Guaranteed Higher Grade!
Plagiarism checker
Verify originality of an essay
Get ideas for your paper
Plagiarism checker
Cite sources with ease

A Helpful Guide to Paraphrase Like a Pro

blog author name

One of the vital requirements of academic writing is to refer to other sources. You take someone else’s idea and substantiate your arguments with it. It adds credibility to your writing. One of the options is to add sections from the source verbatim. You’ll need to use quotation marks for that. But the other option is to use your own words to express those ideas. That’s called paraphrasing. Now, let’s get into more details in the following sections.

Paraphrasing : Definition

The concept of paraphrasing is pretty simple. Let’s define it in simple terms:

Paraphrasing is the process of restating someone else’s words or ideas in an original manner while keeping the fundamental essence intact.

Let’s make this simpler. Suppose you come across an idea that you think will improve your writing. You want to add it to your work. However, you don’t want to quote it directly. In that case, you can paraphrase. You go through the section you want to include and understand it properly. Then, write it in your own words.

This begs the question – Why is it necessary to paraphrase in the first place? It’s easier to quote directly. Why should you bother going through the stress of paraphrasing? Well, there are many reasons. Let’s check them out.

Why should you paraphrase?

Paraphrasing comes with a lot of benefits. Here’s a brief overview:

  • You get the opportunity to present ideas in your unique method.
  • You can avoid plagiarism by avoiding direct quotes.
  • You can demonstrate your understanding of the source material.
  • You can add your own ideas to the paraphrased section.

Hopefully, you now understand the importance of paraphrasing. But many students seem to have a misconception about this. You’ll find out more about this soon. First, let’s check how you can avoid plagiarism by paraphrasing.

How to Paraphrase to Avoid Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the bane of every student’s existence. You spend hours working on your paper, only to end up having to change major chunks because of the high plagiarism percentage. It’s not as if you’re intentionally plagiarizing something. Unintentional plagiarism can happen anytime. Fortunately, paraphrasing can help you avoid it.

Here are some helpful tips to help you keep plagiarism at bay:

  • Replace certain words in the source with their synonyms.
  • Change the overall sentence structure.
  • Alter the voice of the sentence.
  • Alternate phrases with clauses.
  • Change the presentation sequence of the information.

These tips are easy to follow in theory. But using them practically requires a bit of dancing around with the text. Perhaps some examples will help you understand better.

Examples of Paraphrasing to Ditch Plagiarism:

Example 1:

Source text – Excess rainfall is one of the major reasons citizens have been suffering throughout the year. Streets have been flooded for months. The local government has been trying to find a solution. But all has been in vain. Schools have started online classes. But college students have had to wade through knee-deep waters to attend exams.

Paraphrased text – Citizens’ lives have been affected immensely because of the recent downpour. The local government has yet to find a resolution to tackle the flooded streets. Several schools have stopped physical classes. Instead, they have started resorting to online teaching. But college students haven’t been as lucky. Due to exams, they have had to traverse knee-deep waters.

Notice the difference between the source and the paraphrased text? You can see that synonyms have been used in several sections. But that’s not all. Observe how the structure of the sentences is different. The paraphrased text doesn’t seem like it has been copied exactly from the source. Words have been added, subtracted and changed. Let’s check another example.

Example 2:

Source text – Internet addiction has become a global social issue. Governments of various countries have put restrictions on the time children can access the internet. But this isn’t a permanent solution. With both parents working, children are barely supervised anymore. This needs to change.

Paraphrased text –Internet addiction is turning out to be a new cause of concern. Governments have tried to limit internet access for children. But this doesn’t address the issue at its roots. It is the parent’s prerogative to supervise their children properly.

This example makes it clearer that paraphrasing involves expressing the information in your own way. Don’t become dependent on the original source’s way of presenting information. Be original. In the next section, you’ll learn more about paraphrasing properly. Pay special attention to this.

How to Paraphrase Properly

Paraphrasing isn’t rocket science. There’s no strict formula to this. It’s up to you to present the information as you wish. The more flexible you are, the easier it becomes to paraphrase. While there isn’t a predetermined way to go about this, you can check out the following tips. They can help you avoid common mistakes. Once you go through them, you’ll have a better idea of how to paraphrase properly.

Read the material yourself

Read the text yourself before you get on with paraphrasing tool. Usually, you have to paraphrase a small section – a sentence or 1-2 paragraphs at most. So you don’t have to read an entire book. There’s no excuse not to read the source yourself. It’s always best to check the information from a primary source. This will help you understand what the author was trying to convey.

Understand the meaning

Don’t read the source material as a passive reader. Comprehend what you’re reading. Ask yourself the following questions –

  • What is the author trying to say?
  • What is the significance of the section?
  • How does the information tie up with your paper?

If you don’t understand the source, it’ll be harder for you to express the ideas in your own words. So, if needed, look up reference sources.

Identify the crucial details

Once you’ve understood the source text, identify the main ideas. Some of the information provided might not be relevant to your paper. If you include them, it’ll seem as if you’ve not understood the work properly. Avoid this mistake at all costs. Figure out the vital details and note them down. They’ll come in handy later when paraphrasing.

