What is paraphrasing? Learn paraphrasing in 5 easy steps

What is paraphrasing? Learn paraphrasing in 5 easy steps

What is paraphrasing? Learn paraphrasing in 5 easy steps

Paraphrasing definition

A Paraphrasing is rewriting of a specific passage from some other source of information. It is written in your own words, without changing the original meaning or removing any information. In other words, paraphrasing is the use of different words to restate a text or  passage in order to achieve a clearer meaning by retaining the original meaning or idea of the text. The statement need not be in written form only; both spoken and written text can be paraphrased.

Why is paraphrasing useful?

Paraphrasing is a useful method for academic scholars or students who have to study and memorize or remember a lot of things. In such cases, paraphrasing can help students remember a particular text or idea and create a concept that will be useful to them. It helps to improve a scholar’s illustrative skills as well as broaden his or her understanding of the subject.

Paraphrasing aids scholars to produce and present scholarly work with greater understanding that is concise and clearer in its presentation and meaning.

Five steps to paraphrasing

Step 1: Read it several times

Read the passage several times to fully understand the meaning

Step 2:  Note down the key concepts

Step 3: Write your own version

Write your own version of the text without looking at the original

Step 4: Compare the texts

Compare your paraphrased text with the original, and if you find phrases that are too similar, make the changes accordingly.

Step 5: Cite the source        

For example, “More than 42 million tourists travelled to or within the Netherlands that year, representing a 9% increase.” (DutchNews.nl, 2018). Cite the source of the text as shown in the example. Nevertheless, bear in mind that while paraphrasing quotation marks need not be used.

Four tips to rephrase text

1. Start at a different point from the original

2. Use synonyms

3. Change the sentence structure: Use passive voice if the original passage was written in active voice and vice versa; modify the syntax of the text.

4. Break up long sentences or combine shorter ones.

Paraphrasing examples 

Original quote: “But the hearing was about more than Facebook; it exposed a critical turning point as the power, sophistication and potential exploitation of technology outpaces what users, regulators or even its creators expected or seem prepared to handle” (Roose & Kang, 2018, para. 11).

Paraphrased version: “The hearing made it apparent that the expectations of creators, regulators and users have been rapidly eclipsed by technology in general, not only Facebook. Such technologies now extend beyond what these parties are able to manage, due to their immense influence, potential for exploitation and sophistication” (Roose & Kang, 2018, para. 11)

In this example, how the 4 tips were applied can be seen. First, we introduced the context followed by the last part of the original sentence, which is “users, regulators or even its creators expected,” changed to “the expectations of creators, regulators and users.”

Second, we have also used a few synonyms such as “exposed a critical turning point,” to “made it apparent,” or “outpaces” into “rapidly eclipsed,” or “power” changed into “immense influence.”

Third, we changed the active voice into passive voice such as “technology outpaces what users, regulators or event its creators expected,” changed into “the expectations of creators, regulators, and users have been rapidly eclipsed by technology.”

Fourth, the original passage was one long sentence, which is broken into two smaller sentences.

Now, as you are made familiar with paraphrasing, make sure it is not confused with quoting, which is “when you copy a source word by word.” In academic context, you should paraphrase most of the information you found instead of quoting, if you have done your research thoroughly. Which is ultimately a better solution that shows that you have a good understanding the information, and your paper will have a much better flow, plus your voice will remain dominant throughout the paper. With that being said, only use a quote when you are stating a definition, presenting an author’s position, or when you want to support your argument.

Why is paraphrasing important?

In academia or academic writing, paraphrasing is a highly crucial skill that scholars have to master, as it helps them to write their thesis and work on their research papers, assignments, and subject-related projects, which, in turn, helps them to present their work in a clear and organized manner, attaining a logical flow of information and novelty. Academic-related subjects require thorough study and preparation before venturing into writing. As the scope of creating information is narrow in formal or academic writing, scholars and researchers need to master paraphrasing to present available information in different ways, so as to showcase a strong understanding on the subject.

How is paraphrasing different from summarizing

Summary meaning

In the academic context, “A summary is a brief statement or restatement of the main points of a topic.” It does not include needless details or formalities. It is usually written to conclude a work. A summary is a concise and systematic collection of data or information, but condensed to present only the crux of the topic.

Summary is usually used while writing a research paper, especially when wording is not important, but it becomes necessary to convey and incorporate the idea of another person’s writing. In summary, it is not necessary to mention the original author’s name unless it includes a passage or text written by the author.

Paraphrasing meaning

In the academic context, paraphrasing is a method used by scholars or researchers who present words of another person by changing the text or passage in order to make it more elaborate or concise. In paraphrasing, apart from the words being changed, the original meaning or idea remains the same, and the credit is still given to the original author.

Difference between paraphrasing and summary

1. Paraphrasing is a presentation of the idea belonging to another author by restating his or her words or written text in your own words, and summary is a condensed version of the main ideas or points of the author in your own words.

2. While summarizing, the focus in on shortening the text or passage, whereas paraphrasing entails rephrasing of the original text by changing the sentence structure or word choice.

3. Summary is the shorter version of the original essay, while a paraphrase has almost the same length as the original text or passage.

4. Summary does not include information and details from the original text that are not required, while paraphrasing includes all the details and information included in the original text.

How paraphrasing contributes to academic integrity

Paraphrasing helps scholars to avoid plagiarism. In the academic context, instead of copying information or text from the source, paraphrasing allows students or scholars to ethically use and incorporate ideas from sources into their writing. Regardless of the statement being rephrased, the credit is given to the original author which helps promote and acknowledge the original author’s work.

Paraphrasing also brings to light to scholarly community that scholars and students have done a thorough study and research of the topic they are presenting. It serves as a morale booster to scholars and authors, making their contribution useful in the field. Additionally, paraphrasing makes the original work more understandable and adds to the value and credibility or useability of the original work.


As academic integrity is about sharing and engaging in scholarly work through authentic and responsible use of information, paraphrasing plays a crucial role in encouraging and upholding academic integrity.

Relevant links

How to master the academic writing process? Formulating a strong hypothesis – Author Assists Blog

How to write an effective literature review for academic publishing – Author Assists Blog

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