Overview: Once you complete the "Direct Quotation" field and annotate it (see "What should I enter in the "Direct Quotation" field on a notecard?"), you are ready to explain it to yourself. You can choose to summarize, paraphrase, analyze a quote or make a bulleted list of points. Your teacher may also provide specific instructions that will appear in the "Paraphrase or Summary" field before you start typing.

This article applies to: 

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Option 1: Write a summary.  

A summary concisely restates important ideas and crucial details in language you understand. 

Summarizing boosts understanding.  When a passage doesn't make sense, you tend to patchwrite because you can't explain it. Summaries help you weave authors' ideas together and find points of contrast in words you understand

Notecards that contain a single idea are easier to use in an outline. So, if you find more than one main point in a notecard, split them into two notecards.  

Step 1: Read closely, then write.

  • Read your highlights in the "Direct Quotation" field.  
  • Clarify unfamiliar words using the search command [define:your word]. Don't substitute word-by-word for each sentence.
  • Understand the whole, get the gist, and you'll begin to "hear" your own voice. 
  • Restate the main point.
  • Explain how the evidence or data relates to the main point.

Step 2: Tighten your writing. Quote when necessary.

  • Reread your draft summary.
  • Delete extra words (e.g., "This quote is about...").
  • Replace lists with a collective noun (e.g., use recyclables instead of newspapers, glass bottles, aluminum cans, and yard trimmings.) 
  • Quote the author's exact words when a phrase is unique and cannot be summarized concisely.

Option 2: Write a paraphrase.  

A paraphrase mirrors the author's ideas, reasoning, opinions and feelings — as well as the logical structure of the writing. Choose to paraphrase when: 

  • the author’s ideas, evidence and logic need to be fully explained;
  • the original passage contains jargon, specialized language or complex syntax;
  • the author's ideas are valuable but the writing style is not interesting or vivid. 

To paraphrase, rephrase the author's ideas, evidence and logic. Think of it as your explanation to a friend who has not read the passage

Step 1: Read closely until the meaning is clear, then write. 

  • Reread the "Direct Quotation" field and review your annotations. 
  • Clarify unfamiliar words using the search command [define:your word].
  • Explain how the evidence or data relates to the main idea.
  • Retain the author's logical flow and tone.

Step 2: Expand your explanation.

  • Compare the "Direct Quotation" to your paraphrase to pinpoint missed or misstated elements.
  • Revise your paraphrase to cover the entire passage.
  • Quote special tems, vivid language or unique phrasing.

Step 3: Identify the author's feelings, beliefs or opinions. (If the passage sounds neutral and objective like an encyclopedia or dictionary, you may not find evidence of a point of view.)  Look for:

  • Noun choice (e.g., alien, immigrant, migrant, refugee; or environmental justice vs. environmental law)
  • Adjective judgments (e.g., disgusting, stubborn, idealistic, finest). 
  • Qualifiers (e.g., to some degree, occasionally, certainly, possibly) show how strongly the author agrees or disagrees with something.

Tip: If ideas, questions or comments occur to you, jot notes into the "My ideas" field. 

Option 3: Write an analysis of a literary quote

When you discuss a novel, poem or play, you will include:

  • Your hypothesis about the author's intent or implied meaning.
  • Quoted words or phrases that support your idea.
  • An analysis of why and how the evidence supports your thinking. 

To write an analysis of a quote from a literary work:

Step 1: Confirm the value and relevance to your analysis. 

  • Reread the "Direct Quotation" field  
  • Clarify words using the search command [define:your word].
  • Select the specific words or phrases that will used as evidence.

Step 2: Blend your analysis with quoted evidence using one of these structures:

  • Introduce the quote with a claim.
  • Weave words and phrases into a claim
  • Combine a paraphrase with a partial quote.

Option 4: Extract data, respond to visuals, etc.

Sometimes the Direct Quotation field has:

  • A data-heavy passage
  • A timeline
  • A video clip or movie
  • A chart, infographic or visual
  • A photograph

Use the Paraphrase / Summary field to:

  • Extract data in bulleted points for a chart, infographic or passage
  • Create an ordered list by date for events in a timeline
  • Record timestamps with notes for clips from a video or movie
  • Freewrite to brainstorm tor explore your responses to visuals
  • Use "See, Think, Wonder" or another thinking routine your teacher assigns.