Use synonyms for certain words

Plagiarism detectors can identify plagiarized content if you use the same words as the source. Even if you change the sentence structure, similar words are a dead giveaway. So, try to use synonyms wherever possible. But keep the following points in mind –

  • All synonyms might not have the same meaning as the original word.
  • Using synonyms won’t guarantee plagiarism-free work.

Many students are under the impression that changing a few words is enough to paraphrase a text. Well, that’s completely untrue. There’s more to paraphrasing than that.

Keep the meaning intact

The final and perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that you cannot change the original context. Let’s take an example:

Source text – The rains affected crop production a lot. Food was rotting at an unpredictable rate. This made it harder for the farmers to profit from their produce.

Paraphrased text – Farmers could not profit off the rotting food because they couldn’t predict it.

Compare the two sentences. The original text never mentions that the reason for the farmers’ loss was their inability to predict. Rotting food was the main cause. But the paraphrased text does not convey the original meaning. Therefore, it’s not the right way to paraphrase.

Hopefully, these tips will guide you in the right direction. Don’t rush the process. Take your time understanding the source before you dive into the task.

Paraphrasing Different Types of Content

There is no restriction to the type of content you can paraphrase. Whenever you come across something helpful to your paper, you’re free to refer to it. On that note, let’s check out how you can paraphrase certain types of content.

How to Paraphrase an Essay

Academic essays are a great place to gather information. If the essay is of short length, read the entire piece to understand the context. Make sure you include the essay title and author’s name (if available) in the citations.

How to Paraphrase a Quote

You can either quote something verbatim from a source or paraphrase it. For the former, you should always use quotation marks to enclose the quote. But there’s no need for that if you’re paraphrasing. Let’s check an example.

Source text – Mother Teresa said, “The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.”

Paraphrased text – Mother Teresa believed that true poverty has nothing to do with money. One who is lonely and feels unloved suffers from the worst kind of poverty (Ansello 1).

How to Paraphrase a Complex Text

Paraphrasing a complex text requires more skill than you might think. You must understand the main ideas. Otherwise, it’s easy to misunderstand the context. It’s easy to lose yourself in overly-complicated terms. But don’t let that deter you. Simplify the text as much as possible. If required, try out a summarized version.

How to Paraphrase a Poem

Paraphrasing a poem might be trickier than you can imagine. Poems contain vivid imagery that ties in with the themes and meaning. They might also include figurative language, which can completely stump you. Worry not! These issues won’t hinder your task of paraphrasing. Here’s what you must do:

  • Read the poem thoroughly.
  • Analyze the poem for its themes, symbolic phrases and figurative language.
  • Summarize the main points of the poem.
  • Paraphrase small sections of the poem one at a time.

That covers most of the content you might have to paraphrase for your paper. Don’t get intimidated by it. While it seems complex initially, you’ll get accustomed to it over time. Practice as much as you can. Keep the suggestions you’ve come across in this blog from the start. As long as you follow them diligently, you’ll be able to paraphrase like a pro.

Citing the Paraphrased Text Based On Different Citation Styles

You paraphrase a text when you don’t want to quote directly from a source. For quotes, you must Always provide citations. But just because you’re expressing an idea in your own words doesn’t mean you can skip this step. Citations are necessary for paraphrasing as well. After all, you’re using someone else’s words and ideas. They are not your own. So, you should always give credit where it’s due.

Now, there are several citation styles in academic writing. But in this blog, you’ll only go over the vital ones – MLA, APA and Chicago styles. Let’s have a quick look at the three.

Citing in the MLA style:

When you paraphrase a text in the MLA style of citation, you should include the author’s surname and page number in the in-text citation. Read on to see how you should proceed with this type of citation.

When one author is mentioned

The yellow wallpaper is a symbol of the decaying mental health of a woman forced to exile herself (Roberts 23).

Jonathan discusses the ill effects of technology on this generation (24).

When two authors are mentioned

Despite the glaring problems with the research, the governmental pressure forced the team to increase their pace (Dorothy and Blake 12).

When three or more authors are mentioned

The trials of the data collection journey led to many inconsistencies in the final result (Anderson et al. 78).

When no author is mentioned

If no author is mentioned, use the title of the source instead. Just the first 3-4 words should be enough. Exclude articles. If it is italicized, follow the same format. But if it is in quotes, you should use quotes as well. For example:

The rising water levels threaten to wipe out the entire existence of the small island (“Climate Change” 2).

The population of the small village posed a threat to the wildlife of the area (Local Wildlife 12).

When the same idea can be found on other pages

If the same idea has been expressed in multiple sections of a text, you can add more page numbers. For example:

The consequences of the tumultuous mother-daughter relationship spilled over to the lives of other family members (Jonathan 12, 45, 60-62).

Citing in the APA style:

When paraphrasing in the APA style, you must include the author’s surname and the year of publication. Add a comma between the two. Let’s check the following examples.

