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Paideia 112 Research Unit

Steps to Paraphrasing

To paraphrase, follow the steps below:

  1. Read the original text until you grasp its meaning; then set it aside.
  2. Write down the main points or concepts. Do not copy the text verbatim.
  3. Change the structure of the text by varying the opening, changing the order of sentences, lengthening or shortening sentences, etc.
  4. Replace keywords with synonyms or phrases with similar meanings.
  5. Check your notes against the original to ensure you have not accidentally plagiarized. 

Avoiding Plagiarism

Even if you paraphrase or put something into your own words, you still need to cite the original source. To avoid plagiarizing someone else words or ideas, make sure you:

  • Paraphrase the original text into your own words. Be sure you are not just rearranging phrases or replacing a couple of words.
  • Use quotation marks around text that has been taken directly from the original source.
  • Cite every source of information you use to write your paper unless it is common knowledge. This includes facts, figures, and statistics as well as opinions and arguments.

Example of Careful Paraphrasing

As you compose your notecards, be alert to the different strategies in notetaking: summary, paraphrase, direct quotation. If you decide you need the exact phrasing of the original, copy it word for word and label it as a DIRECT quotation clearly. If you want the idea within the original, consider writing a paraphrase note, with some key phrases quoted directly. Here’s an example of one:

In More’s Utopia, Hythloday describes at length what constitutes “bodily pleasure” for these citizens. He argues that “when a person’s health is not disturbed by any disease,” that person exists in a “peaceful and desirable” state which may represent to the Utopians the highest form of “pleasure.” This may seem contradictory to some, who assume pleasure consists in an abundance of money or property. (88)

The reason that you can tell this is an actual paraphrase is that it’s written in the writer’s own, modern English, and the sentence structure does not mirror that of the original. The key phrases are clearly shown as direct quotations with quotation marks, and the writer has included the page number of the source where the information was found.

Further Reading

The Little Seagull Handbook

  • Paraphrasing
    pp. 100-102
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