How to Paraphrase: The Do’s and Don’ts

In a time where we are constantly sharing and resharing forms of information, it is crucial that we are careful of how we present them. As you may know, we cannot just copy our research word for word and be done with it. We have to rephrase all of these sentences or use quotation marks to give credit to the original source and to ensure that no plagiarism is present within our work.

Enter paraphrasing a process of restructuring ideas, using different words, and omitting or adding details, while still maintaining the essence of the original material. It is one of the useful writing skills to master and is quite practical in many fields. Whether it would be in essays, articles, or thesis papers, both academic writers and students are highly dependent on a paraphrasing strategy as one of their main tools.

With how important it is to avoid plagiarizing the work of others, especially at the peak of mass communication, this article is to highlight the ways to help you paraphrase sentences the right way!

A Brief Definition

One common definition for paraphrasing would be the act of expressing the original author’s thoughts using different words and sentence structures. The goal of this practice is to not only produce unique writing but to also optimize for readability. 

Aside from the paraphrasing strategy, quotation, summarization, and citation are all viable methods of writing with no plagiarism and these can have their own set of differences from one another.

Paraphrasing and Quoting

In contrast to paraphrasing, quoting makes use of directly copying words and punctuations and encasing them in quotation marks. 

This type of practice is accompanied by the mentioning of the original source usually preceded by the words “according to.” When we paraphrase sentences, we do not copy the exact same words. Instead, we use similar words to replace them, while keeping the message intact.

Paraphrasing and Summary

Summarizing involves restating the entire passage while emphasizing its main idea. The entire purpose of a summary is to slim the writing down to get the entire gist within a shorter piece of text. Summarizing is often useful for explaining lengthy subject matter within a shorter period of time. Paraphrasing, on the other hand, focuses on restructuring all details within the original text, maintaining its essence without leaving anything out. 

The Perfect Paraphrasing Strategy

There is never one definitive way to ensure no plagiarism is present in your research. However, there are a number of guidelines to keep in mind in order to paraphrase sentences properly. To keep things simple today, we decided to prepare a list in the form of dos and don’ts. We hope that the contrasts of these actions can clarify what not to do and what you should do. 

Do’s of Paraphrasing

To start the list off, we have a set of helpful tips that you could incorporate into your paraphrasing strategy. Within this guideline, you may discover new ways to come about how you paraphrase sentences.

Internalize the source material

It is incredibly difficult to rephrase sentences properly without understanding the original text first. This tip highlights how essential it is to grasp the topic properly before you start writing about them. In research, this often boils down to a simple and straightforward process: reading extensively, internalizing, and writing in your own words. 

Use notecards

One helpful tip to stay organized while paraphrasing sentences is to use notecards. Because these notes are tangible, they provide an easier method for tracking specific details and arranging ideas to construct an outline. 

Try the Plotnick method

A great practice to help paraphrase sentences is Plotnick’s method. Essentially, this trick boils down to using point-based note-taking to guide you. To use this method, you can follow these steps closely:

  • In your own words, jot down the specific details you would like to emphasize.
  • Turn these details into full sentences.
  • Reference the original source you used.
  • Review the overall differences between your work and the original text. 

Observe time management

Paraphrasing can be a time-extensive task and it often requires a lot of care and precision. Take your time and really zero in on the ideas that you want to bring out. For writing itself, there are plenty of tips on how to write faster, and learning a few will greatly improve your time management!

Don’ts of Paraphrasing

To achieve the perfect paraphrasing strategy, it’s not enough to learn new useful habits, you also have to get rid of bad ones. Not to worry, however, we got your back with a list of don’ts! Be mindful to avoid these tendencies whenever you paraphrase sentences.

Don’t rewrite sentences too closely

In order to make sure that no plagiarism ends up in your work, we need to make sure that the final product isn’t too similar to the initial source. It’s easy for some writers to replace a few words here, move a clause there, and call it a day. The most effective kind of paraphrasing involves intention and could lead you to a final piece of writing that is essentially one of your own.

Don’t use difficult synonyms

We all want to aim for a sense of uniqueness when we paraphrase, just to add a bit of our own identity into the work. However, this doesn’t mean we should go overboard with adding too many highfalutin words, as they can startle or confuse some readers. Experts would advise keeping writings at a reading level of 8, so be sure to use some tools to keep that in check.

Don’t rely too much on a thesaurus

Knowing how to use a thesaurus can be a helpful tool for rewriting sentences because it allows you to search up related words in a quick and concise manner. This starts to become a problem when the writer relies too much on this repository to instantly replace a few chosen words with synonyms. Remember, put time and effort into understanding your subject matter and write everything from your own insight. This makes sure that absolutely no plagiarism remains in the final draft. 

Don’t be lazy

To summarize all of the aforementioned tips, paraphrasing truly isn’t an endeavor you could slouch on. Sure, you are provided with a reliable source, but that doesn’t mean it can be copied word for word. Yes, there are plenty of synonyms that can be used as replacements for some texts, but that doesn’t make it a viable paraphrasing strategy. To observe “no plagiarism”, take the time to truly understand, write, and edit your work. You will definitely gain valuable knowledge as a bonus.


It is helpful to remember that the act of paraphrasing is just as beneficial to the researcher as it is to the readers it is intended for. This act can be essential for allowing the researchers to internalize all of the information they have accumulated and present them again through their own words and understanding. We hope that you found this piece helpful. Best of luck with your writing and paraphrasing!

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