Technology for Learners

How Does Paraphrasing Help in Academic Writing?

Will Fastiggi

Many students and researchers believe that paraphrasing is counterproductive for academic writing, claiming that it reduces student creativity. While they may have a point, did you know that paraphrasing has many benefits in academic writing too? 

In this article, we are going to show how paraphrasing can help you in academic writing as well as some of the major advantages of this technique.

Facts about Plagiarism

According to a survey by Fixgerald, around  12%  of students admitted to having plagiarised their work intentionally from the Internet.

The reason is that many students are unaware of the right way to paraphrase. To avoid such conditions, you should use a paraphrasing tool . It will help you to reword your text without manual interference. 

Let us now show you how paraphrasing can help you.

How is Paraphrasing Helpful in Academic Writing?

– avoid plagiarism .

The detection of plagiarism is one of the biggest problems to address for instructors and educational institutions.

In some educational institutions, it is considered to be a type of stealing that needs to be resolved.

Paraphrasing correctly helps you to avoid such problems and be confident in your writing. 

To keep your text plagiarism free, you have to reword it with concentration and focus. A minor mistake can change the whole meaning of the text. 

In this section, we recommend you choose an effective paraphrasing tool . 

– Saves Time 

If you have found plagiarism in your text or just starting your paper, you have to do research. It takes a lot of time which makes it hard to meet the deadline. But you can make this process faster with paraphrasing, in which you reword the original text instead of writing from scratch. 

– Enhances Vocabulary 

This technique can help you to enhance your vocabulary? When you are paraphrasing a source text, for example, you need to search for synonyms, related terms, and antonyms. 

In this way, you can learn about different terms while ensuring that your work is free from plagiarism. It will also help you in the future of your academic career where you have to write assignments. 

– Reduces the Need for Quotations 

The quotation is the only way to make your work plagiarism free even when you are copying it from others. It is not good practice though, to quote every line or sentence from other papers or books.

By using a paraphrasing tool , you can easily reword the original text, even having a short paragraph. In this way, paraphrasing helps in reducing your need for quotations. 

– Improves Writing Skill

With the help of paraphrasing, you can easily learn how to write the same sentence in different ways. It will help you to improve your writing skill and think outside of the box to reword the original content. 

As a result, you can quickly develop your writing skills, helping to make writing tasks easier for you in the future.

Concluding thoughts…

There are plenty of benefits to applying the technique of paraphrasing in academic writing. By honing this skill, you will not only improve the quality of your writing, you will also make sure that your work is both unique and free from plagiarism . 

Will Fastiggi

Will Fastiggi

Originally from England, Will is an Upper Primary Coordinator now living in Brazil. He is passionate about making the most of technology to enrich the education of students.

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What Does Paraphrasing Mean? Answered With Examples

Are you curious about what does paraphrasing mean? Learn about the definition of paraphrasing and how you can use it to create strong writing from your sources.

When writing an essay or non-fiction, figuring out what to say often involves researching primary and secondary sources. It involves taking research and transforming it into your own written words, without copying the original work word-for-word.

Effective writers of all types, especially those who write academic papers and essays, master the art of paraphrasing. Without paraphrasing, a piece of writing can become a bunch of quotations pieced together.

So what does paraphrasing mean, and how can you use it in your writing? This guide will take a closer look at this writing tool and how you can use it to transform your source materials into writing you can feel proud of. 

What Does Paraphrasing Mean?

Types of paraphrasing, writers use paraphrasing to avoid plagiarism , tips to learn to paraphrase, identifying paraphrasing with examples .

What Does Paraphrasing Mean

Paraphrasing describes rephrasing someone’s idea and putting it in your own words. Even with paraphrasing, you must still use proper citations using APA or MLA format to avoid the consequences of plagiarism .

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary , a paraphrase is “a restatement of a text, passage, or work giving the meaning in another form.” When used as a verb, the definition of paraphrasing is “to make a paraphrase.” This word comes from the Latin word “paraphrasis” and from the Greek word “paraphrazein.”

