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Meaning of paraphrase in English

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  • din something into someone
  • drum something into someone
  • flog yourself to death idiom
  • reiteration
  • repetitively
  • restatement
  • I would take issue with your paraphrase of my position .
  • She does not follow Shakespeare's text but has devised her own paraphrase of it.
  • Allow me to end my first speech with my own paraphrase of the statement .

paraphrase | American Dictionary

Examples of paraphrase, translations of paraphrase.

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examining and considering your own ideas, thoughts, and feelings, instead of talking to other people about them

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  • How to Paraphrase | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples

How to Paraphrase | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples

Published on April 8, 2022 by Courtney Gahan and Jack Caulfield. Revised on June 1, 2023.

Paraphrasing means putting someone else’s ideas into your own words. Paraphrasing a source involves changing the wording while preserving the original meaning.

Paraphrasing is an alternative to  quoting (copying someone’s exact words and putting them in quotation marks ). In academic writing, it’s usually better to integrate sources by paraphrasing instead of quoting. It shows that you have understood the source, reads more smoothly, and keeps your own voice front and center.

Every time you paraphrase, it’s important to cite the source . Also take care not to use wording that is too similar to the original. Otherwise, you could be at risk of committing plagiarism .

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Table of contents

How to paraphrase in five easy steps, how to paraphrase correctly, examples of paraphrasing, how to cite a paraphrase, paraphrasing vs. quoting, paraphrasing vs. summarizing, avoiding plagiarism when you paraphrase, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about paraphrasing.

If you’re struggling to get to grips with the process of paraphrasing, check out our easy step-by-step guide in the video below.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

Putting an idea into your own words can be easier said than done. Let’s say you want to paraphrase the text below, about population decline in a particular species of sea snails.

Incorrect paraphrasing

You might make a first attempt to paraphrase it by swapping out a few words for  synonyms .

Like other sea creatures inhabiting the vicinity of highly populated coasts, horse conchs have lost substantial territory to advancement and contamination , including preferred breeding grounds along mud flats and seagrass beds. Their Gulf home is also heating up due to global warming , which scientists think further puts pressure on the creatures , predicated upon the harmful effects extra warmth has on other large mollusks (Barnett, 2022).

This attempt at paraphrasing doesn’t change the sentence structure or order of information, only some of the word choices. And the synonyms chosen are poor:

  • “Advancement and contamination” doesn’t really convey the same meaning as “development and pollution.”
  • Sometimes the changes make the tone less academic: “home” for “habitat” and “sea creatures” for “marine animals.”
  • Adding phrases like “inhabiting the vicinity of” and “puts pressure on” makes the text needlessly long-winded.
  • Global warming is related to climate change, but they don’t mean exactly the same thing.

Because of this, the text reads awkwardly, is longer than it needs to be, and remains too close to the original phrasing. This means you risk being accused of plagiarism .

Correct paraphrasing

Let’s look at a more effective way of paraphrasing the same text.

Here, we’ve:

  • Only included the information that’s relevant to our argument (note that the paraphrase is shorter than the original)
  • Introduced the information with the signal phrase “Scientists believe that …”
  • Retained key terms like “development and pollution,” since changing them could alter the meaning
  • Structured sentences in our own way instead of copying the structure of the original
  • Started from a different point, presenting information in a different order

Because of this, we’re able to clearly convey the relevant information from the source without sticking too close to the original phrasing.

Explore the tabs below to see examples of paraphrasing in action.

  • Journal article
  • Newspaper article
  • Magazine article

Once you have your perfectly paraphrased text, you need to ensure you credit the original author. You’ll always paraphrase sources in the same way, but you’ll have to use a different type of in-text citation depending on what citation style you follow.

Generate accurate citations with Scribbr

It’s a good idea to paraphrase instead of quoting in most cases because:

  • Paraphrasing shows that you fully understand the meaning of a text
  • Your own voice remains dominant throughout your paper
  • Quotes reduce the readability of your text

But that doesn’t mean you should never quote. Quotes are appropriate when:

  • Giving a precise definition
  • Saying something about the author’s language or style (e.g., in a literary analysis paper)
  • Providing evidence in support of an argument
  • Critiquing or analyzing a specific claim

A paraphrase puts a specific passage into your own words. It’s typically a similar length to the original text, or slightly shorter.

When you boil a longer piece of writing down to the key points, so that the result is a lot shorter than the original, this is called summarizing .

Paraphrasing and quoting are important tools for presenting specific information from sources. But if the information you want to include is more general (e.g., the overarching argument of a whole article), summarizing is more appropriate.

When paraphrasing, you have to be careful to avoid accidental plagiarism .

This can happen if the paraphrase is too similar to the original quote, with phrases or whole sentences that are identical (and should therefore be in quotation marks). It can also happen if you fail to properly cite the source.

Paraphrasing tools are widely used by students, and can be especially useful for non-native speakers who may find academic writing particularly challenging. While these can be helpful for a bit of extra inspiration, use these tools sparingly, keeping academic integrity in mind.

To make sure you’ve properly paraphrased and cited all your sources, you could elect to run a plagiarism check before submitting your paper. And of course, always be sure to read your source material yourself and take the first stab at paraphrasing on your own.

