Handwritten Note-Taking and Technology

With the creation of the laptop, handwritten note-taking has slowly started to become less common. With laptops becoming more affordable, students have started to integrate them into their studying habits and routines. However, does newer always mean better?  In this post, I’ll take a look at the evidence to see why writing by hand is a more effective form of note taking.  But, in knowing that students are using computers for note taking, I will also discuss how students can bridge the gap between handwritten note-taking and the use of technology in the classroom.

An integral part of all note-taking is the idea of working memory. Working memory is defined as “the ability to temporarily hold and manipulate limited amounts of information” (Bui & Myerson, 2014, p. 13). The use of working memory is how students process information in lecture: we listen to the professor, think about what he or she says, and reshape the information into a context or wording we understand best. This raises the question: Is it better to take notes by hand or by using a laptop? As Stacy and Cain (2015) note, “Muller and Oppenheimer concluded that students who took notes on a laptop did not remember conceptual material as well as those who took handwritten notes…” (p. 2). This finding suggests that to retain concepts and theories at a more efficient level, handwritten notes are recommended.  Handwriting your notes allows you to actually synthesize the information, whereas trying to copy the words your professor is saying verbatim does not. To explain this, let us take a look at Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy.

bloomsBloom’s Revised Taxonomy bases thinking skills on a spectrum. Higher skills on the spectrum are activities like creating and evaluating, and lower skills are remembering and understanding (Forehand, 2005). So, those of us who type notes may be good at remembering the material covered in lecture. We may be able to recall facts easily.  However, those of us who write notes by hand may be much better at understanding the material covered in lecture. We are able to process the information first and comprehend what the professor is saying, so we can then write it down in manageable chunks.  This leads to learning the material at a deeper level of understanding than merely relying on trying to capture the professor’s words verbatim as the professor says them.

Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California took on the task to further study the impact of laptop note-taking versus handwritten note-taking on students’ education. In three separate studies, Mueller and Oppenheimer (2014) found that students who used the handwritten note-taking style outperformed their laptop-using counterparts when it came to conceptual-application questions. Conceptual-application questions are questions dealing with concepts and theories learned in lecture and how they can be applied in real world situations (i.e., the understanding and applying levels of Bloom’s).  In one of those three studies, it was also found that handwritten note-takers did better when faced with factual-recall questions, as compared to students taking notes with a laptop. Factual-recall questions are used to test your ability to remember certain bits of information (i.e., the remembering level of Bloom’s). The article goes as far as even stating: “The studies we report here show that laptop use can negatively affect performance on educational assessments – or perhaps especially – when the computer is used for its intended function of easier note taking,” (Mueller and Oppenheimer, 2014, p. 8). The evidence shows that the use of laptops as note-taking machines is actually hindering our ability to learn and understand concepts. The staples we as students learn in university are theories and concepts, and with many of us using laptops to take notes, we may be actually hurting our own education and learning.

Now, before you start thinking that technology is terrible in the lecture halls and that we should all throw out our laptops, let’s get into the ways where we can use technology to our advantage in the classroom. Technology can be a great thing; it provides us with large amounts of storage in one convenient location, it allows us access to the internet where we can learn more about the subjects we are studying, and it allows us to share and collaborate on our work. I’ve given some thought to ways that we can get the benefits of handwritten note-taking while keeping our notes stored in a convenient place and having them remain easily accessible. Here are a few ideas:


laptopTablets are one of the most convenient forms of portable technology currently available. They are light, small, and usually as fast as the average laptop. However, when it comes to the purpose of education, they have an added bonus that most laptops do not have: they have a touchscreen display. This allows the user to interact with the tablet without a keyboard. If you get a stylus and a note-taking application, you can take your notes by hand, reaping the learning benefits, while being able to store your notes in a convenient and easily accessible place.

Rocketbook Wave Smart Notebook

notepadThis is one of the more interesting designs for a notebook. The Rocketbook Wave is a notebook that allows you to scan your notes directly onto cloud services like Google Drive or Evernote using a smartphone. The notebook uses little symbols located on the bottom of the page that you can set up to go to specific locations.

As well, if you want to improve the longevity of this notebook, use erasable pens. Erasable pens’ ink is removed by heat, so the wonderful people who designed this made the notebook microwave safe so that you can stick it in the microwave (with a mug on top of the notebook) and completely clear your notebook of notes.