When one author is mentioned

The yellow wallpaper is a symbol of the decaying mental health of a woman forced to exile herself (Roberts, 2005).

Jonathan (2005) discusses the ill effects of technology on this generation.

When two authors are mentioned

Despite the glaring problems with the research, the governmental pressure forced the team to increase their pace (Dorothy & Blake, 2012).

When three or more authors are mentioned

The trials of the data collection journey led to many inconsistencies in the final result (Anderson et al., 1978).

Citing in the Chicago style:

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) gives you two options –

  • Author-Date system (preferred in physical, natural and social sciences)
  • Notes-Bibliography system (preferred in Humanities disciplines)

If you follow the first style, then you need to include the author’s surname, year of publication, and page number as an in-text reference. Let’s check how this works and compare it to the previous two styles.

When one author is mentioned

The yellow wallpaper is a symbol of the decaying mental health of a woman forced to exile herself (Roberts 2005, 23).

When two authors are mentioned

Despite the glaring problems with the research, the governmental pressure forced the team to increase their pace (Dorothy and Blake 2012, 12).

When three authors are mentioned

The trials of the data collection journey led to many inconsistencies in the final result (Anderson, Dave, and Johnson 1978, 24-26).

When four or more authors are mentioned

The unnatural effects of the reaction stalled the experiment and posed other challenges (Brian et al. 2018, 32).

Do you notice the differences among all three citation styles? Let’s make a brief comparison to make things easier.

MLA StyleAPA StyleChicago Style
1. Includes author’s surname and page number as an in-text citation.1. Includes author’s surname and publication year as an in-text citation.1. Includes author’s surname, publication year and page number as an in-text citation (for author-date style).
2. There is no punctuation mark between the author’s surname and page number.2. There is a comma between the author’s surname and publication year.2. There is a comma between the publication year and page number.
3. Uses ‘and’ to separate the names of two authors.3. Uses ampersand (&) to separate the names of two authors.3. Uses ‘and’ to separate the names of two authors. When there are three authors, the ‘and’ comes in between the second and third authors.

Now you have a clear idea of how to include in-text citations for your paraphrased sections. If you face any problems, you can hire experts at to lend you a helping hand. These professionals will cover the basics and ensure your paraphrasing is flawless. So, don’t hesitate to drop your queries whenever you’re in a pinch.

Frequently Asked Questions by Students

What are the rules for paraphrasing?

The fundamental rules of paraphrasing are –

  • You must read the original content thoroughly.
  • Identify the main points of the text.
  • Rewrite the ideas in your own words.
  • Review what you’ve written to ensure the context is intact.
  • Provide references to the source material.

Paraphrasing becomes a piece of cake when you follow these points to the T.

What are the common problems in paraphrasing?

The common problems of paraphrasing are –

  • Lack of awareness about what paraphrasing entails
  • Summarizing points without understanding the context
  • Not adding any personal reflection about the paraphrased text
  • Believing that paraphrasing means word substitution
  • Forgetting to add references for the paraphrased text
  • Forgetting to add quotation marks for any text you’ve copied verbatim

What is the biggest mistake in paraphrasing?

The biggest mistake in paraphrasing is believing that you don’t have to cite your sources just because you’re writing the idea in your own words. Keep in mind that this isn’t original content. You’re borrowing someone else’s idea. If you don’t acknowledge your source, you’re practically claiming another person’s work as your own. This is considered plagiarism, for which you can be penalized.

How much paraphrasing is allowed?

Try to limit the number of times you paraphrase someone else’s work. Paraphrase brief sections only – one or two sentences or a paragraph at most. You don’t want to fill your entire paper with paraphrased sections. It will give the impression that you’ve not included any original work.

How can a paraphraser help in learning languages?

A paraphraser works wonders in helping learners master a language. When a learner paraphrases a particular section, the tool keeps the main idea intact and presents it differently. This helps the leader to discover new words, synonyms, and ways to present information differently. It also aids them in improving overall comprehension.

Does paraphrasing online fix plagiarism?

If you run your paper through a plagiarism detector and find a high plagiarism percentage, use a paraphrasing tool. It will help you present the plagiarized sections differently. Make sure to add proper citations for the paraphrase sections. Even if you use your own words to paraphrase, you can’t skip citations since you’re using someone else’s idea.  

Hi, I am Mark, a Literature writer by profession. Fueled by a lifelong passion for Literature, story, and creative expression, I went on to get a PhD in creative writing. Over all these years, my passion has helped me manage a publication of my write ups in prominent websites and e-magazines. I have also been working part-time as a writing expert for for 5+ years now. It’s fun to guide students on academic write ups and bag those top grades like a pro. Apart from my professional life, I am a big-time foodie and travel enthusiast in my personal life. So, when I am not working, I am probably travelling places to try regional delicacies and sharing my experiences with people through my blog. 

Related Post

Join our 150К of happy users

Get original papers written according to your instructions and save time for what matters most.

Order Now
Plagiarism checker
Verify originality of an essay
Get ideas for your paper
Plagiarism checker
Cite sources with ease
sales chat
sales chat