If you want to know more about ChatGPT, AI tools , citation , and plagiarism , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • ChatGPT vs human editor
  • ChatGPT citations
  • Is ChatGPT trustworthy?
  • Using ChatGPT for your studies
  • What is ChatGPT?
  • Chicago style
  • Critical thinking


  • Types of plagiarism
  • Self-plagiarism
  • Avoiding plagiarism
  • Academic integrity
  • Consequences of plagiarism
  • Common knowledge

To paraphrase effectively, don’t just take the original sentence and swap out some of the words for synonyms. Instead, try:

  • Reformulating the sentence (e.g., change active to passive , or start from a different point)
  • Combining information from multiple sentences into one
  • Leaving out information from the original that isn’t relevant to your point
  • Using synonyms where they don’t distort the meaning

The main point is to ensure you don’t just copy the structure of the original text, but instead reformulate the idea in your own words.

Paraphrasing without crediting the original author is a form of plagiarism , because you’re presenting someone else’s ideas as if they were your own.

However, paraphrasing is not plagiarism if you correctly cite the source . This means including an in-text citation and a full reference, formatted according to your required citation style .

As well as citing, make sure that any paraphrased text is completely rewritten in your own words.

Plagiarism means using someone else’s words or ideas and passing them off as your own. Paraphrasing means putting someone else’s ideas in your own words.

So when does paraphrasing count as plagiarism?

  • Paraphrasing is plagiarism if you don’t properly credit the original author.
  • Paraphrasing is plagiarism if your text is too close to the original wording (even if you cite the source). If you directly copy a sentence or phrase, you should quote it instead.
  • Paraphrasing  is not plagiarism if you put the author’s ideas completely in your own words and properly cite the source .

To present information from other sources in academic writing , it’s best to paraphrase in most cases. This shows that you’ve understood the ideas you’re discussing and incorporates them into your text smoothly.

It’s appropriate to quote when:

  • Changing the phrasing would distort the meaning of the original text
  • You want to discuss the author’s language choices (e.g., in literary analysis )
  • You’re presenting a precise definition
  • You’re looking in depth at a specific claim

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Gahan, C. & Caulfield, J. (2023, June 01). How to Paraphrase | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from

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Paraphrasing, Summarising and Quoting

Much of the work you produce at university will involve the important ideas, writings and discoveries of experts in your field of study. Quoting, paraphrasing and summarising are all different ways of including the works of others in your assignments.

Paraphrasing and summarising allow you to develop and demonstrate your understanding and interpretation of the major ideas/concepts of your discipline, and to  avoid plagiarism.

Paraphrasing and summarising require analytical and writing skills which are crucial to success at university.

What are the differences?


  • does not match the source word for word
  • involves putting a passage from a source into your own words
  • changes the words or phrasing of a passage, but retains and fully communicates the original meaning
  • must be attributed to the original source.


  • involves putting the main idea(s) into your own words, but including only the main point(s)
  • presents a broad overview, so is usually much shorter than the original text
  • match the source word for word
  • are usually a brief segment of the text
  • appear between quotation marks

What is a quotation?  

A quotation is an exact reproduction of spoken or written words. Quotes can provide strong evidence, act as an authoritative voice, or support a writer's statements. For example:

Bell and Bell (1993) point out in their study of Australian-American cultural relations: "culture is never simply imposed 'from above' but is negotiated through existing patterns and traditions." (Bell & Bell 1993, p. 9)

Use a quote:

  • when the author's words convey a powerful meaning
  • when the exact words are important
  • when you want to use the author as an authoritative voice in your own writing
  • to introduce an author's position you may wish to discuss
  • to support claims in, or provide evidence for, your writing.

How to quote

Quoting should be done sparingly and support your own work, not replace it. For example, make a point in your own words, then support it with an authoritative quote.

  • appear between quotation marks (" ")
  • exactly reproduce text, including punctuation and capital letters.
  • A short quotation often works well when integrated into a sentence.
  • If any words need to be omitted for clarity, show the omission with an ellipsis ( ... ).
  • If any words need to be added to the quotation, put them between square brackets ([ ]).
  • Longer quotations (more than 3 lines of text) should start on a new line and be indented on both sides. 

What is paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing is a way of using different words and phrasing to present the same ideas. Paraphrasing is used with short sections of text, such as phrases and sentences.

A paraphrase offers an alternative to using direct quotations and allows you to integrate evidence/source material into assignments. Paraphrasing can also be used for note-taking and explaining information in tables, charts and diagrams.

When to paraphrase

Paraphrase short sections of work only i.e. a sentence or two or a short paragraph:

  • as an alternative to a direct quotation
  • to rewrite someone else's ideas without changing the meaning
  • to express someone else's ideas in your own words

How to paraphrase

  • Read the original source carefully. It is essential that you understand it fully.
  • Identify the main point(s) and key words.
  • Cover the original text and rewrite it in your own words. Check that you have included the main points and essential information.
  • Ensure that you keep the original meaning and maintain the same relationship between main ideas and supporting points.
  • Use synonyms (words or expression which have a similar meaning) where appropriate. Key words that are specialised subject vocabulary do not need to be changed.
  • If you want to retain unique or specialist phrases, use quotation marks (“ “).
  • Change the grammar and sentence structure. Break up a long sentence into two shorter ones or combine two short sentences into one. Change the voice (active/passive) or change word forms (e.g. nouns, adjectives).
  • Change the order in which information/ideas are presented, as long as they still make sense in a different order.
  • Identify the attitude of the authors to their subject (i.e. certain, uncertain, critical etc.) and make sure your paraphrase reflects this. Use the appropriate reporting word or phrase.
  • Review your paraphrase to check it accurately reflects the original text but is in your words and style.
  • Record the original source, including the page number, so that you can provide a reference.

What is a summary?

A summary is an overview of a text. The main aim of summarising is to reduce or condense a text to its most important ideas. Leave out details, examples and formalities. Summarising is a useful skill for making notes, writing an abstract/synopsis, and incorporating material in assignments.