LiveScribe Echo Smartpen

smartpenThe LiveScribe Echo Smartpen is a pen that records what you write as you write it.  It comes with internal storage, enabling it to record thousands of pages of notes. Those notes can then be transferred onto your computer via USB. This allows you to take your notes in class and then store them on your computer without typing out your notes or scanning them.




Whether you are taking notes by hand, using a laptop, or using some of the other options listed above, note-taking can still be difficult for some students. If you feel that you would like to improve your note-taking skills or want to learn a different way of note-taking, feel free to book a study skills appointment at the Centre for Student Success here. We are always here to help, and we look forward to seeing you!



Peer Mentor

Works Consulted

Bui, D.C. & Myerson, J. (2014). The role of working memory abilities in lecture note-taking. Learning and Individual Differences, 33, 12-22.

Forehand, M. (2005). Bloom’s taxonomy: Original and revised. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved November 29, 2016, from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/

Mueller, P.A. & Oppenheimer, D.M. (2014).  The pen is mightier than the keyboard: Advantages of longhand over laptop note taking. Psychological Science: 1-10. doi: 10.1177/0956797614524581

Stacy, E.M. & Cain, J. (2015). Note-taking and handouts in the digital age. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 79 (7), 1-6.

Posted in General, Note Taking | Leave a comment

What Everyone Should Know about Group Studying

Here at the Centre for Student Success, we offer students the opportunity to attend facilitated study group sessions for certain courses. These are one hour long discussions where students come together to offer their interpretations of course concepts, clarify ideas, and hear suggestions on better study and note-taking skills. We even go over practice questions! We offer this service because we believe in the benefits of studying in a group.  So, whether it is by participating in a facilitated study group on campus or by forming your own study group with classmates, your time spent studying with a group can be really helpful to you.

As students ourselves, we understand the busy schedules many students face every day. Many students wonder why you should spend an extra hour per week on a course you already attend 3 hours of lecture on and spend even more time doing weekly readings. The answer is in the research.

The benefits of group study have been shown to help students not just academically, but also socially. Yes, it is possible to be social and study at the same time! Fleet, Goodchild, and Zajchowski (2006) suggest that study groups improve students’ ability to work in collaboration with others and help students form social connections that are vital to their success in university. Having a social network of fellow university students is handy: they can help remind each other of upcoming tests or assignments that otherwise could have been forgotten (Fleet et al., 2006). (Remember when you almost forget that online quiz you were supposed to do?) Social connections are also useful for discussing assignment instructions, comparing lecture notes, or suggesting outside services and resources that could be helpful for a particular course (Fleet et al., 2006). Study groups are a great way to make these social connections that ultimately help you academically in the long run.


Kenneth Petress (2004) further looked at the social benefits of study groups and found that they may even help one affectively. Affective benefits relate to how you feel and express your feelings. Some of the affective benefits of study groups include increased self-confidence, increased assertiveness used to express ideas, as well as fine-tuned interpersonal communication skills (Petress, 2004). All these skills, he notes, are transferable to other tasks, roles, and jobs.  That’s right–the skills you practise in study groups can even help land you that dream job!

In addition to the social benefits of study groups, research has also shown that they help students academically. Petress (2004) notes that simply explaining what you know to another student could help solidify that knowledge for you. What further supports your learning in study groups is answering probing questions (Petress, 2004). Working through answers in study group can help to decrease exam related stress since you become more aware and confident in what you know (Petress, 2004). Study groups have been found to help to enrich students’ learning and increase motivation in students (Fleet et al., 2006).

Still not convinced you should try studying in groups rather than by yourself? Well, one last benefit is that group study has been shown to be more effective in completing tasks, decision making, and generating solutions than when individuals work on their own (Hay, Bochner, Dungey, & Perret, 2012). So, if you could use some extra motivation to get work done, a study group may do the trick.

Ultimately, the most important factor to ensure a study group’s success is that independent, individual studying should take place prior to the group meeting. Students will get more out of facilitated study groups or their own study groups if they have attended the lectures, done the readings for their course, or engaged in some individual review beforehand.

In our first semester of leading facilitated study groups, we have seen evidence of these benefits in our sessions. The social benefit of getting different perspectives was shown when a group of students worked together to generate ideas for an assignment and when students shared lecture notes with each other.  Also, when a student showed up late to study group and another student summed up the past few minutes, it demonstrated the positive impact teaching others can have on one’s own learning.  These are all examples of the social connections made that can positively impact academic success.

