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Like paraphrasing, summarising involves communicating information from sources in your own words. Unlike paraphrasing though, summarising allows you to condense longer arguments into much shorter statements – imparting only the core ideas, the essence, or the gist from the original source.

Imagine you’re telling a friend about a movie you’ve just watched. You’re not going to try and re-enact the whole thing! Instead you’ll give a brief overview – that’s summarising. Consider the example below presenting a summary of the first Harry Potter book:

Example : Rowling tells the story of an orphaned wizard boy, thrust into the dangerous world of magic, who must overcome a range of obstacles in his first year of school with the support of his best friends.4

4 Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Remember, you must always include a reference to the original source of your summary to act with academic integrity and so that your reader can follow-up on the author’s complete argument.

Copyright statement: The content on this page is based on the Curtin University Library UniSkills Citing in your writing module which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence. Examples have been customised for Trinity but otherwise the text is the same.

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