Paraphrasing is putting source material in one’s own words. When paraphrasing, you use different words and synonyms to replace the author’s words. It involves creating a unique sentence structure, exhibiting your writing style, or using another form of rewording to ensure sentences differ from the original author’s exact words. Plagiarism, on the other hand, describes taking another writer’s work, either verbatim or without a citation, and passing it off as your own.

Learn more about the differences between paraphrasing vs plagiarism

Writers can use several types of paraphrasing to change the phrasing of their works. Some common ways to paraphrase include:

You can paraphrase in other ways, too, but these are three common ways that writers will transform a piece of research material and make it their own words for their paper.

Paraphrasing helps you avoid falling victim to plagiarism, a mistake that could put your grade in jeopardy. Directly pulling a quote from an original work is a serious infraction, especially without quotation marks and proper citation. Even pulling just a few phrases from the original work and not paraphrasing those bits unless those phrases are common knowledge facts, is plagiarism.

Writers often paraphrase to use works from an original source without pulling a direct quote. Paraphrasing is a common tool used in academic papers, but it also shows up in other writing types .

In order to successfully paraphrase, none of the wording can be the same as the original source material. Here is an example:

In the second sentence, the phrases “warm air rises over” and “cools quickly” are repeated, which means it still shows plagiarism. The correct paraphrase changes the wording enough to be the new author’s words.

Citation and Paraphrasing

What does paraphrasing mean?

Paraphrasing does not eliminate the need to cite sources in your paper properly. Changing the wording or rephrasing the original passage still takes the original author’s ideas, and you cannot claim those as your own without proper credit.

Paraphrased ideas still need in-text citations according to the publication manual used for the research paper. The exception would be items considered common knowledge in the field. Examples of common knowledge information include:

Outside of examples like these, paraphrased information still requires a citation. Otherwise, you indicate the idea is your own when, in fact, it came from another author.

Paraphrasing Versus Summarizing

Paraphrasing vs summarizing

Paraphrasing may feel similar to summarizing, but these are not the same processes. When paraphrasing, take a passage and put it in your own words. The overall word count of what you write and what the original author said is usually the same.

Summarizing means taking a long work and boiling it down into a shortened, concise version. This process also involves rewording and using your own words, but the goal is to present the main points of the source material in a shorter form. Summarized information also should have a citation to show where the source came from.

Learn more about how to write a summary

Paraphrasing seems easy, but you may find it a bit more challenging than you thought when you start to work on the process. Transforming written works to make them uniquely yours is not as easy as you might think.

Here are some tips that might help:

Remember, if you doubt, cite the source material. It’s better to paraphrase and cite too often than to get caught plagiarizing. 

Looking at examples of paraphrasing can help you understand how proper paraphrases might look in your paper or essay. After studying these examples, you will be ready to start using this tool in your writing.

Finally, if you’re concerned that you have incorrectly paraphrased a piece of writing, consider running it through the best plagiarism checker you can afford. These tools will usually identify missing citations and text taken verbatim without attribution.

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Why is paraphrasing so important.

Paraphrasing is important because it shows you understand the source well enough to write it in your own words. It also gives you a powerful alternative to using direct quotes, which should be used infrequently.

How do I paraphrase?

There are useful strategies to develop your paraphrasing skills. The most important feature, however, is to make sure you understand the text fully before you attempt to paraphrase it.

Form and Style Review Home Page

Evidence-Based Arguments: Paraphrasing

Basics of paraphrasing, effective paraphrasing strategies, examples of paraphrasing.

A successful paraphrase is your own explanation or interpretation of another person's ideas. Paraphrasing in academic writing is an effective way to restate, condense, or clarify another author's ideas while also providing credibility to your own argument or analysis. While successful paraphrasing is essential for strong academic writing, unsuccessful paraphrasing can result in unintentional plagiarism. Look through the paraphrasing strategies below to better understand what counts as an effective paraphrase.

If you’re having trouble paraphrasing a text effectively, try following these steps:

Have I accurately addressed the author's ideas in a new way that is unique to my writing style and scholarly voice? Have I tried to replicate the author's idea or have I simply changed words around in his/her original sentence(s)?