To fully enrich your learning here at Laurier, we would fully recommend you form study groups and attend facilitated study groups for any of your courses for which they are offered. We have several exam review sessions planned for this term:

Date Time Topic FSG Leader
Monday, December 12th 1-3 pm BF190 Sarah
Thursday, December 15th 1-3 pm BF199 Sarah
Thursday, December 15th 5-7 pm EC120 Jennie
Friday, December 16th 2-4 pm PS101 Sarah
Monday, December 19th 5-7 pm BU127 Jennie

In the winter semester, study groups will be held for BF 190, BF 199, PS 102, EC140 and MB217.

We hope to see you there!

Signing off,

Your Friendly Neighborhood FSG Leaders



Fleet, J., Goodchild, F., & Zajchowski, R. (2006). Learning for success: Effective strategies for students (4th edition). Toronto, ON: Nelson

Hay, I., Bochner, D., Dungey, C., & Perret, N. (2012). Making the grade: A guide to study and success. Don Mills, ON: OUP Canada.

Petress, K. C. (2004). The benefits of group study. Education, 124(4), 587-589.



Posted in Exams, Facilitated Study Group, General, Studying | Leave a comment

What’s New in the 8th Edition of MLA Style?

Recently, the Modern Language Association published an 8th edition of MLA citation style. If you were already familiar with MLA style, you may be thinking, do I need to change how I use MLA style? The short answer is yes and no. The 8th edition of MLA style did make some changes, but many elements will still look very similar. The good news is that the updates in the 8th edition MLA were mainly to simplify the referencing process. In this blog post, I’m going to share some of the key changes and show you an example of developing a citation in the latest edition.

Note: In the Centre for Student Success, we recognize that not everyone is going to be ready to transition to the 8th edition, so we have both a 7th edition and an 8th edition MLA handout available. If you’re unsure of what edition to use, clarify with your professor.

What Changed?

In previous editions of MLA, you might have been used to memorizing a specific format based upon the source that you were referencing. For the most part, each source had elements in its citation that were specific to that source.  This is where the biggest change between the 8th edition and previous editions of MLA is. The Modern Language Association recognized that the source by source format was overcomplicating the referencing process, so they have now introduced a standard format that can be used for all types of sources. Now the MLA provides a base format and asks users to fill in the information available and relevant to their source.

The basic format outlined by the MLA looks like this:

Author. “Title of source.”  Title of container, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.

(Modern Language Association 20).

You might remember adding a publication city in previous editions of MLA, but in the 8th edition location doesn’t mean a physical location, but rather the location of the work itself. In this spot you would put page numbers for printed works or the URL or DOI for online sources (Modern Language Association 46). Since the location section tells the reader what format your source was in, the 8th edition doesn’t ask for “print” or “web” anymore.

Let’s Practice

To show how to use the new 8th edition MLA, I will show an example using the following article:


Here is the base format again and now we’ll fill it in with The Star article’s information.

Author. “Title of source”. Title of container, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.

Author: This article has a clear author, Darren Calabrese, so we can fill in the author spot.

Calabrese, Darren. “Title of source”. Title of container, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.

Title of source: For a news article like this one, this section is going to be the title of the article, which is Postal Workers’ Union Rejects Binding Arbitration as Lockout Deadline Extended.

Calabrese, Darren. “Postal Workers’ Union Rejects Binding Arbitration as Lockout Deadline Extended”. Title of container, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.

Title of Container: This section is the larger work that something is published within. For this article it would be Thestar.com.

Calabrese, Darren. “Postal Workers’ Union Rejects Binding Arbitration as Lockout Deadline Extended”. Thestar.com, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.
Other Contributors: This is the place where you could put in other people credited for the work such as editors, producers etc. For this article we don’t have anything to put here so we would skip that part and move onto the next relevant element.

Version: Typically, newspapers don’t have a version, so this would be left out of this particular citation. Commonly, this element applies to journal articles or books with multiple editions.

Number: This also does not generally apply to newspaper articles. This section is for a volume number, which is most often seen in journal articles and books.

Publisher: Here we’ll add in the publisher. This is usually a corporation. For the article we’re using the publisher would be Toronto Star Newspapers, which I found at the bottom of the webpage.

Calabrese, Darren. “Postal Workers’ Union Rejects Binding Arbitration as Lockout Deadline Extended”. Thestar.com, Toronto Star Newspapers, Publication date, Location.

