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Plagiarism: Understand and Avoid It!: How to paraphrase

What is plagiarism? How do you quote a source without plagiarizing? Review this material to learn how!

How to Paraphrase

1.       When you read a passage, make sure you understand it as a whole concept before you write down particular words or phrases.

2.       Summarize the material.  If you aren’t quoting a passage directly, you can usually summarize it, cutting down on the less important points and emphasizing the main points.

3.       Imagine you’re explaining the concept to a friend.  Look away from your notes and say it out loud, using  your own natural language, no matter how informal it might sound!  Write down what you just said.  Then edit what you wrote, correcting or formalizing your wording.

4.       Or, take notes on the material you’re paraphrasing.  Look away from your notes for awhile, then come back to them and write your paraphrase based on your notes.  This will remove your thoughts from the original passage enough that you’ll be less likely to plagiarize. 

5.       If you have trouble explaining an idea in your own words, you may not understand it well enough yet.  Read it again, and consider asking for assistance from a friend, your professor, a librarian, or staff in the Writing Center, in order to make sure you understand it well enough to explain it to others.

6.       Note that you can use direct quotations as part a paraphrase.  So if an author uses a phrase that’s just exactly right, that you don’t want to change, put those few words in quotation marks within your paraphrase.

7.       Remember to cite your paraphrase at the end of the passage.