Here is the original source an author might use in a paper:

Differentiation as an instructional approach promotes a balance between a student's style and a student's ability. Differentiated instruction provides the student with options for processing and internalizing the content, and for constructing new learning in order to progress academically.

Here is an example of bad paraphrasing of the source. Even though the student is citing correctly, underlined words are simply synonyms of words used in the original source. You can also see how the sentence structure is the same for both the original source and this paraphrase.

Differentiation is a way to encourage equality between the approach and talent of the student (Thompson, 2009). This type of instruction gives students different ways to deal with and grasp information , and for establishing new learning to move on in education (Thompson, 2009).

Here is an example of a better way to paraphrase the source. In this example, the author has taken the essential ideas and information from the original source, but has worded it in her own way, using unique word choice and sentence structure. The author has condensed Thompson's (2009) information, including what is relevant to her paper, but leaving out extra details that she does not needed.

Teachers use differentiated instruction to help students learn, allowing the teacher to cater lessons to the way each student learns and each student's skill (Thompson, 2009).

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what does paraphrasing help with

Paraphrase: Write It in Your Own Words

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This handout is intended to help you become more comfortable with the uses of and distinctions among quotations, paraphrases, and summaries. This handout compares and contrasts the three terms, gives some pointers, and includes a short excerpt that you can use to practice these skills.

Paraphrasing is one way to use a text in your own writing without directly quoting source material. Anytime you are taking information from a source that is not your own, you need to specify where you got that information.

A paraphrase is...

Paraphrasing is a valuable skill because...

6 Steps to Effective Paraphrasing

Some examples to compare

Note that the examples in this section use MLA style for in-text citation.

The original passage:

Students frequently overuse direct quotation in taking notes, and as a result they overuse quotations in the final [research] paper. Probably only about 10% of your final manuscript should appear as directly quoted matter. Therefore, you should strive to limit the amount of exact transcribing of source materials while taking notes. Lester, James D. Writing Research Papers . 2nd ed., 1976, pp. 46-47.

A legitimate paraphrase:

In research papers, students often quote excessively, failing to keep quoted material down to a desirable level. Since the problem usually originates during note taking, it is essential to minimize the material recorded verbatim (Lester 46-47).

An acceptable summary:

Students should take just a few notes in direct quotation from sources to help minimize the amount of quoted material in a research paper (Lester 46-47).

A plagiarized version:

Students often use too many direct quotations when they take notes, resulting in too many of them in the final research paper. In fact, probably only about 10% of the final copy should consist of directly quoted material. So it is important to limit the amount of source material copied while taking notes.

A note about plagiarism: This example has been classed as plagiarism, in part, because of its failure to deploy any citation. Plagiarism is a serious offense in the academic world. However, we acknowledge that plagiarism is a difficult term to define; that its definition may be contextually sensitive; and that not all instances of plagiarism are created equal—that is, there are varying “degrees of egregiousness” for different cases of plagiarism.

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How to Paraphrase | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples

Published on April 8, 2022 by Courtney Gahan and Jack Caulfield. Revised on November 4, 2022.

Paraphrasing means putting someone else’s ideas into your own words. Paraphrasing a source involves changing the wording while preserving the original meaning.

Paraphrasing is an alternative to  quoting (copying someone’s exact words and putting them in quotation marks ). In academic writing, it’s usually better to integrate sources by paraphrasing instead of quoting. It shows that you have understood the source, reads more smoothly, and keeps your own voice front and center.

Every time you paraphrase, it’s important to cite the source . Also take care not to use wording that is too similar to the original. Otherwise, you could be at risk of committing plagiarism .

What is your plagiarism score?

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what does paraphrasing help with

Table of contents

How to paraphrase in five easy steps, how to paraphrase correctly, examples of paraphrasing, how to cite a paraphrase, paraphrasing vs. quoting, paraphrasing vs. summarizing, avoiding plagiarism when you paraphrase, frequently asked questions about paraphrasing.

If you’re struggling to get to grips with the process of paraphrasing, check out our easy step-by-step guide in the video below.

