Integrity Matters
Citing and Documenting
Surviving the Semester

Tips on Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing can be tricky. You need to make sure that you don't copy the original author's style or wording. Even if you have a citation, such borrowing would be considered plagiarism. Paraphrases should sound like you, using vocabulary and sentence structures that your reader would recognize as your work. To make sure you are not plagiarizing unintentionally, think about and jot down the source's main points. Then, write your paraphrase without looking at the original. 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.
Here's an example of a good paraphrase from Mizuki's paper:


To the extent that a woman's self-image is challenged or threatened by an unattainable ideal of an impossibly thin female physique, she may well become susceptible to disruption of her self-regard, and may be more likely to develop an eating disorder.

Paraphrase in Paper (APA)

If a woman interprets the media's representation of thinness as the ideal she must achieve, her sense of self-esteem might be threatened and even damaged, making her more likely to exhibit disordered eating patterns (Polivy & Herman, 2004, p. 2).

Note: APA does not require a page number reference for summaries, but you are encouraged to include it when it would help the reader find the relevant information in a long text. Be sure to ask your professor whether page numbers are needed for summaries in papers written for his/her class.

This complete citation appears in Mizuki's reference list:

Polivy, J., & Herman, C. P. (2004). Sociocultural idealization of thin female body shapes: An introduction to the special issue on body image and eating disorders. Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, 23, 1-6. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.134.3.460