your writing. Let’s take a look at two of my favorite AI content creation options.


Jasper home

Using Jasper to summarize or paraphrase content is easy and efficient. Follow these steps to generate a concise summary or a differently-worded paraphrase of any text:

  1. Open Jasper: Access the Jasper platform by visiting and logging into your account.
  1. Create a new document: Click on the “Create New Content” button, and then the “New Document” section to open a blank document where you can input the original text you want to summarize or paraphrase.
Jasper open a document
  1. Paste the content: Copy the text you want to summarize and paste it into the document. Make sure the content is well-structured and within Jasper’s word limit.
  1. Use the summarization command: In a new line, type a command such as “Please summarize the above content in 100 words” or “Provide a brief summary of the text above.” You can specify the desired length or ask for a brief summary, depending on your needs.

To demonstrate the Jasper summary command, I’ve taken a section from one of my articles on “How to Write Relatable Characters.” I’ve pasted it into Jasper, and I’m showing the prompt in the prompt box below.

Document-editor-Jasper summarizing
  1. Run the command: Press Ctrl+Enter (or Cmd+Enter on Mac) or click “Run Command” to run the command. Based on your command, Jasper will then generate a summarized or paraphrased version of the provided text. Here’s Jasper’s summarized version of my text:
Jasper text summary

To paraphrase, you’ll use this prompt instead:

  1. Use the paraphrasing command: Follow the steps above to access Jasper and paste your content into a document. In a new line, type a command such as “Please paraphrase the above text” or “Rewrite the text above in a witty tone of voice.”
Document-editor-Jasper paraphrasing

Here’s what Jasper gave me. Don’t forget that you can ask the program to rewrite the text in any tone you like (professional, conversational, friendly, etc.)!

Document-editor-Jasper paraphraser



WriteSonic is another AI-powered writing tool that can help you summarize content. To use WriteSonic for summarizing, follow these steps:

  1. Open WriteSonic: Visit the WriteSonic website at and log in to your account.
  1. Access the writing tools: On your dashboard, you will find various writing tools offered by WriteSonic. Look for the “Content Shorten” tool.
Writesonic Content Shorten
  1. Paste the content: Copy the text you want to summarize and paste it into the input box. Make sure the content is well-structured and within WriteSonic’s word limit.
  1. Choose summary length: If the tool provides an option to choose the length of the summary, select the desired length according to your needs.
  1. Generate the summary: Click the “Generate” button to initiate the summarization process. WriteSonic will then create a summarized version of your text based on the provided information. You can even ask Writesonic to give you multiple different versions of the output.

Here’s what I got from WriteSonic for my summary. I love how it gave me two different lengths!


Using WriteSonic to paraphrase content is a straightforward process. Follow these steps to generate a rephrased version of any text:

  1. Open WriteSonic: Visit the WriteSonic website at and log in to your account.
  1. Access the writing tools: On your dashboard, you will find various writing tools offered by WriteSonic. Look for the “Content Rephrase” tool.
Writsonic content rephrase
  1. Paste the content: Copy the text you want to paraphrase and paste it into the input box provided in the paraphrasing tool. Make sure the content is well-structured and within WriteSonic’s word limit. You can even add a tone of voice, such as “witty,” “professional,” or “creative.” For this example, I used a witty tone of voice.
  1. Generate the paraphrased text: Click the “Generate” button to initiate the paraphrasing process. WriteSonic will then create a paraphrased version of your text based on the provided information. I asked WriteSonic to give me two different versions of the paraphrased text.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, paraphrasing and summarizing are important techniques for any writer, allowing us to incorporate the ideas of others into our work without copying them directly.

Mastering the techniques involved in these methods, understanding their differences, and knowing when to use each can help you convey others’ ideas effectively.

Remember to use proper citations to avoid plagiarism and maintain your integrity as a writer. So, embrace these techniques and harness their power to create engaging, informative, and original content!

Summary vs Paraphrase Pin

Common Questions (FAQs)

Can a paraphrase be a summary?

Yes, a paraphrase can be a summary. Paraphrasing is restating someone else’s ideas in your own language. Summarizing involves reducing the essential points of someone else’s work into a shorter form. Both techniques can be used to simplify complex information or ideas.

Is paraphrasing better than summarizing?

Summarizing is generally considered to be a better option than paraphrasing. Summarizing requires you to re-write the material in your own words, but more importantly, it also encourages you to retain only the most critical elements of the original passage. This allows you to process and interpret the material more deeply.

How is summarizing different from paraphrasing?

Summarizing involves condensing an original text into its main idea and expressing it in your own words. In contrast, paraphrasing is recreating an author’s ideas in your own words while maintaining the original meaning. For example, summarizing the story of Romeo and Juliet would include mentioning the essential plot points, while paraphrasing the same story might include restating the dialogue and narration.

What is an example of a paraphrase?

Paraphrasing sentences reframe an original idea into your own words. For example, take the original statement: “Any trip to Italy should include visiting Tuscany to sample their exquisite wines.” The paraphrased material could be: “A journey to Italy wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the exquisite wines of Tuscany.”

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