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An Easy Guide on How to Paraphrase

Published by at November 6th, 2023 , Revised On November 6, 2023

In today’s information age, where vast amounts of knowledge are easily accessible, it is crucial to know how to use and represent that knowledge correctly and cite sources properly. One of the essential skills for writers, students, and researchers alike is paraphrasing. But what is paraphrasing? 

Paraphrasing involves taking someone else’s ideas or words and rephrasing them uniquely. It is not merely changing a few words here and there but understanding the essence of what is being said and presenting it anew. Unlike direct quoting, where you use block quotes and cite the source verbatim, paraphrasing allows you to internalise and then articulate the idea in a manner that complements your writing style, all while giving due credit to the source.

How to Paraphrase Correctly

Here are the main steps to make sure that you paraphrase correctly. 

Step 1. Read the Original Text Thoroughly

  • Before you can rephrase, you must first understand what you are reading. Read the entire passage slowly, without rushing, and try to grasp the main ideas. Take note of any vocabulary words or phrases that you might not fully understand and look them up. This is the first step in source evaluation.
  • Take note of any vocabulary words or phrases that you might not fully understand and look them up.

Step 2. Understand the Core Message and Jot Down Key Points

  • Summarise the main ideas in your own words. This not only aids in understanding but also gives you a blueprint to follow when you are paraphrasing. Make sure to differentiate between credible sources and secondary sources while noting down your points.
  • If the text has sub-points or supporting details, note those down as well. However, remember to keep it brief. You are not rewriting the entire passage just yet.

Step 3. Put the Original Text Aside

  • This is crucial. The goal is to prevent yourself from inadvertently copying the structure and phrasing of the original.
  • By not looking at the original, you force your brain to reconstruct the idea in a way that is unique to you.

Step 4. Write your Version Without Looking at the Original Text

  • Using the notes and summaries you’ve jotted down, write out the text in your own words. Try to change the structure and sequence if possible.
  • Do not just swap out synonyms. Aim for a genuine rephrasing that maintains the original meaning but has a distinctly different structure.
  • If you find yourself getting stuck, rather than looking back at the original, ask yourself questions like: “What is the author trying to convey here?” or “How can I explain this concept in a different way?”

Step 5. Compare your Paraphrased Version with the Original to Ensure Accuracy without Direct Copying

  • This step ensures that you haven’t unintentionally plagiarised and that you’ve accurately represented the original idea.
  • If there are sections that closely mirror the original, rework them.
  • If you have left out a crucial point or misunderstood something, go back and correct it.

Examples of Paraphrasing

Here is an example of paraphrasing a paragraph:

Original Paragraph

The koala bear lives in Australia. It is a gentle little animal that is almost defenceless. Its only protection is its colour, which blends in with the bark of the eucalyptus trees it lives in. The koala makes no nest. It just sits in the forked branches of a tree and sleeps for up to 20 hours a day. Its diet consists entirely of eucalyptus leaves, which it eats by tearing them off the tree with its sharp claws.

Paraphrased Paragraph

Koalas are small, furry animals that live in Australia. They are not very aggressive, and their only defence is their camouflaged fur. Koalas do not build nests but instead sleep for up to 20 hours a day in the forked branches of eucalyptus trees. Their diet consists solely of eucalyptus leaves, which they tear off the tree with their sharp claws.

How to Cite a Paraphrase

Citing a paraphrase is an essential part of academic writing and research to give proper credit to the original source when finding sources and while presenting the information in your own words. The specific citation style you use (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.) will determine the format and details of your citation. Below are general guidelines for citing a paraphrase in different common citation styles:

APA (American Psychological Association) Style

In APA style, you should include the author’s last name and the publication year in parentheses after the paraphrased information. Here is the basic format:

(Author’s Last Name, Year)

For example

Original text: “Climate change is a pressing global issue that requires immediate attention” (Smith, 2019). 

Paraphrase: Smith (2019) emphasized the urgent need to address climate change.

MLA (Modern Language Association) Style

In MLA style, you should include the author’s last name and the page number (if available) in parentheses after the paraphrased information. Here is the basic format:

(Author’s Last Name, Page Number)

For Example

Original text: “The internet has revolutionised communication” (Jones 45). 

Paraphrase: According to Jones, communication has been transformed by the internet (45).

Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) Style

Chicago style offers two different citation methods: notes and bibliography (often used in humanities) and author-date (often used in social sciences). Here is how to cite a paraphrase in both styles:

a. Notes and Bibliography: 

In this style, use footnotes or endnotes for citations. After the paraphrased information, place a superscript number and provide a full citation in a corresponding footnote or endnote.

Original text: “The Renaissance era witnessed a revival of art and learning” (Smith 34). 

Paraphrase: The Renaissance era saw a resurgence of artistic and scholarly activity.^1

In the footnote or endnote: ^1 Author’s Full Name, Title of the Book (Place of Publication: Publisher, Year), Page Number.

b. Author-Date:

In this style, you include the author’s last name and the publication year in parentheses within the text, similar to APA style.

Original text: “Recent research has shown a correlation between exercise and mental health” (Johnson 2018). Paraphrase: Johnson (2018) found a link between mental health and physical activity.

Techniques For Effective Paraphrasing

Here are some techniques for effective paraphrasing in short bullet points:

  • Read and comprehend the original text thoroughly before attempting to paraphrase.
  • Replace words or phrases with synonyms to maintain the meaning while changing the wording.
  • Reorder sentences and clauses to convey the same message in a different way.
  • Transform a statement into a question, an active voice into a passive voice, or vice versa.
  • Break down complex sentences or technical jargon into simpler terms.
  • Ensure the paraphrased version retains the core idea and intent of the original text.
  • Always give credit to the original source when paraphrasing to avoid plagiarism.
  • Use plagiarism detection tools to verify the uniqueness of your paraphrased content.
  • Review your paraphrased text for clarity, coherence, and accuracy.
  • Enhance your paraphrasing skills through regular practice to become more proficient.