Publication Date: This one is pretty straightforward. Fill in as much of the date as is available and format it day/month/ year. We have the full date available for this article so we would include all elements.

Calabrese, Darren. “Postal Workers’ Union Rejects Binding Arbitration as Lockout Deadline Extended”. Thestar.com, Toronto Star Newspapers, 7 July 2016, Location.

Location: Since we have accessed this article online and newspaper articles don’t have DOIs, we will give the URL as the location of this source.

Calabrese, Darren. “Postal Workers’ Union Rejects Binding Arbitration as Lockout Deadline Extended”. Thestar.com, Toronto Star Newspapers, 7 July 2016, www.thestar.com/business/2016/07/07/canada-post-lockout-deadline-extended-until-monday.html

Now that we’ve filled in all the elements relevant to our source, our citation is complete. With the addition of a new base format for all sources, sourcing in MLA style has become even easier.  For a more in depth discussion of the 8th edition of MLA style, check out our handout or visit us in the Centre for Student Success.

Chelsey Kerr

Summer Intern



Work Cited

Modern Language Association of America. MLA Handbook, 8th ed. 2016, pp. 1-146.

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Tips for Successfully Writing Long Answer Tests

Most students breathe a sigh of relief when the professor outlines a multiple choice exam on the syllabus, but what about the dreaded long answer exam? When this style of exam is announced it is often met with panic and concern from students, because they know they will have to demonstrate a deep understanding of the material. As I progressed further in my university career, multiple choice tests became a rarity and I quickly had to learn how to prepare for the new expectations that came along with long answer style tests. Through my experiences and some additional advice from learning professionals, I have some tips for successfully writing long answer tests.

Bloom’s Taxonomy and Long Answer Tests

Before we get into my tips for success on long answer tests, let’s take a look at the kind of skills you’ll need for this type of test.

Bloom’s (revised) Taxonomy is something we reference often in the Centre for Student Success, as it helps students understand the skills they’ll need for effective learning.


(Milman, 2015)

Long answer tests require students to understand course material well enough to apply, analyze and evaluate. This is where the panic and concern comes from. Often students study as if they will only be expected to remember or memorize, which doesn’t prepare them for the requirements of university testing. Basically, success on a long answer test starts long before you sit down to write it; it starts with tailored studying. For a more detailed discussion of Bloom’s (revised) Taxonomy, check out our blog post The Gentleman of the Hour: Benjamin Bloom, why is he so important?

Studying for Long Answer Tests

As I mentioned, success on long answer tests, and any test for that matter, starts very early. I would argue that studying for long answer tests starts as soon as you begin to take notes.

  1. Take notes in your own words

When taking notes, you’ll want to keep in mind how you’ll be asked to use the information. Long answer tests often focus on application and analysis, which requires students to understand the material enough to discuss it in a context they may not have seen before. Simply copying the professor’s lecture slides word for word won’t prepare you to write this type of test. The professor won’t be looking for copied down, memorized material on a long answer test, but rather will be looking for your own understanding and application of the material. It takes higher order thinking skills to be able to understand material enough to put it in your own words. If you can’t do this in lecture due to time constraints, you can always follow-up shortly after the lecture and add to your notes at that time.

  1. Try to think of examples

As we have already discussed, a big part of long answer tests is application and analysis. Often, to show that you are able to apply a concept, the professor will either provide an example and ask you to apply the concept, or ask you to provide the example yourself. In order to prepare yourself for this element of the test, try to incorporate examples into your studying. This could include generating your own examples or finding examples from the professor or textbook to help guide you. In particular, developing your own examples is beneficial as it encourages you to apply the concepts, just like you’ll have to do on your long answer test. As research shows, if you create the examples yourself, you are more likely to remember them because it will be something that’s relevant to you (McCabe, 2015).  If you’re going to use examples from the professor or text, be sure to come up with your own examples as well to make sure that you’ll be able to apply concepts on your own for the test.

  1. Study in the format of the test

Once you’ve set yourself up with fantastic notes, it’s time to start studying. The best way to prepare for any test is to study in the format of the test. So for a long answer test, you’re going to want to study in long answer form. This way you’ll be prepared to use the material in this format on the actual test. Sometimes, the professor will provide sample questions as part of their review, but if not, just do your best to come up with possible questions. It’s more about practicing formatting concepts into a long answer than it is about knowing the exact question on the test.

