Breaking Down Paraphrase

Five steps to paraphrasing
The five steps to paraphrasing. Image courtesy of

Paraphrase is the act of rephrasing a set of ideas, articles or passages of an author into your own words. This very act is known as paraphrasing; basically, this involves using your own words to explain or clarify someone else’s works.

In a typical paraphrasing, the essential ideas and meaning from the primary source are retained; only the wording or phrasing is changed. It is important to protect the quality of the original meaning while presenting it in a new form.

The Five Steps of Paraphasing

  1. Ensure to read and understand the resourced material thoroughly before attempting to paraphrase it.
  2. Summarize the points and express them using your own words; do this by stating the main ideas without weakening its forcefulness and emphasis.
  3. Examine carefully for correlation with the sense as rightly expressed by the author.
  4. After meeting the preceding prerequisite; you may need to reexamine your paraphrased material; just so to ensure your wordings is correlated with the tone and meaning; while revalidating such words that may otherwise proved inconsistent to the sense of the primary source. However, where your wordings become too obvious in contrast to the primary source, it results to a different matter known as plagiarismOpens in new window.
  5. After everything is satisfactorily fine-tuned, you may include a citation for the primary source of the material thereby giving deserved respect to the ingenuity of the original author. For example: When the light was red, trains could not go (Wikipedia).
Example I
  • Her life spanned years of incredible change for women.
    Paraphrase Version
  • Mary lived through an era of liberating reform for women.
Example II
  • Any trip to Italy should include a visit to Tuscany to sample their exquisite wines.
    Paraphrase Version
  • Be sure to include a Tuscan wine-tasting experience when visiting Italy.
Example III
  • 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 Version
  • 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).
Making Efforts to Avoid Plagiarism

There is a thin line between plagiarism and paraphrasing. If the wording of the paraphrase is too close to the wording of the original content, then it is plagiarism Opens in new window. The main ideas need to come through, but the wording has to be your own.

To use another person’s writing in your own can be accomplished with quotes and citations. A quote will need to be the exact wording and the author and source will need to be identified.

Paraphrasing usually makes the passage shorter than the original. Another option is to use a summary that is much shorter than the original and is an overview of the main points. —(Courtesy: Your Dictionary: Avoiding Plagiarism [citation below].)