When to summarise

Summarise long sections of work, like a long paragraph, page or chapter. 

  • To outline the main points of someone else's work in your own words, without the details or examples.
  • To include an author's ideas using fewer words than the original text.
  • To briefly give examples of several differing points of view on a topic.
  • To support claims in, or provide evidence for, your writing.

How to summarise

The amount of detail you include in a summary will vary according to the length of the original text, how much information you need, and how selective you are.

  • Start by reading a short text and highlighting the main points.
  • Reread the text and make notes of the main points, leaving out examples, evidence, etc.
  • Rewrite your notes in your own words; restate the main idea at the beginning plus all major points.
  • Transition signals in writing
  • Quotations and paraphrases
  • Punctuation
  • Paraphrasing, summarising, quoting
  • ^ More support

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How to Paraphrase to Avoid Plagiarism

paraphrase results meaning

What is Paraphrasing?

“Paraphrasing” means expressing the meaning of someone else’s words in your own words instead of quoting directly. Paraphrasing is applied both by the author of the text and by editors during the proofreading process .

By paraphrasing the work and arguments of others effectively, you can:

  • save space and keep your study more focused
  • distill complex information into language that general readers can understand
  • avoid plagiarism (including self-plagiarism ) and provide your own authorial voice in your paper

How to Paraphrase in Research

Direct Quote:  simply a “copy-and-paste” of the original words and/or word order. In all research papers with formatting guidelines (APA, AMA, MLA, etc.), quoted text must be accompanied by quotation marks and in-text citations.

Paraphrasing:   can include some key terms from the original work but must use new language to represent the original work—DO NOT COPY THE ORIGINAL WORK. When you paraphrase–that is, rewrite the text you want to use–you do not need to include quotation marks, but you must still cite the original work.

Paraphrasing Source Text

Step 1 : Read important parts of the source material until you fully understand its meaning.

Step 2 : Take some notes and list key terms of the source material.

Step 3:  Write your own paragraph without looking at the source material, only using the key terms.

Step 4:  Check to make sure your version captures important parts and intent of the source material.

Step 5:  Indicate where your paraphrasing starts and ends using in-text citations.

When to Paraphrase vs Use Direct Quotes

how to paraphrase direct quotes

Paraphrasing Examples in Research Writing

Use the following methods to make your paraphrases even stronger. Note that you should not apply only one of these rules in isolation—combine these techniques to reduce your chances of accidental plagiarism.

*Text in red indicates key changes from the source material.

Change the source text voice : active vs. passive voice

By changing the voice of the sentence (active voice to passive; passive voice to active—have a look at this article for details on the different roles of both voices in scientific writing), you can alter the general structure of your paraphrase and put it into words that are more your own.

how to paraphrase passive voice

Use a thesaurus to find synonyms and related terms

A thesaurus can be an excellent resource for finding terms that are synonymous with or similar to those in the original text, especially for non-native English speakers. However, be careful not to use terms that you don’t fully understand or that might not make sense in the context of your paper.

Include introductory phrases with signaling terms

Signaling terms (e.g., “they write ,” “Kim notes that…” “He believes that…”) help smoothly introduce the work of other studies and let the reader know where your own ideas end and where the cited information begins.

how to paraphrase direct quotes, examples

Use specific signaling verbs to show your position

Authors also show their positions regarding the original content by using verbs that are neutral , that show agreement , or that show disagreement . A relative pronoun (“that,” “how,” “if”) is also used in many instances. Include these terms to introduce your position in paraphrased content.

different methods of paraphrasing quotes

Merge multiple sentences into a one- or two-sentence paraphrase

One major reason for paraphrasing is to capture the main idea of the original text without using so many words. Use only one sentence or two in your paraphrase to capture the main idea—even if the original is an entire paragraph.

Original Source Text :

The journal primarily considers empirical and theoretical investigations that enhance understanding of cognitive, motivational, affective, and behavioral psychological phenomena in work and organizational settings, broadly defined. Those psychological phenomena can be at one or multiple levels — individuals, groups, organizations, or cultures; in work settings such as business, education, training, health, service, government, or military institutions; and in the public or private sector, for-profit or nonprofit organizations. (Source: Journal of Applied Psychology Website )

Paraphrased Source Text :

The Journal of Applied Psychology accepts studies that increase understanding of a broad range of psychological phenomena and that apply to a variety of settings and levels, not limited by subgroup, institution, or sector (JAP, 2015).

Combine quotes and paraphrased text in the same sentence

Too often, research writers separate information from the current work and information cited from earlier studies into completely different sentences. This limits the dialogue between the works, makes it boring for readers, and can even create issues of plagiarism if the paper is composed of too much quoted material. Include direct quotes within your paraphrased sentences to fix all of these issues and make your research writing much smoother and more natural.

Some details from the original source are quoted because they are taken directly from the text. They provide important information that readers might need to know and it thus makes more sense to use quotes here.

Cite your sources, create a References list, and copy your citations to MS Word using the following Wordvice Citation Generators:

how to paraphrase citations

Although paraphrasing can be very helpful in helping to reduce instances of plagiarism, writers still need to follow the rules of citation and referencing carefully. Here are a few rules to keep in mind when paraphrasing any original material, whether from someone else’s published work or your own work.

Here are a few things you must keep in mind when paraphrasing any original material, even your own earlier publications.

  • When you paraphrase, use your own terms along with the key terms from the source material.
  • Even when you paraphrase using your own terms, you still must provide in-text citations (according to the specific formatting requirements—APA, AMA, MLA , etc.).
  • If you are quoting or paraphrasing your own previous work, treat it as another person’s work (i.e., you must still use quotation marks and/or citations).