The Difference Between Paraphrasing, Summarising and Quoting

Paraphrasing, summarising, and quoting are three techniques used in academic writing and research to incorporate information from external sources into your work while maintaining clarity, integrity, and proper attribution. Each technique serves a distinct purpose and has its own rules and guidelines. Here’s an overview of the differences between them:


  • Quoting involves using the exact words or phrases from a source and enclosing them within quotation marks.
  • It is used when you want to preserve the original wording of a specific passage or when the wording itself is significant, such as when discussing a direct quotation from a book, an interview, or a historical document.
  • Quotations must be cited properly with a reference to the source, including page numbers for print sources.

Example: According to Smith (2010), “The fundamental principles of democracy include citizen participation and representation in government” (p. 45).


  • Paraphrasing is the process of rephrasing or restating the content of a source in your own words while maintaining the original meaning.
  • It is used when you want to explain or rephrase the ideas, concepts, or arguments from a source in a way that suits your own writing style or when you want to avoid overusing direct quotations.
  • Paraphrased content must be properly cited to give credit to the original source.

Example (Original): The impact of climate change on polar bear populations is a pressing concern for scientists. 

Example (Paraphrase): Scientists are increasingly alarmed by the effects of global warming on the survival of polar bears.


  • Summarising involves condensing a source’s main points or key ideas into a concise and coherent form, often reducing a larger body of text into a shorter version.
  • It is used when you want to provide an overview of a source’s content without including every detail or when you want to offer a concise representation of multiple sources on a particular topic.
  • Like paraphrasing and quoting, summarisation requires proper citation to attribute the original source of the information.

Example (Original): The study examined the causes and consequences of air pollution in urban areas, focusing on its impact on public health, the environment, and government policies. Example (Summary): The study investigated urban air pollution, considering its effects on health, the environment, and governmental responses.

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How to Avoid Plagiarism When you Paraphrase 

Here are some tips to help you avoid plagiarism when you paraphrase:

Understand the Source Material

Before attempting to paraphrase, thoroughly understand the source material. Read it multiple times to grasp its main ideas, concepts, and arguments.

Take Notes

As you read the source, take notes in your own words, summarising key points and important details. This will help you internalise the content and make it easier to rephrase later.

Do not Copy the Original Language

Avoid directly copying sentences or phrases from the source material. Instead, express the ideas using your own words and sentence structure. Focus on conveying the same message without duplicating the language.

Change Sentence Structure

Alter the sentence structure of the original text. Rearrange the words and sentence order to create a new and unique structure while retaining the original meaning.

Use Synonyms

Replace some words with synonyms to diversify your vocabulary and make the paraphrased content distinct from the original. Be careful not to change the meaning of the text.

Keep the Original Meaning

Ensure that the paraphrased content maintains the same meaning as the source material. Do not distort the author’s intended message.

Cite the Source

Always provide proper attribution to the original source by citing it correctly in your text. The citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.) will depend on your academic institution’s guidelines.

Compare your Paraphrase with the Original

After paraphrasing, compare your version with the original text to make sure you haven’t inadvertently retained too much of the original language or altered the meaning.

Revise and Edit

Review your paraphrase for clarity and accuracy. Make any necessary revisions to improve the flow and coherence of your writing.

Seek Feedback

If you are uncertain about the quality of your paraphrasing, consider seeking feedback from a teacher, professor, or writing centre. They can provide guidance on improving your paraphrasing skills.

Use Plagiarism Detection Tools

Use plagiarism detection tools or software like Turnitin or Grammarly to check your work for unintentional similarities with the original text. This can help you identify and correct any potential issues.


Like any skill, paraphrasing improves with practice. Regularly practice paraphrasing different types of texts to become more proficient at it.

Frequently Asked Questions

To paraphrase effectively, rephrase the original text in your own words, maintaining its meaning and essence while using different vocabulary and sentence structure. Keep the paraphrase concise, within 50 words, and ensure it conveys the original message accurately without copying the original wording.

Paraphrasing is not plagiarism when done correctly. It involves rewriting someone else’s ideas or words in your own words while giving proper credit through citations when necessary. Plagiarism occurs when you use someone else’s work without proper attribution or without sufficiently altering the original content.

Paraphrasing is the process of rewording or rephrasing a piece of text while preserving its original meaning. It involves expressing the same ideas in different words and sentence structures. Paraphrasing is a valuable skill in academic and professional writing to avoid plagiarism and enhance clarity.

To paraphrase a sentence, read it carefully, understand its meaning, and then express that meaning in your own words. Change the sentence structure, use synonyms, and alter word order while maintaining the original message. Always cite the source if it’s not common knowledge to avoid plagiarism. Practice improves paraphrasing skills.

To paraphrase a quote, first understand the quote’s meaning thoroughly. Then, rephrase it using different words and sentence structure while retaining the original message. Ensure your paraphrase is accurate and conveys the same idea. Properly cite the original source to give credit to the original author and avoid plagiarism.

Turnitin can detect paraphrasing if the paraphrased text closely resembles the original and is not properly cited. It checks for similarities in sentence structure, word choice, and overall content. To avoid issues, always provide proper citations for paraphrased content, ensuring originality while using someone else’s ideas.

About Ellie Cross

Avatar for Ellie CrossEllie Cross is the Content Manager at ResearchProspect, assisting students for a long time. Since its inception, She has managed a growing team of great writers and content marketers who contribute to a great extent to helping students with their academics.