This is also a great opportunity to incorporate group study techniques into your routine. If you’re able to put together a study group, each member of the group can develop potential questions and share them with the other group members, so that everyone has a chance to practice with a variety of questions.  You don’t have to write out several long answers (though you can, if it is helpful to you); you can practice with these questions by just developing outlines of how you would answer them.

On the Day of the Test

Once you’ve prepared your notes and studied in the format of the test, it’s time to actually write the test. This can be super nerve-wracking for students, but with preparation beforehand and some planning on the day of the test, you’ll be fine.

  1. Read the instructions

First and foremost, read the instructions carefully. You can lose easy marks by missing an element listed in the instructions. As Langan (2002) points out, often the instructions contain direction words such as define, discuss or explain. These are extremely important because they will guide you as to how your professor would like you to present the information on a topic. You might include all the right information, but if you don’t present it how the professor directed, you likely won’t get full marks. Langan (2002) suggests circling the direction words to remind yourself as you write.

  1. Outline your answer

With long answer style tests, you need a plan. If you were writing a formal academic essay, you would likely plan out your arguments and thesis in advance of writing and you should do this for your long answer tests as well. This will help keep you on track as you write. From my personal experience, there is nothing worse than thinking of exactly what you want to write and then forgetting it before you actually include it in your answer. Outlining your answer helps to not only prevent this, but will also make sure that your thoughts are organized logically so that the professor or marker can understand what you’re arguing. In the worst case scenario that you aren’t able to finish your answer due to time constraints, your outline will at least show where you were going with your answer.

  1. Be straightforward

As Pauk (2001) argues, it is better to get straight to the point for long answer exams, unless directed otherwise, of course. Pauk (2001) isn’t suggesting that you avoid expressing complex ideas, but he suggests a straightforward approach. Unless the professor requests a certain style of writing, you’re best to make sure that your ideas are clear and that the professor can see that you understand the material first and foremost. As Pauk (2001) argues, long answer exams are generally not the place for “flowery language” (401).

  1. Follow a format

Although long answer tests are not as formal as an academic essay, they should still adhere to a format to make it easy for the professor or marker to follow along. You should still include the main elements of an academic paragraph (topic sentence, evidence, analysis) and transition words to make your ideas flow smoothly. The professor or marker will likely have lots of exams to read and they won’t have time to try and decipher a poorly organized answer.

  1. What if I don’t know the answer?

This has happened to all of us. If you’re looking at the question and the answer isn’t clear, take a deep breath and try to jot down anything that comes to mind in an outline. If you’re still not sure what to write, you can always work on other questions and come back to the one you’re stuck on, but make sure to leave yourself enough time. If nothing comes to you, just write down the best answer you can. The beauty of long answer tests is that there is an opportunity for part marks—something that is not possible on a multiple choice test.


With advanced preparation and some organization on the day of the test, you’ll be ready to succeed on any long answer test.  If you need more help preparing for an upcoming long answer test, feel free to visit us in the Centre for Student Success.

Chelsey Kerr

Summer Intern



Langan, J. (2002). Reading and study skills (7th ed). New York City: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

McCabe, J. (2015). Learning the brain in introductory psychology: Examining the generation effect for mnemonics and examples. Teaching of Psychology, 42(3), 203-210. Retrieved from http://top.sagepub.com/content/42/3/203.abstract

Milman, N. 2015. Crafting the “right” online discussion questions using the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy as a framework. Distance Learning 11(4), 17-20. Retrieved from https://www.usdla.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Vol.-11-No.-4-2014.pdf

Pauk, W. (2001). How to study in college (7th ed). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

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Quoting, Paraphrasing and Summarizing in Academic Writing

When do I quote? When should I paraphrase? What exactly is a summary? Academic writing can be downright confusing for students, especially knowing when to quote, summarize or paraphrase in their writing.  In my consultations at the Centre for Student Success, I see this confusion often, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to explain further.  To help explain each of the methods, I will use the following article from The Toronto Star as my source:

Province on the hook for $304M in cost overruns at Pan Am Games: Auditor general



First off I’m going to discuss quoting in academic writing. This is by far the most overused of the three I’ll be discussing today. Students are often concerned that if they use the work of someone else and don’t quote it, then they’ll be plagiarizing. This is not true. I’ll get to paraphrasing later on in this post, but it’s important to note that putting material in your own words and citing it properly is a fine substitute for quoting material in most circumstances. However, there are still some instances where quoting is the most appropriate method for incorporating a source into your writing.