Example of Plagiarism in Paraphrasing

The following example is an attempt to paraphrase the above source text taken from the Journal of Applied Psychology website . Note that the author does not follow the above-mentioned rules to avoid plagiarizing the work. Psychology  website. Note that the author does not follow the above-mentioned rules to avoid plagiarizing the work.

Plagiarized Source Text

The Journal of Applied Psychology (JAP 2015) accepts empirical and theoretical investigations that increase knowledge of motivational, affective, cognitive, and behavioral psychological phenomena in many settings, broadly conceived. These phenomena can be at several levels—individual, teams, or cultures; in professional settings like business, education, training, health, government, or military institutions; and in either public or private sector, in nonprofit or for-profit institutions.

Some of the source text words have been changed or removed, but the underlined terms are identical to the original; overall the meaning and even the grammar structures have been copied. Finally, quotation marks are missing. Do not copy passages like this unless you put quotation marks around the content.

Examples of Multiple Attribution Methods:

In this paraphrase example, the details in the source text and how they have been changed in the paraphrase are indicated in red. Note the usage of signaling terms in each version to introduce the author’s content.

Original Source Tex t:

Fully grown penguins generate pressures of around  74 mm Hg  to excrete liquid material and  430 mm Hg  to excrete material of higher  viscosity similar to that of oil. ”

Direct Quote

In her study of Antarctic penguin defecation habits, Brooks (1995, p.4) wrote, “fully grown Chinstrap penguins generate pressures of around  74 mm Hg  to excrete liquid material and  430 mm Hg  to excrete material of higher  viscosity similar to that of oil. ”

*Quotations around quotes; citations included; many details provided; a complete sentence is quoted.

Paraphrased Text

When studying Chinstrap penguin defecation habits, Brooks (1995, p.4) observed that fully grown penguins generate a  much higher  pressure when excreting  more viscous  fecal matter.

*No quotation marks; citations included; the most important data fact is highlighted: “Penguins use more pressure to excrete thicker poo.”

Quote/Paraphrase Combination

When studying penguin defecation habits, Brooks (1995, p.4) observed that fully grown penguins vary in how they excrete waste, generating “pressures of around 74 mm Hg to excrete liquid material and 430 mm Hg to excrete material of higher viscosity similar to that of oil .”

*Quotation marks only around directly quoted information; citations included; the most important data fact is paraphrased; additional details provided by direct quote.

More Paraphrasing Examples for Reference

The following paraphrasing examples do not include citations and are therefore better used for reference when learning how to paraphrase original text. Therefore, the tips mentioned earlier in this article should be applied when paraphrasing published academic work.

Paraphrasing Checklist

  • Write the paraphrased text in your own words.
  • Always include a citation with a paraphrase—you are still using someone else’s ideas
  • When you use a direct quote, be sure to clarify the quote to show why you have included it.
  • Avoid using blocks of quoted text, especially in papers in the natural sciences. You can almost always use a paraphrase/quote combination instead.
  • Overall, focus on your study first—any extra information should be used to enhance your arguments or clarify your research.

Wordvice Resources

After paraphrasing the source text in your research paper, be sure to use a plagiarism checker to make sure there are no overt similarities in your paper. And get English proofreading and academic editing for your journal manuscript or essay editing for your admissions essay to ensure that your writing is ready for submission to journals or schools. Finally, visit our academic resources pages to get more tips beyond how to paraphrase, including common academic phrases , the best transition words in academic papers, verbs for research writing , and many more articles on how to strengthen your academic writing skills.

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paraphrase results meaning

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Save the explanation now and read when you’ve got time to spare.

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When writing an essay, you often rely on information from outside sources. It can be helpful to quote or broadly summarize these sources. But sometimes you need to explain a specific point from a source to demonstrate its meaning and connection to your own ideas. For this, you need to paraphrase.

Paraphrasing in essays refers to the practice of taking someone else's ideas or information and expressing them in one's own words. It's a way to incorporate the thoughts or findings of others into your work without directly quoting the original source. The primary purpose of paraphrasing is to present information in a way that is clear and relevant to the particular context of your essay, while still giving credit to the original author or source.

What is the Meaning of Paraphrase?

Paraphrasing allows you to explain a source's ideas and information in your own words. Take a look at the definition below:

To paraphrase means to restate or reword information from a source in order to explain, clarify, or expand on it. It's a way of presenting information in a new way without altering the original meaning.

As a noun, a paraphrase refers to the text that has been reworded or rephrased.

Paraphrasing doesn't mean "matching" the source! Paraphrasing means using your own words to explain the ideas of the source. When you explain a source's information, you can expand on it to show how it connects to your ideas.

You might think of paraphrasing as translating . It's your job to translate the key ideas of a source for the reader. Show them what it means and why it matters for your essay.

The word paraphrase derives from the Greek words para , meaning "beside, near, or issuing from" and phrazein, meaning "to tell." To paraphrase is to "tell" the reader in words that are "beside," or "near" the words of the source.

Paraphrase vs. Summary

Paraphrasing translates a specific idea or passage from a source while summarizing provides an overview of the main ideas of the entire source.

Think of a summary as a high-level overview of a source. When summarizing, focus on broadly explaining the key points of that source.

Think of paraphrasing as a focused mini-summary . Instead of summarizing the entire source, you're summarizing one or two specific ideas or passages from that source.

When to Summarize or Paraphrase

When deciding whether you should summarize or paraphrase, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I need to explain the main argument of the entire source?
  • Do I need to explain specific information or ideas from the source?

If you answered "yes" to the first question , you should summarize. Explain the gist of the source. What is the main point of it?

