Difference Between Summary and Paraphrase

Main Difference – Summary vs. Paraphrase

The two terms Summary and Paraphrase often confuse us as both of them refer to similar things. Summary and Paraphrase are two essential writing tools that help us to incorporate other writers ideas and work into our writing. Although we should always use our own ideas in writing, sometimes we need another author’s work to support our arguments or to illustrate a dissimilar opinion. It is summaries and paraphrases that come to our help in such instances. The main difference between summary and paraphrase is that summary involves writing an account of the main points in brief while paraphrase involves expressing the meaning of another text in our words in order to clarify the meaning.

What is a Summary

A summary is an abridged version of a text that only contains the main points. A summary should always contain your own words though you can sometimes use a brief quotation.

The main purpose of a summary is to condense the text into a smaller text. Thus, a summary is essentially shorter than the original text. It should present the original text’s central ideas and concepts clearly and concisely. However, it is possible to omit certain facts that do not relate to your text as long as the meaning of the original text is not distorted.

In addition, the summary should only contain the original writer’s ideas and opinions. You shouldn’t give your opinions and criticism of the original text in the summary. A good summary also does not contain examples, details or unnecessary information.Difference Between Summary and Paraphrase

What is a Paraphrase

A paraphrase is a piece of writing that expresses the meaning of a text using different words. The main purpose of paraphrasing is achieving greater clarity and understanding. A paraphrase also should be written in your own words, just like in summarizing. This is the most important point you must remember in paraphrasing. You should change the words as well as the sentence structure of the original text. In addition, you must always provide a reference to the original text and author.

A paraphrase must contain all the ideas and concepts included in the original text. This means that we cannot change or omit information. Furthermore, there is no rule saying that a paraphrase has to be shorter than the original text. It can be the same length as the original, or even longer. A paraphrase is definitely shorter than a summary.

Since we have discussed the two writings separately, the difference between summary and paraphrase can be summarized as below.

Difference Between Summary and Paraphrase


A summary is a brief statement or account of the main points of a text.

A paraphrase is rewording of a text to clarify the content.


A summary is written in order to condense the text.

A paraphrase is written in order to clarify the text.


A summary is shorter than the original text and paraphrase.

A paraphrase is longer than a summary and sometimes it can be longer than the original test as well.


A summary contains only the main ideas of the original text.

A paraphrase contains all ideas and concepts of the original text.


A summary can be selective; some points can be omitted.

A paraphrase has to be specific.Difference Between Summary and Paraphrase - infographic

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