Paraphrase – this is how you do it!

19.07.21 Including sources Time to read: 6min

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If you have a problem writing your term paper, then the way forward is paraphrasing what you learned in class. In this article, we’ll have a look at what it means to paraphrase a text and cover a step-by-step guide on how to paraphrase a passage. Also, this guide will highlight the difference between paraphrases and how it differs from quoting, and summarization.

Paraphrase - FAQ

Paraphrase is a concept used to beat plagiarism; it’s the synthesis of somaeone else’s idea into your own words. In other words, it’s the act of rewriting a passage without necessarily changing its original meaning. Unlike quoting, paraphrasing is more about explaining yourself what you’ve understood about a particular topic while relaying the key points of the subject in question.

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The easiest dummy to master paraphrasing is using the 4Rs of paraphrasing: Read, restate, recheque repair. Read allows you to understand the topic. Restate allows you to memorize essential topics of discussion. Recheque allows you access to the passage once more. And repair allows you to perfect your work.

There are numerous advantages of paraphrasing. However, the most important one is to show your understanding of the topic in question. If you are writing your term paper, you will want to impress your lectures and prove you understand the topic in question; paraphrasing is the way to go.

While quoting has its muments in writing, using paraphrases in your work is the real deal when you want to impose your tone onto the audience. Aside from the tone, using paraphrases instead of quotes shows that you understand what you are writing about.

Lastly, paraphrasing is a better option if you want to make your text simple. Using quotes compels you to supplement your writing with numerous punctuation marks and a change from active to passive voices. In turn, this will affect your readability score, thus branding your passage as complex.

Paraphrase: Definition

To paraphrase is to reword a passage (either written or spoken) using different words to achieve clarity over a given topic.

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How to paraphrase a text step by step guide


Go through your source material frequently

When you want to paraphrase a given topic, you will go through numerous publications and authored work. As such, you’ll be bombarded with information from multiple sources and publications. Putting this information together can be a challenge if you don’t understand the topic in discussion. As such, you’ll end up with inconsistent content that is hard to understand.

If you want to avoid this scenario, read and reread your sources severally until you thoroughly understand the topic. Doing this will help you understand the subject, derive a hypothesis, and know what is information is relevant to your paper. Pro tip: when going through the content, highlight key points you’d like to take. This will make it easy when compiling information.


Prioritize consistency

With the research phase done, the next step is breaking your significant points into meaningful chunks. For this step, derive a summary of each point while expressing it in your own words. The best route through this step is listing the main point followed by an explanation of the subject. Keep in mind to explain each subtopic minus weakening its gist and emphasis.

And with that done, examine if your work correlates rightfully with the author. In such a case, ask yourself questions like, “Am I on topic, and how relevant is my paraphrase?” Doing so will help you come up with factual yet legitimate content.


Screen your work for plagiarism

After meeting the desired criterion, your next step is to examine your paraphrased content for plagiarism. This ensures that your tone is relevant to the source material but is different in terms of wording. For this, fine-tune your work, get rid of any inconsistencies, and ensure your paraphrased text free of plagiarism. A good start would be to:

  • Tweak the sentence structure of your passage.
  • Use synonyms when you can.
  • Use different connecting words.
  • Make longer sentences shorter.
  • Change the order of your ideas, especially for listed content.
  • And finally changing the order of words.

If you are unfamiliar with plagiarism, worry not. It’s the act of chequeing whether your content is exact—in terms of wording—with the original content. chequeing for plagiarism is easy since there are numerous plagiarism tools online.


Give the author the respect he deserves and cite your work

With your text near perfection, the next step is citing sources. It’s only right that you acknowledge the author for their effort and hours inwaistcoated in publishing, editing, and writing.

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Paraphrase vs. quote

Differences in terms of meaning

Paraphrasing and quoting content are almost similar in nature. However, the two distinctively different depending on how you present your content in relation to your source material. If you successfully go through a book and end up writing short notes while at it, you’ll have paraphrased it. However, if you go through the same book and end up using direct quotes, you’ll be quoting the book.

How paraphrases and quotes are used

Each of the following is used under different circumstances. Paraphrasing, in particular, is used for the following reasons:

  • If you want to make your text more readable
  • Also, you paraphrase If you want to have a say over your content
  • Lastly, if you want to show your audience you understand the topic in question.

On the other hand, quoting is appropriate when:

  • Giving precise definitions.
  • Laying out evidence to your audience.
  • Slamming a point made by the author.

Paraphrasing vs. summarizing

The concept behind paraphrasing and summarizing are nearly the same, although there’s a distinction between the two. If you want to paraphrase a passage, you’ll have to develop a similar passage that approximately matches the source. On the other hand, summarizing a text involves writing a substantial brief about that particular topic.

If you were to paraphrase a journal of three pages, you’d have to write a copy of at least three pages of that journal. Inversely if you were to summarize the same journal, you’d only write a paragraph of the said journal. This means that if you decide to paraphrase a topic, you’ll have to discuss the topic in depth. However, if you were to write a summary, you’ll only write critical points of the topic in question.

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In a Nutshell

All in all, mastering paraphrases and how it works can be confusing. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean that you can’t understand paraphrases and how to use them to your advantage. As stated above, to paraphrase a passage is to encapsulate it into your own words. Paraphrases are an excellent way for students to share what they understand from class, minus quoting everything from a book.