If you answered "yes" to the second question , you should paraphrase. Identify the passage, information, or idea you want to use in your essay. Then, explain that small piece in your own words.

Summary and paraphrasing aren't the only methods of incorporating sources! You can also use a direct quote .

A direct quote is an exact copy of a source's words.

Direct quotes are great for:

  • analyzing a source's words and language choices
  • presenting a precise definition of a concept or term
  • arguing against a specific claim made in a source
  • staying true to a source when a change of phrase would distort the meaning of that source

Direct quotes should be used sparingly. Use direct quotes only when it's necessary to show the source's exact words. When using a direct quote, be sure to also explain that quote to the reader so they can see how it fits into your ideas.

The Importance of Paraphrase

Paraphrasing is important for providing evidence , explaining your ideas, and pulling important information from your sources. Paraphrasing is a crucial aspect of good writing.

Without paraphrasing, you would have to rely primarily on summarizing. Summarizing is great for explaining a source's main ideas. However, it doesn't allow you to discuss specific information from that source. Sometimes that specific information is the most important thing you can get from a source.

The Benefits of Paraphrase

Paraphrasing has so many benefits! Here are just a few:

  • Paraphrasing helps you translate jargon and difficult language in a text.
  • Paraphrasing allows you to connect the information from a source to your own ideas.
  • Paraphrasing helps you more fully understand the information in your source. Having to translate it helps you think more deeply about it.
  • Paraphrasing helps you avoid plagiarism in essays. By rephrasing the original content in your own words, you demonstrate an understanding of the material and avoid directly copying, which can be considered plagiarism.

Examples of Paraphrase

Examples of paraphrasing can show you what to do and what not to do. See below for an example of effective paraphrasing and an example of poor paraphrasing in your essays.

Here is the original text.

The Internet started in the 1960s as a way for government researchers to share information. Computers in the '60s were large and immobile and in order to make use of information stored in any one computer, one had to either travel to the site of the computer or have magnetic computer tapes sent through the conventional postal system. 1

The following is an effective example of how to paraphrase this text for your essay.

The first computers, created in the 1960s, were too big to move. Researchers had to either travel to them or have magnetic computer tapes that stored information mailed to them.

Note how the above example translates the passage for the reader and doesn't include information that does not fit into the writer's essay. When paraphrasing, try to make the passage easier to understand . Only include information that is necessary to your essay.

The following is an in effective example of how to paraphrase that passage.

The Internet began in the 1960s for government researchers to share information with each other. Computers at that time were big and immovable, and in order to make use of information stored in a computer, researchers had to either travel to the computer site or have magnetic computer tapes sent through the postal system.

Note how the above example simply replaces and removes some words from the original text. This doesn't help the reader understand the passage better. It also includes information that is unnecessary for the essay (like the use of the computer to share information). Remember, paraphrasing isn't just replacing or removing some words. It's translating for the reader in a way that fits with the purpose of your essay.

In addition to being poor paraphrasing, this example is also plagiarism! It uses much of the original author's words verbatim. Without proper citation, this is stealing.

Paraphrase. An old computer. StudySmarter.

Paraphrase in a Sentence

To paraphrase in a sentence, read and markup your selected passage, try explaining it without looking, then revisit the passage to find ways to revise sentences. Use your understanding of the information to translate it for your reader.

Steps for Paraphrase in a Sentence

To paraphrase in a sentence, follow the 4-step process below.

1. Mark Up the Passage

Carefully read the passage you want to paraphrase. Make sure you fully understand what it means. It helps to mark the passage in ways that point out key terms, phrases, and ideas.

Beyond providing insurance coverage for a substantial, uninsured, and largely unhealthy segment of society—and thereby reducing disparities and unequal access to care among all segments of the population—there is great potential for universal healthcare models to embrace value-based care . Value-based care can be thought of as appropriate and affordable care (tackling wastes), and i ntegration of services and systems of care (i.e., hospital, primary, public health), including preventive care that considers the long-term health and economy of a nation. 2

2. Explain the Passage Without Looking

Once you have a solid understanding of the passage, try explaining it without looking at it. If someone were to ask you about this passage, how would you explain it to them? Don't worry about making this explanation perfect. This is a rough draft. You can clean it up later.

Zieff et al. suggest that providing insurance to citizens is just one of many ways to provide adequate healthcare. They put forward an integrated model of healthcare that includes preventative measures to ensure healthcare is not only covered by insurance but is affordable and manageable for all.

Focus on this question: "What did the passage mean to you?"

3. Revisit the Passage

Now that you have a rough draft of your initial interpretations, refer back to the passage. Mark any concepts or terms you felt you didn't quite capture. Make some notes to yourself on what you might change about your paraphrased version. Identify any words or phrases in the passage that you need to clarify for the reader.

Beyond providing insurance coverage for a substantial, uninsured, and largely unhealthy segment of society— and thereby reducing disparities and unequal access to care among all segments of the population—there is great potential for universal healthcare models to embrace value-based care . Value-based care can be thought of as appropriate and affordable care (tackling wastes), and integration of services and systems of care (i.e., hospital, primary, public health), including preventive care that considers the long-term health and economy of a nation .

Note how the above example focuses on areas that are missing from the writer's paraphrased version. Use markups and notes to clarify what you need to do with this information.

Paraphrase. A marked up page. StudySmarter.

4. Revise Your Sentences

Now, it's time to revisit your paraphrased version! Take the elements you were missing and revise your sentences to include them. Then, clean up any repetitive phrasing, unclear wording, or grammatical mistakes.

