Virginia has been a university English instructor for over 20 years. She specializes in helping people write essays faster and easier.
- Summary: tells the main idea of a piece of writing. The summary is always shorter than the main text and leaves out details that aren't important to the paper you are writing. You always write a summary in your own words.
- Quotation: uses the exact words of the writer and puts them in quotation marks. However, you need to include that quotation inside a sentence of your own which tells who said it and why it is important to your argument.
- Paraphrase: takes 1-3 sentences of a piece of writing which is important for your reader to understand (usually it is writing which is difficult or has technical language) and puts it into your own words. You need to change both the words and the word order in a paraphrase. You also include the source in an author tag, a footnote, or a parenthetical citation.
How to Write a Summary
- Read the article carefully.
- Underline the main ideas as you read, or write them on a separate piece of paper.
- Re-read the underlined sections and decide the main idea of the article.
- If you are using a summary in your own paper, think about how that summary will help you prove a point in your paper.
- Re-write the main idea in your own words. Include the details which help you prove your point.
- Start with an author tag which includes the first and last name of the author and the title of the article. In a paper, if you have already told this information, then start the first sentence of the summary telling the author's last name and then conclude the summary with a parenthetical quotation using the author's last name and page, like this: (Tannen 2).
In “Sex, Lies and Conversation; Why is It So Hard for Men and Women to Talk to Each Other?” linguist Deborah Tannen suggests that the problems of communication in marriage can be solved if couples learn that men and women have different styles of communication. Tannen notes that research shows that women create intimacy in relationships through looking at one another, sharing similar problems, and interrupting by making supportive comments or sounds; however, she reports that this type of communication style often makes men feel threatened and like women are not listening to them. Instead, Tannen reports that men, because of their need to relate inside a hierarchy in other same-sex relationships, see support in a conversation as telling someone the problem isn’t so bad or finding a way to fix it. Women, Tannen says, feel that sort of communication as intimidating and unsympathetic. What is the solution? According to Tannen, teaching men and women each other’s conversational styles can help people understand what the other person is trying to communicate and head off misunderstandings, which can strengthen marriage relationships, and prevent divorce (Tannen 2-4).
Deborah Tannen wrote this article about her book, Men, and Women in Conversation for The Washington Post, June 24, 1990. Tannen is a linguistics professor who has written several popular books using her analysis of communication styles to help people understand how to communicate more effectively with people of the opposite sex, family members, and people of different cultures.
Here is a link to the original article: Sex, Lies and Conversation; Why Is It So Hard for Men and Women to Talk to Each Other?
3 Important Tips
- Use Author Tags: Use the first and last name of the author and the title of the work the first time you mention a source. After that, you can use the author's last name or a synonym.
- How often do you need an author tag? You need to let the reader know when you are using information from a source by using an author tag, a footnote, or a parenthetical citation. It is helpful to use the author tag in each sentence of a summary but not necessary. You do need it in the first and last sentences to signal the reader that you are beginning and ending the summary.
- Use Question Sentences: Consider using a question, especially if you are having trouble figuring out how to move to the final point or main idea of the article. Question sentences can help you to pull your summary together and point towards the most important ideas.
Author Tag Table
|Words for author||Words for Said||Words for said|
full name of author (first time only)
last name of author
their profession, for example "the scientist" or "the professor"
A quotation is putting "The exact words someone said between quotation marks."
Don't overuse quotations in your writing. Most of the time, it is better to summarize or paraphrase. What should you quote?
Authority: Quote when the words are said by someone who has authority on the subject or is an important public figure whose words on that issue are important to know (like Martin Luther King talking about Civil Rights, or President Obama talking about world affairs).
Famous Saying: Quote a famous saying or a sentence that would lose a lot if said in different words.
Authoritative Source: Quote an authoritative text like the Bible, a poem, or a legal decision if they exact words are important to know, or your essay is going to analyze the words of the quotation in detail.