Putting an idea into your own words can be easier said than done. Let’s say you want to paraphrase the text below, about population decline in a particular species of sea snails.

Incorrect paraphrasing

You might make a first attempt to paraphrase it by swapping out a few words for  synonyms .

Like other sea creatures inhabiting the vicinity of highly populated coasts, horse conchs have lost substantial territory to advancement and contamination , including preferred breeding grounds along mud flats and seagrass beds. Their Gulf home is also heating up due to global warming , which scientists think further puts pressure on the creatures , predicated upon the harmful effects extra warmth has on other large mollusks (Barnett, 2022).

This attempt at paraphrasing doesn’t change the sentence structure or order of information, only some of the word choices. And the synonyms chosen are poor:

Because of this, the text reads awkwardly, is longer than it needs to be, and remains too close to the original phrasing. This means you risk being accused of plagiarism .

Correct paraphrasing

Let’s look at a more effective way of paraphrasing the same text.

Here, we’ve:

Because of this, we’re able to clearly convey the relevant information from the source without sticking too close to the original phrasing.

Explore the tabs below to see examples of paraphrasing in action.

Once you have your perfectly paraphrased text, you need to ensure you credit the original author. You’ll always paraphrase sources in the same way, but you’ll have to use a different type of in-text citation depending on what citation style you follow.

Generate accurate citations with Scribbr

The Scribbr Citation Generator will automatically create a flawless APA citation

The Scribbr Citation Generator will automatically create a flawless MLA citation

It’s a good idea to paraphrase instead of quoting in most cases because:

But that doesn’t mean you should never quote. Quotes are appropriate when:

A paraphrase puts a specific passage into your own words. It’s typically a similar length to the original text, or slightly shorter.

When you boil a longer piece of writing down to the key points, so that the result is a lot shorter than the original, this is called summarizing .

Paraphrasing and quoting are important tools for presenting specific information from sources. But if the information you want to include is more general (e.g., the overarching argument of a whole article), summarizing is more appropriate.

When paraphrasing, you have to be careful to avoid accidental plagiarism .

This can happen if the paraphrase is too similar to the original quote, with phrases or whole sentences that are identical (and should therefore be in quotation marks). It can also happen if you fail to properly cite the source.

Paraphrasing tools are widely used by students, and can be especially useful for non-native speakers who may find academic writing particularly challenging. While these can be helpful for a bit of extra inspiration, use these tools sparingly, keeping academic integrity in mind.

To make sure you’ve properly paraphrased and cited all your sources, you could elect to run a plagiarism check before submitting your paper. And of course, always be sure to read your source material yourself and take the first stab at paraphrasing on your own.

To paraphrase effectively, don’t just take the original sentence and swap out some of the words for synonyms. Instead, try:

The main point is to ensure you don’t just copy the structure of the original text, but instead reformulate the idea in your own words.

Paraphrasing without crediting the original author is a form of plagiarism , because you’re presenting someone else’s ideas as if they were your own.

However, paraphrasing is not plagiarism if you correctly cite the source . This means including an in-text citation and a full reference, formatted according to your required citation style .

As well as citing, make sure that any paraphrased text is completely rewritten in your own words.

Plagiarism means using someone else’s words or ideas and passing them off as your own. Paraphrasing means putting someone else’s ideas in your own words.

So when does paraphrasing count as plagiarism?

To present information from other sources in academic writing , it’s best to paraphrase in most cases. This shows that you’ve understood the ideas you’re discussing and incorporates them into your text smoothly.

It’s appropriate to quote when:

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Gahan, C. & Caulfield, J. (2022, November 04). How to Paraphrase | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved March 9, 2023, from

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Courtney Gahan

Courtney Gahan

Other students also liked, how to write a summary | guide & examples, how to quote | citing quotes in apa, mla & chicago, how to avoid plagiarism | tips on citing sources.

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Curriculum and Student Achievement

Learn to Paraphrase

In this handout, we’ll look at how to paraphrase your sources. A paraphrase is a detailed restatement in your own words of a written or sometimes spoken passage. Apart from the changes in organization, wording, and sentence structure, the paraphrase should be nearly identical in meaning to the original passage.