Zieff et al. suggest that providing insurance to citizens is just one of many ways to provide adequate and equal healthcare access . They put forward an integrated model of healthcare they call "value-based care" that includes preventative measures to ensure healthcare is not only covered by insurance but is affordable and manageable for all while still considering the long-term needs of the nation's health and economy .

Note how the writer worked key points into their explanation. This allowed them to cut out repetitive statements and focus their explanation. When revising your paraphrased sentences, focus on including what is necessary and leaving out that which is not.

Here is a finalized version:

Zieff et al. suggest that providing insurance to citizens is just one of many ways to provide adequate and equal healthcare access. They put forward an integrated model of healthcare they call "value-based care" that includes preventative measures to ensure healthcare is affordable and manageable for all while still considering the long-term needs of the nation's health and economy.

Did you notice how this example uses a small direct quote ? While the goal of paraphrasing is using your own words to explain information, that doesn't mean you can't also use one or two words from that source. If a source includes a key term that is important to your essay, use it!

Paraphrase Citations: APA & MLA

Even though you are explaining information in your own words, it still comes from a source. Therefore, it's important to give credit to that source. You can do this with citations .

Citations are lines of text that indicate where you got your information from.

Citations generally take one of two forms: narrative citation format or parenthetical citation format.

Narrative citation format indicates where you got your information from in your own sentences. For example, you might state "According to Zieff et al. in their 2020 article on universal healthcare in America...."

Parenthetical citation format indicates where you got your information from in parentheses following your paraphrased version of the source. For example, you might say "Value-based care is an integrative model of healthcare (Zieff et al., 2020).

Paraphrase. A healthcare professional dawns gloves. StudySmarter.

Citations for Paraphrasing in APA

When citing paraphrased information in APA , you should always include the name of the author and the year in which the source was published.

You do not need to include a page number when paraphrasing in APA unless you use a direct quote . For example, if you quote a term or short phrase from the source (such as "value-based care,") you should include a page number.

Narrative Citation Format in APA

When using a narrative citation format in APA, include the year of publication either in-text or in parentheses immediately after the author's name.

According to Zieff et al. in their 2020 article...

According to Zieff et al. (2020)...

If you use one or two words from the source that you incorporate as a direct quote , be sure to follow your completed sentence with a parenthetical citation that includes the page number.

Zieff et al. (2020) suggest a "value-based care" model of integrated healthcare (p. 3).

Quick Tip! Always refer to an author by their last name.

Parenthetical Citation Format in APA

When using parenthetical citation format in APA, follow this format: (Author, year, p. #)

A "value-based care" approach to healthcare integrates multiple aspects of healthcare, including preventative care (Zieff et al., 2020, p. 3).

Citations for Paraphrasing in MLA

When citing paraphrased information in MLA , always include the author and page number. If there is no page number, include a paragraph number or other identifier. Unlike APA, MLA does not require you to include the year of publication in citations.

Narrative Citation Format in MLA

When using a narrative citation format in MLA , simply state the author's name in the sentence. However, you will still need to include the page number or paragraph number in parentheses at the end of the sentence.

Zieff et al. suggest a "value-based care" model of integrated healthcare (3).

Parenthetical Citation Format in MLA

When using parenthetical citation format in MLA, follow this format: (Author Page)

A "value-based care" approach to healthcare integrates multiple aspects of healthcare, including preventative care (Zieff et al. 3).

Paraphrase - Key Takeaways

  • To Paraphrase means to restate or reword information from a source in order to explain, clarify, or expand on it.
  • Paraphrasing translates a specific idea or passage from a source while summarizing overviews the main ideas of the entire source.
  • Paraphrasing is important for providing evidence , explaining your ideas, and pulling important information from your sources.
  • When paraphrasing, it's important to give credit to your source through narrative or parenthetical citations.
  • APA format requires you to include the name of the author, the year of publication, and a page number IF you use any short direct quotes. MLA format requires you to include the name of the author and the page number whether you include direct quotes or not.

1 The Online Library Learning Center. "A Brief History of the Internet." University System of Georgia. n.d.

2 Gabriel Zieff et al.. "Universal Healthcare in the United States of America: A Healthy Debate." Medicina. 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions about Paraphrase

--> what does paraphrase mean .

Paraphrasing in essays refers to the practice of taking someone else's ideas or information and expressing them in one's own words. It's a way to incorporate the thoughts or findings of others into your work without directly quoting the original source. The primary purpose of paraphrasing is to present information in a way that is clear and relevant to the particular context of your essay, while still giving credit to the original author or source. 

--> How do you paraphrase a quote? 

To paraphrase a quote, read and markup the quote to understand it, try explaining it without looking, then revisit the quote to find ways to revise your paraphrased sentence. 

--> What is an example of paraphrasing? 

Of course! Here's an example to illustrate what paraphrasing looks like:

Original Text:  "Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and its impacts are being felt worldwide in the form of rising sea levels, more frequent extreme weather events, and changing patterns of biodiversity."

Paraphrased Version:  "Global warming represents a critical concern in today's world, with effects such as increased flooding due to higher sea levels, more regular severe weather occurrences, and shifts in wildlife behaviors and habitats."

In the paraphrased version, the central idea and message remain consistent with the original, but the phrasing and structure have been altered. 

--> Why is paraphrasing important? 

Paraphrasing is important for providing evidence, explaining your ideas, and pulling important information from your sources.  

--> What makes a good paraphrase? 

A good paraphrase pulls only the important information from a passage and explains it in your own words. 

--> When you paraphrase, do you cite? 

Yes, when paraphrasing, you should always cite your sources. Since the information comes from a source, you should include narrative or parenthetical citation to show where it comes from. 

Final Paraphrase Quiz

Paraphrase quiz - teste dein wissen.