Needed for Analysis: If you are going to argue for or against the way something is worded or phrased, then you may need to quote rather than paraphrase. An example is when you are analyzing literature, or evaluating the wording of an advertisement.
How to Quote Correctly
- Use quotes for short amounts of information. Unless you have a very good reason to use a longer quote, you should usually limit quotes to 1 sentence or less.
- Don’t quote too often. Usually, I ask students to use no more than 1 quote for every 2 pages of a paper.
- Make sure you include author tag (who said it and where), or a parenthetical citation (or footnote).
- Explain why this quote helps prove your idea. Don't assume the quote will make your point. Tell the reader why this quote helps your argument.
- Include a quote in your sentence. Don’t just put the quote on its own in your paper without putting it in your sentence. Example:
- Correct: As Shakespeare said, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be."
- Incorrect: "Neither a borrower nor a lender be."
Examples of Quoting Correctly
1. If you are mentioning a source for the first time, you include the name of the author and article.
Deborah Tannen in “Sex, Lies, and Conversation; Why is It So Hard for Men and Women to Talk to Each Other?” explains women also need to learn to communicate differently with men because “Women’s conversational habits are as frustrating to men as men’s are to women.”
2. Afterward, you only mention the author’s last name if you use the source again.
Tannen explains women also need to learn to communicate differently with men because “Women’s conversational habits are as frustrating to men as men’s are to women."
3. Parenthetical Citation in MLA. If you mention the author's name, you don't necessarily need to add a parenthetical citation unless the article has many pages and you want to add the page number. However, if you are mentioning several articles by the same author in your paper, you need to tell which one in the parenthesis.
Tannen explains women also need to learn to communicate differently with men because “Women’s conversational habits are as frustrating to men as men’s are to women" (Sex, Lies and Conversation 2).
Reword 1-3 sentences in your own words to make them easy to understand.
How to Paraphrase
- Often longer than original (not shorter, like a summary)
- Used for short sections, 1-3 sentences, not more.
- The language is simple, or the same as your own writing in the rest of the paper.
- You need to include author tags.
- You do need to explain how it supports your argument, but this does not have to be inside the paraphrase itself (use sentences before and after).
Reasons to Paraphrase
- For Important Concepts: You need to use a paraphrase rather than summary when you need to explain in depth a very important concept from an article for your reader.
- For Difficult Source Material: Use paraphrase rather than quoting if your source article is difficult to understand and you want to explain it clearly in easier language so your reader gets the point.
- For Important Information: When you need to explain all of the information in the source and not just the main ideas like you would in a summary.
Note: Italics are my original argument which leads up to the use of the paraphrase. This shows you how paraphrase can be used in your paper.
How is it possible to solve the problem of divorce in American? Some people suggest that the problem is that women are not asserting their rights. Others think that men need to step up to the plate and be more considerate of their spouses. However, another way to look at the problem is to see why men and women are having trouble communicating effectively. Deborah Tannen in “Sex, Lies, and Conversation; Why is It So Hard for Men and Women to Talk to Each Other?” suggests that solving problems in communication between men and women in marriage is not a matter of changing techniques. Instead, she suggests that we need to help marriage partners have a new way of thinking about how they speak and listen to one another. Tannen says that accusing women for not speaking up, or men for not expressing themselves doesn’t help matters. Instead, she suggests we teach men and women to understand the different ways the other gender communicates so that they can better understand what the other person is saying and resolve differences instead of placing blame.
"The communication problems that endanger marriage can't be fixed by mechanical engineering. They require a new conceptual framework about the role of talk in human relationships. Many of the psychological explanations that have become second nature may not be helpful because they tend to blame either women (for not being assertive enough) or men (for not being in touch with their feelings). A sociolinguistic approach by which male-female conversation is seen as cross-cultural communication allows us to understand the problem and forge solutions without blaming either party."
Questions & Answers
Question: What is paraphrasing?
