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 paraphrase in Josie's paper:


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.

Paraphrase in Paper (MLA)

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).

And this complete citation appears in her "Works Cited" list.

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