What is paraphrasing? 

Show answer

Paraphrasing is restating or rewording information from a source in order to explain, clarify, or expand on it.

Show question

If one is providing a high-level overview of a source and its main ideas, what do they need to do? 

Why can one think of paraphrasing as a mini-summary? 

One can think of paraphrasing as a mini-summary because it's used to summarize one or two specific points from a source.

If one needs to explain specific information or ideas from a source, what do they need to do?

What are some of the benefits of paraphrasing? 

It helps to translate jargon and difficult language in a text.

What is the first step in paraphrasing?

Read the passage and mark it up

Once a writer has a solid understanding of the passage they are trying to paraphrase, what should they do? 

Try to explain the passage in their own words without looking

Once a writer has attempted a rough draft of a paraphrased passage, what should they mark when they revisit their source? 

concepts or terms they didn't quite capture

Finish this sentence: 

When revising paraphrased sentences, one should cut out any _____.

repetitive phrases

True or False:

Paraphrasing can include one or two words from the source in the form of a short direct quote. 

True! As long as the writer uses quotation marks and explains the term or phrase in their own words, it's okay to use one or two words that are necessary for explaining the passage.

What are citations ?

Citations are lines of text that indicate where you got your information from. 

What are the two types of citation formats used in both MLA and APA? 

narrative citation format

If a writer includes an author's name and year of publication in their own sentence, what type of citation format is this? 

Narrative APA

One does not need to include a page number when paraphrasing in APA  unless ____.

One does not need to include a page number when paraphrasing in APA  unless  they also incorporate a short direct quote. 

True or False: 

MLA requires the year of publication in parenthetical citations.

False. MLA does not require the year of publication in either parenthetical or narrative citations. 

If you need to explain the full arguments of source, you should:

If you need to use parts of arguments, you should:

Analyzing a source's words and language choices

Use paraphrasing to:

Help translate jargon

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Definition of 'paraphrase'

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In other languages paraphrase

  • American English : paraphrase / ˈpærəfreɪz /
  • Brazilian Portuguese : parafrasear
  • Chinese : 释义
  • European Spanish : parafrasear
  • French : paraphraser
  • German : umschreiben
  • Italian : parafrasare
  • Japanese : 別の言葉で言い換える
  • Korean : 다른 말로 바꿔서 설명하다
  • European Portuguese : parafrasear
  • Latin American Spanish : parafrasear
  • Brazilian Portuguese : paráfrase
  • Chinese : 改述
  • European Spanish : paráfrasis
  • French : paraphrase
  • German : Umschreibung
  • Italian : parafrasi
  • Japanese : 言い換え
  • Korean : 다른 말로 바꿔서 설명한 것
  • European Portuguese : paráfrase
  • Latin American Spanish : paráfrasis

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1. Introduction

2. paraphrasing phenomena classified, 3. analysis of paraphrases, 4. conclusion, acknowledgments, what is a paraphrase.

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Rahul Bhagat , Eduard Hovy; What Is a Paraphrase?. Computational Linguistics 2013; 39 (3): 463–472. doi:

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Paraphrases are sentences or phrases that convey the same meaning using different wording. Although the logical definition of paraphrases requires strict semantic equivalence, linguistics accepts a broader, approximate, equivalence—thereby allowing far more examples of “quasi-paraphrase.” But approximate equivalence is hard to define. Thus, the phenomenon of paraphrases, as understood in linguistics, is difficult to characterize. In this article, we list a set of 25 operations that generate quasi-paraphrases. We then empirically validate the scope and accuracy of this list by manually analyzing random samples of two publicly available paraphrase corpora. We provide the distribution of naturally occurring quasi-paraphrases in English text.

The school said that their buses seat 40 students each.

The school said that their buses accommodate 40 students each.

One reason why paraphrase recognition systems have been difficult to build is because paraphrases are hard to define. Although the strict interpretation of the term “paraphrase” is quite narrow because it requires exactly identical meaning, in linguistics literature paraphrases are most often characterized by an approximate equivalence of meaning across sentences or phrases. De Beaugrande and Dressler ( 1981 , page 50) define paraphrases as “approximate conceptual equivalence among outwardly different material.” Hirst ( 2003 , slide 9) defines paraphrases as “talk(ing) about the same situation in a different way.” He argues that paraphrases aren't fully synonymous: There are pragmatic differences in paraphrases, namely, difference of evaluation, connotation, viewpoint, and so forth. According to Mel'cuk ( 2012 , page 7) “An approximate synonymy of sentences is considered as sufficient for them to be produced from the same SemS.” He further adds that approximate paraphrases include implications (not in the logical sense, but in the everyday sense). Taking an extreme view, Clark ( 1992 , page 172) rejects the idea of absolute synonymy by saying “Every two forms (in language) contrast in meaning.” Overall, there is a large body of work in the linguistics literature that argues that paraphrases are not restricted to strict synonymy.

The school said that their buses cram in 40 students each.

The school is saying that their buses might accommodate 40 students each.

Note that this article focuses on defining quasi-paraphrases. It does not provide direct implementation/application results of using them. We believe, however, that this work will allow computation-oriented researchers to focus their future work more effectively on a subset of paraphrase types without concern for missing important material, and it will provide linguistics-oriented researchers with a blueprint of the overall distribution of the types of paraphrase.

Although approximate equivalence is hard to characterize, it is not a completely unstructured phenomenon. By studying various existing paraphrase theories—Mel'cuk ( 2012 ), Harris ( 1981 ), Honeck ( 1971 )—and through an analysis of paraphrases obtained from two different corpora, we have discovered that one can identify a set of 25 classes of quasi-paraphrases, with each class having its own specific way of relaxing the requirement of strict semantic equivalence. In this section, we define and describe these classes.