When do I Paraphrase?

You should consider paraphrasing in the following instances:

How do I Paraphrase?

When paraphrasing, follow the guidelines listed below:

You may find it helpful to use the following five steps when paraphrasing:

1. Replace as many of the words as possible with appropriate synonyms. Sometimes you may have to substitute a phrase in place of a word, or a word in place of a phrase. When changing words, keep in mind that most words have more than one meaning and association. You must consider the context in which the word is used. Using an inappropriate synonym may change the entire meaning of the passage. (Dictionaries are frequently better for this step than thesauruses.) 2. Change the order and structure of the ideas or argument. 3. Change the structure of the sentences. All of us have our own writing style. Change the sentences to reflect yours. Be careful not to change the meaning by adding or leaving out any important information.

Example Paraphrases

Let’s look at an example of paraphrased material. In the paraphrase samples, you’ll notice that we’ve documented by including the author/year at the end of the passage. Other documentation styles may employ a different technique. Additionally, you’ll probably want to vary how you incorporate source material into your paper. The handout “ Signal Your Sources ” can give you some ideas on integrating source material.

Original passage:

Statements that seem complimentary in one context may be inappropriate in another. For example, women in business are usually uncomfortable if male colleagues or superiors compliment them on their appearance: the comments suggest that the women are being treated as visual decoration rather than as contributing workers. (p. 323)

---Locker, K. O. (2003). Business and administrative communication (6th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Irwin/McGraw-Hill.

Let’s first identify the important ideas in this passage:

Read the sample paraphrases below. For each of the paraphrases, determine if both wording and sentence structure were changed. Also check to see if all of the original points were included and if the original meaning was retained.

Paraphrase A:

Words or expressions which appear favorable in one situation might be improper in a different situation. For instance, employed females are often uneasy when they are given positive comments on their looks. These remarks imply that the females are being viewed as adornment instead of as productive employees (Locker, 2003).

[Although this paraphrase does a good job of changing the wording, it is not effective for two main reasons. First, it follows the sentence structure of the original passage too closely. Second, it fails to mention anything about "male colleagues or superiors." It also follows the same order or structure of ideas.]

Paraphrase B:

Some statements may be inappropriate in one context, even though they are complimentary in another. Compliments by male colleagues or superiors regarding a female coworker’s appearance, for example, often make the woman feel uncomfortable. Instead of treating the women as contributing workers, men obviously think of them as visual decoration (Locker, 2003).

[While this paraphrase does a better job of changing the sentence structure, it also is uneffective. It uses too many of the words from the original passage. Further, it changes the meaning when it declares that "men obviously think of them as visual decoration." It also follows the same order or structure of ideas]

Paraphrase C:

Women may feel uneasy upon receiving ordinarily positive comments on their appearance from male coworkers or supervisors. To these women, the remarks carry an implied meaning: instead of being thought of as productive employees, they are actually being viewed as just a pretty part of the atmosphere. Depending on the situation, words or expressions which appear favorable may actually be unsuitable in a conversation (Locker, 2003).

[This paraphrase is the most effective. In addition to changing both the wording and sentence structure, it includes all points and retains the meaning of the original passage. It also changes the order of ideas.]

Next, you can test your understanding of paraphrasing by  completing the exercises .

what does paraphrasing help with

3 Benefits of Paraphrasing: The Skill for Learning, Writing and Communicating

Paraphrasing is the underrated skill of reinstating, clarifying or condensing the ideas of another in your own words. By paraphrasing, you can curate credible and well-developed documents, and arguments. But there’s more to paraphrasing than the final result, the process of paraphrasing engages your ability to learn actively, write well, and communicate creatively.

what does paraphrasing help with

Paraphrasing allows you to share another’s ideas in your own words. This powerful technique is useful in both written and verbal communication, and acts as a tool for conveying information effectively. Paraphrasing is an underrated skill that is beneficial to a variety of individuals from students and writers to employees and business owners. In any setting, sharing information well is the key to good quality work and results. The process of paraphrasing itself also has a number of benefits, making you a better learner, writer and communicator. 

