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Winter Reads: Paraphrasing


Paraphrasing is putting someone else's words into your own words.   

It shows an understanding of the subject and academic honesty. 

Read carefully because you cannot paraphrase something you do not understand.

Why Paraphrase?

What is Paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing is putting something into your own words the ideas or thoughts of someone else.   Restatement of a piece of text giving the meaning. (A summary is a brief review of content  which provides the reader with the main ideas but does not expand on any of the content).

Why do we need to paraphrase?

  • To better understand something you have read.
  • When writing, we include source material as evidence to support our argument(s).  OR we may believe the evidence to be invalid and want to argue against it.  Ideas that are not our own must be represented accurately and clearly. 
  • Using another author's exact words when not directly quoted is plagiarism or academic dishonesty.

Characters of a good paraphrase

  • Includes only the author's ideas.
  • Is accurate and fair.
  • Is entirely in your own words.
  • Is properly cited.

Paraphrasing: 4 R's

Rearrange: Can you move some words or phrases around?

Reword: Can you replace any words with synonyms?

Realize: Some information (names, dates, titles, etc.) cannot be changed,

Recheck: Did you include the important information? Does it make sense?


How to Paraphrase

Read and Understand

  • Read the source material carefully so that you understand it. 
  • Identify the main ideas/claims and pieces of evidence.
  • When taking notes from a source - write them in your own words this helps avoid plagiarism later.
  • Make sure you cite the source.

Strategies for Paraphrasing

  • Do not paraphrase more than a paragraph at a time.
  • Reword - replace vocabulary with synonyms when you can - a thesaurus is good for this.  Names, titles and dates etc., cannot be replaced.
  • Rearrange words to make a new sentence. Change the order of ideas presented in a paragraph if it makes sense.
  • If the ideas are complex break them down into smaller pieces.
  • Read the text - look away and pretend you are explaining this to someone who doesn't know anything about it.  Put into your own words using your writing style.
  • Paraphrase only what is key to your purpose.
  • Make sure you represent the author clearly.
  • Recheck to ensure that your paraphrase has the same meaning as the author.
  • Indicate that the ideas presented are attributed to the author.


Handyman Dan Online - A paraphrasing tool

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