When do I quote?

  1. What the person said is important
  2. How they said the information is important

I like to reserve quoting in my academic papers for instances when I just couldn’t word something any better or for statements of historical significance.

It is important to lead into a quotation in your academic writing so that it flows nicely in your work. You’ll want to provide a little context first just so your reader can see why you placed the quote there. Additionally, often when students quote, they forget to include a strong analysis following the quote. Even if you use a quote as your evidence, you still need to explain how that quote supports your thesis. For more information on the structure of an academic paragraph, see the Centre for Student Success Elements of an Academic Paragraph handout.




Example: Following an investigation by the auditor general, ethical concerns were raised about the Pan Am Games’ gross overspending. According to The Toronto Star, “The report found 53 senior staff were paid $5.3 million in bonuses at the end of Games for finishing out the entire length of their contracts and meeting budget targets. Those payments come in addition to annual performance bonuses of $10.5 million” (Battersby, 2016). These figures show the unethical actions of the Pan Am executives, as they were paid high bonuses despite the fact that the Pan Am games were grossly over-budget. Since the province was asked to contribute a significant portion of the funding, the executives should be held accountable to tax payers about how the money was spent.  The Pan Am Games are only one example of many, where public funding has been misused, which is why executives responsible for budgeting should be held legally responsible for their irresponsible spending.


The second method I’m going to touch on is paraphrasing. Paraphrasing is when you take an idea from a work and put it into your own words.  It differs from a summary as it usually includes more detailed ideas or focuses on a more specific section of a work. As an example, you could summarize a full article, but you wouldn’t paraphrase a whole article. Paraphrases are often the same length or even longer than the original piece of text you’re referring to.

When do I paraphrase?

  1. When what is said is the most important part, not how it is said.
  2. The details or information are significant and important to your writing

Paraphrases still need to be cited!


Here is the original paragraph:

“Michael Coteau, minister of tourism, culture and sport responsible for the Games, said Wednesday that the Games had come in under budget according to the government’s calculations. While the auditor broke the numbers into two piles — one for operating the Games, and one for building the athletes’ village — the government sees the budget as a whole, he said. Part of the discrepancy also comes from the auditor adjusting the bid budget to cut out more than $200 million spent on preparing the West Don Lands for development, reasoning it would have been spent regardless. Coteau added later in an interview that costs the auditor put on the province are on the books of other levels of government, and some are fixed costs from within the ministries” (Battersby, 2016).

Paraphrased version of the same paragraph:

When assessing the total cost of the 2015 Pan Am Games, the auditor general examined the costs as two separate figures, the cost for the event operations and also for the construction of the athletes’ villages and found the project to be grossly over budget (Battersby, 2016). However, the minister of tourism, culture and sport, Michael Coteau, examined the total spending and argued that the project was under budget, as some of the construction and development were not solely for the Pan Am Games, but planned  construction that would have been completed regardless (Battersby, 2016). Coteau also noted that the spending for the Pan Am Games will not be paid entirely by the province of Ontario, as some of the spending falls under the jurisdiction of other levels of government, which is why he argues that the project was not over-budget (Battersby, 2016).


Lastly, we have summarizing. Summaries are often used to provide context to a reader who may not be familiar with your topic. Summarizing focuses on the overall idea of a work. To create a summary, you would read through the work and then sum up the most important parts or the big idea(s) and briefly include this information for your reader. Usually, summaries are shorter than the original work.

When do I summarize?

It is best to summarize when you need your reader to have a general understanding of a topic, as opposed to a specific understanding of the topic.  If you need your reader to have a more specific understanding, a paraphrase is more appropriate.

Summaries also need to be cited!

Example: Despite the Pan Am games being extremely over budget, the Pan Am executives still received high bonuses, which has raised ethical concerns (Battersby, 2016).

If you would like a more detailed discussion of quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing, please check out our new Summaries, Paraphrases and Quotations: What to Use and When handout, now available online and in the Centre for Student Success. We will also be running a Citing Sources Successfully workshop in the upcoming fall term, which covers quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing in depth.

Chelsey Kerr

Summer Intern



Battersby, S.J. (2016). Province on the hook for 304M in cost overruns at Pan Am Games: Auditor General. Toronto Star. Retrieved from: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/06/08/pan-am-games-342m-over-budget-auditor-general-says.html



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