Paraphrasing: The Active Learning Strategy 

Paraphrasing requires you to think about the information you want to convey. You need to understand the meaning in order to reword and restructure the idea, and share it effectively. The process of paraphrasing encourages you to get to the core message, and improves your understanding of the material. In this way, you are actively engaging with the material . Instead of passively reading, you are breaking down the ideas and concepts. Rather than slotting information into your writing, you’re reworking and tailoring it to your needs and your audience. 

Paraphrasing can improve your memory by encouraging you to engage with the information. The 5-step approach to paraphrasing suggests writing your first paraphrase without looking at the original material. This engages your ability to actively recall information from memory, and think of new ways to write it out, rather than simply trying to memorise what you read word for word. After your first draft, you’ll revisit the original material to check if your work conveys the same meaning, this part of the process can further strengthen memory. You’re again revisiting the material in a way that is active and assessing your understanding. Likewise, the practice of paraphrasing improves your ability to convey information, ensuring that it is well-written and tailored to your audience.

This learning method is particularly useful for exams. You’ll learn the material well, developing a deep understanding and continue to refine this as you paraphrase the information. You’ll also be practising your ability to share this information in a way that is well-written, avoids plagiarism and engages your audience. This means, you’ll be able to easily add these ideas into your assignments or exams, having already taken the time to understand the ideas deeply and even practised sharing this information. You’ll be able to show the depth of your learning through paraphrasing, proving you understand the bigger picture and the finer details. 

Paraphrasing: The Technique for Improving Writing Ability

Once you’ve understood the concept well, the process of paraphrasing can improve your writing ability in a variety of ways. You’ll improve your vocabulary by making use of synonyms and identifying key words. You might also switch between word categories, using a noun instead of a verb or changing  adjectives into adverbs. Overtime, this will make you a better writer. Paraphrasing is more than changing a few words and can involve switching between the active or passive voice, this can improve your ability to distinguish between the two. Effective paraphrasing also involves playing around with sentence structure, you might utilise shorter or longer sentences to convey the idea at hand. 

These benefits can still be found even when using paraphrasing tools . You’ll still have to test your understanding by assessing the paraphrase the tool produced. Likewise, you’ll be exposed to new ways of writing things, new words, sentence structures, and organisation. You’ll learn how to pick out the paraphrasing styles that do or don’t work for your writing. Beyond the more technical aspects of writing, paraphrasing can also teach you how to communicate more clearly. You might rearrange the information to emphasise a particular point, or simplify the language to make it accessible to your audience. This improves your ability to clarify the ideas of the original material, and make ideas that might be overly complex, easier to digest. 

Paraphrasing: The Skill for Better Communication 

Finally, paraphrasing can make you a better and more creative communicator. By engaging in the process of paraphrasing, you’re developing your ability to share one idea in a variety of ways. For this to be engaging, you have to get creative. You might play around with the tone, switching between formal, informal, casual, or persuasive. Imagine a business launching a new product, communicating the idea to various internal teams, and customers, each would require a different approach and yet the meaning behind the information would remain the same. 

You might ask questions such as, how can I tailor this information to my audience? How can I bring this aspect of the idea to life? This highlights how paraphrasing can really exercise your ability to communicate creatively. Similarly, paraphrasing can teach you how to share ideas in your own personal way. Whether you’re sharing an idea with a friend, or on social media, you’ll find you can share information in your own personal style while still retaining the original meaning. This can make ideas more accessible and relatable to those in your circle. Additionally, this can prove to be a useful skill in your career, studies or creative endeavours.

what does paraphrasing help with

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    Paraphrasing means putting someone else's ideas into your own words. Paraphrasing a source involves changing the wording while preserving the

  10. Learn to Paraphrase

    In this handout, we'll look at how to paraphrase your sources. A paraphrase is a detailed restatement in your own words of a written or sometimes spoken

  11. 3 Benefits of Paraphrasing: The Skill for Learning, Writing ...

    Paraphrasing allows you to share another's ideas in your own words. This powerful technique is useful in both written and verbal communication