A free, comprehensive, peer-reviewed, award-winning Open Text for students and faculty in college-level courses that require writing and research.

Joe Moxley, Founder, WritingCommons.org

Joe Moxley


Dear Colleagues and Students,

At Writing Commons, we are happy with the overall success of our project. Since 2011, when we launched at WritingCommons.org, we have hosted 6,315,882 users who have reviewed over 11 million pages. We are thrilled that students and faculty find our site to be helpful. Our ongoing mission is to be the best writing textbook possible. We also happen to be free. While we cannot perhaps claim yet that we are the best possible textbook for technical writing or creative writing courses, we are working on that.

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Summaries tend to be interpretive. They give the author's critical evaluation of the source. Would your summary differ, for example, from the following summary of The Wizard of Oz? Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first woman she meets and then teams up with three complete strangers to kill again.

Like paraphrasing, summarizing involves reporting someone else's ideas in your own language. Unlike paraphrasing, however, summaries allow you to sort through the information in the secondary source and report only what you consider to be essential. A summary is therefore much shorter than the original, whereas a paraphrase may be the same length. In addition, you do not need to cite particular pages when summarizing a source.

Below is a sample summary of the passage paraphrased in the above example:

Summarized version : In "Crime in the Suites" Mokhiber has noted that we are unsure about the prevalence of corporate crime because the federal government does not compile crime statistics for white-collar crime.

While the above passage overlooks the comparison between corporate crime and street crime, it does not misconstrue the author's original meaning, so it meets the standards of academic fairness. In contrast, a revised summary such as the following would be considered ineffective because it changes the author's meaning:

Ineffective summary: In "Crime in the Suites" Mokhiber argues that the federal government does not track corporate crime as thoroughly as it does street crime.

To fall within the purview of academic fairness, a simple change could transform the above into an effective summary:

Effective summary: In "Crime in the Suites," Mokhiber implies that the federal government does not track corporate crime as thoroughly as it does street crime.


Cassandra Branham, Editor-in-Chief WritingCommons.org

Cassandra Branham


Dear Colleagues and Students,

Welcome to Writing Commons, an open-education resource for instructors and students of writing across the disciplines. Our mission is to provide a high-quality, cost free resource to support students in the development of writing, research, and critical thinking practices.

This summer, we have been working on a site redesign in an effort to increase the usability of our site for both instructors and students. Our most significant change has been the inclusion of additional categories and subcategories to create a more intuitive hierarchy within the site.

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