Answer: Paraphrasing is rewriting a small section of text in your own words. A paraphrase may be longer than the original article because it sometimes takes more words to explain something complicated in simple terms. Paraphrasing should sound like your writing, and not like something written by an expert. It should clearly convey the information from the original, and not just summarize the main points.
Question: What is an inversion in literature?
Answer: Inversion is reversing the most common way a phrase is written and it is common in poetry. Another word for this is “anastrophe." Usually this is done to create a particular effect and to startle the reader into thinking about something in a different way. Here are some examples:
house homey (adjective after the noun)
yells the child (verb before noun)
nature between (noun before preposition)
Question: How do you describe the author's point of view?
Answer: You use statements like this:
Most probably, the author intended XX.
This piece was written using the (choose: first person, omniscient, limited omniscient, personal, third person) point of view.
From the point of view of the author, the meaning of this passage is XX because of XX. We know this because the author says XX.
Question: What is "writing style?"
Answer: Writing style is the way something is written to be persuasive to the audience. It can also mean the kind of writing that is done: persuasive, explaining (expository), descriptive, evaluative, narrative, or causal. Writing style involves the type of language that is used (humorous, sarcastic, pedantic, scholarly, colloquial), the length of sentences (short and informal, long and complicated), and the type of sentence structure ] (straightforward subject-verb, lots of transitions to link sentences, complicated sentences with lots of qualifying phrases). Words that are used to describe writing style include tone, mood, and imagery.
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on August 06, 2020:
Hi Sana, the examples are included inside the article as well as the definition. I also have a variety of other articles that give samples of summaries. You can find these under my profile or by searching on Google using my name and "sample summary."
sana tariq on August 04, 2020:
what are the examples of summary?
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on January 15, 2018:
Thanks mapcole for catching that typo so that I could correct it!
mapcole on January 14, 2018:
The word "admitts" under the list of other verbs for "said" is misspelled. It's "admits."
FlourishAnyway from USA on March 07, 2014:
Great examples and tips! Congratulations on HOTD. A well deserved accolade on a nicely researched and written piece.
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on March 07, 2014:
Thanks Heidi--I'm kind of surprised myself. I do love that photo of the older couple that I used at the start of this Hub. I am very happily married myself to a wonderful guy but I think all of us have a few days in marriage (or any relationship) where we feel that way!
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on March 07, 2014:
DzyMsLizzy--great comment because you are right about the ibid and op cit from using footnotes. My goodness, you were bringing me back to my high school papers! I'm guessing you are like me and did all of those on a typewriter! Wasn't it hard to get the spacing correct, and didn't all the English teachers worry us a lot about getting those margins exactly right? Computers make things so different. In the MLA format which I teach and which is used in most English classes in the U.S., we don't use those because there aren't footnotes and the ending parenthetical citation is easy to do with the author's last name and page number.
Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on March 07, 2014:
Congrats on HOTD!
It has been a very long time since I had to write a paper as an assignment. Here on Hub Pages, the writing style is less formal, though your points about "how to" and attribution still hold.
In a paper, though, I am wondering whether these protocols supersede the old "ibid" and "op cit" which we were taught back in my day, when quoting material from the same source. Those were usually done as footnotes, with the full details in the bibliography.
Voted up, interesting and useful.
Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on March 07, 2014:
Good tips! Congrats on Hub of the Day! Well deserved.
Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on March 07, 2014:
This would be really good for teaching these concepts as well as learning how to write a summary for students. Good job, and congratulations!
raeyecarlos on March 07, 2014:
This is something I'd love to share with my kids in our English class. Well written!
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 22, 2014:
Voted Useful. Thank you for another good lesson for us, writers.
Christy Kirwan from San Francisco on January 20, 2014:
This is such a great guide for writers, Virginia! I really like that you include tips on when it's appropriate to use each type of reference.
Lori Colbo from United States on January 20, 2014:
This is very helpful to me. I love your practical, instructive hubs. Keep it up!