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Information Literacy: Paraphrasing Techniques

Computer Skill Lessons for grade 9 students

How to Paraphrase:

There are several methods that can be used to paraphrase effectively. I encourage you to use the "look away" method described below from the Writing Center at Walden University:

a.       Reread the original passage you wish to paraphrase, looking up any words you do not recognize, until you think you understand the full meaning of and intention behind the author's words.

b.      Next, cover or hide the passage. Once the passage is hidden from view, write out the author's idea, in your own words, as if you were explaining it to your instructor or classmates.

c.       After you have finished writing, check your account of the author's idea against the original. While comparing the two, ask yourself the following questions:

  i.      Have I accurately addressed the author's ideas in a new way that is unique to my writing style and scholarly voice?

 ii.      Have I tried to replicate the author's idea or have I simply changed words around in his/her original sentence(s)?

d.      Next, look for any borrowed terms or particular phrases you have taken from the original passage. Enclose these terms and phrases in quotation marks to indicate to your readers that these words were taken directly from the original text.

e.       Last, include a citation, which should contain the author's name, the year, and the page or paragraph number (if available), directly following your paraphrase.

From “Effective Paraphrasing”  by Walden University retrieved from http://writingcenter.waldenu.edu/295.htm

Please review the methods of paraphrasing described on the webpage, "How to Paraphrase a Source"

Pay close attention to the tips provided about how to make a paraphrase with difficult texts.

Paraphrase Example

When you paraphrase, you say something in different words. The length of your paraphrased text will be approximately the same as the original.

Original Example:

In the third season, Giles was officially relieved from his Watcher duties, but he ignores that and continues as Buffy's trainer, confidant, and father-figure.

Paraphrased Example:

Despite his termination by the Watcher's Council in season three, Giles persists to teach and counsel Buffy while playing a "father-figure" role (DeCandido 44).

DeCandido, Graceanne A. "Bibliographic Good vs. Evil in Buffy the Vampire Slayer." American Libraries. Sept. 1999: 44-47.


Important note: When you paraphrase, you still must cite the source of the information or idea. If you do not, you may be guilty of plagiarism.

When you have finished, compare your paraphrase with the original:

  • Have you simply changed a few words to synonyms? Try again. Being handy with a thesaurus is not enough to make the sentence yours.
  • Have you included exact sequences of words from the original? If so, make sure to put quotation marks around those phrases, or re-write until the entire paraphrase is your words.
  • Have you retained the meaning of the original? Changing the author's meaning is not plagiarism, but academic honesty requires you to represent other's work accurately in your writing.

From the EPH Survival Guide

Paraphrasing infographic

Paraphrase Practice

The attached worksheet is intended for extra practice if paraphrasing is new to you. The answers to each section are included at the end. You do not have to hand this in.