The classes described here categorize quasi-paraphrases from the lexical perspective. The lexical perspective defines paraphrases in terms of the kinds of lexical changes that can take place in a sentence/phrase resulting in the generation of its paraphrases.

Google bought YouTube. ⇔ Google acquired YouTube.

Chris is slim . ⇔ Chris is slender . ⇔ Chris is skinny .

Pat ate . ⇔ Pat did not starve .

Google bought YouTube. ⇔ YouTube was sold to Google.

Pat loves Chris. ⇔ Chris is loved by Pat.

Pat said, “ I like football.” ⇔ Pat said that he liked football.

Pat likes Chris, because she is smart. ⇔ Pat likes Chris, because Chris is smart.

Pat can run fast and Chris can run fast , too. ⇔ Pat can run fast and Chris can, too.

Results of the competition have been declared. ⇔ Results for the competition have been declared.

Pat showed a nice demo . ⇔ Pat's demo was nice .

I dislike rash drivers . ⇔ I dislike rash driving .

Pat teaches Chris. ⇔ Pat is Chris's teacher .

Pat teaches Chris. ⇔ Chris is Pat's student .

Pat tiled his bathroom floor. ⇔ Pat installed tiles on his bathroom floor.

The pilot took off despite the stormy weather. ⇔ The plane took off despite the stormy weather.

I dislike rash drivers . ⇔ I dislike rash motorists .

Pat is flying in this weekend . ⇔ Pat is flying in this Saturday .

I had to drive through fog today. ⇔ I had to drive through a wall of fog today.

Immigrants have used this network to send cash . ⇔ Immigrants have used this network to send stashes of cash .

American airplanes pounded the Taliban defenses. ⇔ American airforce pounded the Taliban defenses.

The police interrogated the suspects. ⇔ The police subjected the suspects to an interrogation .

The virus spread over two weeks. ⇔ Two weeks saw a spreading of the virus.

Pat loves Chris. ⇔ Chris is lovable to Pat.

Pat boasted about his work. ⇔ Pat spoke boastfully about his work.

I'll fly by the end of June. ⇔ I'll fly late June.

The finalists will play in Giants stadium. ⇔ Giants stadium will be the playground for the finalists.

Pat loved Chris. ⇔ Pat loves Chris.

Pat is flying in today. ⇔ Pat flies in today.

Google must buy YouTube. ⇔ Google bought YouTube.

The government wants to boost the economy. ⇔ The government hopes to boost the economy.

Google is in talks to buy YouTube. ⇔ Google bought YouTube.

The Marines are fighting the terrorists. ⇔ The Marines are eliminating the terrorists.

At least 23 U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq last month. ⇔ About 25 U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq last month.

Disneyland is 32 miles from here. ⇔ Disneyland is around 30 minutes from here.

We must work hard to win this election. ⇔ The Democrats must work hard to win this election.

The government declared victory in Iraq. ⇔ Bush declared victory in Iraq.

In Section 2 , we presented a list of lexical changes that define quasi-paraphrases. In this section, we seek to validate the scope and accuracy of this list. Our analysis uses two criteria:

1. Distribution : What is the distribution of each of these lexical changes in a paraphrase corpus?

2. Human judgment : If one uses each of the lexical changes, on applicable sentences, how often do each of these changes generate acceptable quasi-paraphrases?

3.1 Distribution

We used the following procedure to measure the distribution of the lexical changes:

1. We downloaded paraphrases from two publicly available data sets containing sentence-level paraphrases: the Multiple-Translations Corpus (MTC) (Huang, Graff, and Doddington 2002 ) and the Microsoft Research (MSR) paraphrase corpus (Dolan, Quirk, and Brockett 2004 ). The paraphrase pairs come with their equivalent parts manually aligned (Cohn, Callison-Burch, and Lapata 2008 ).

2. We selected 30 sentence-level paraphrase pairs from each of these corpora at random and extracted the corresponding aligned and unaligned phrases. 1 This resulted in 210 phrase pairs for the MTC corpus and 145 phrase pairs for the MSR corpus.

3. We labeled each of the phrase pairs with the appropriate lexical changes defined in Section 2 . If any phrase pair could not be labeled by a lexical change from Section 2 , we labeled it as unknown .

4. We finally calculated the distribution of each label (lexical change), over all the labels, for each corpus. Table 1 shows the percentage distribution of the lexical changes in the MTC (column 3) and MSR corpora (column 4).

Distribution and Precision of paraphrases. Distribution may not sum to 100% due to rounding.

3.2 Human Judgment

In this section, we explain the procedure we used to obtain the human judgments of the changes that define paraphrases from the lexical perspective:

1. We randomly selected two words or phrases from publicly available resources (depending on the lexical change) for each of the lexical operations from Section 2 (except external knowledge ). For example, to obtain words for synonym substitution , we used WordNet (Fellbaum 1998 ) (and selected a word, say buy ); to obtain implication rules for semantic implication , we used the DIRT resource (Lin and Pantel 2001 ); and so on.

They want to buy a house.

They want to purchase a house.

4. For the phenomenon of external knowledge , we randomly sampled a total of 10 sentence pairs from the MTC and MSR corpora, such that the pairs were paraphrases based on external knowledge.

5. We gave the sentence pairs to two annotators and asked them to annotate them as either paraphrases or non-paraphrases . For example, the annotator might be given the sentence pair (a) and (b) and she/he might annotate this pair as paraphrases .

6. We used the annotations from each of the annotators to calculate the precision percentage for each lexical change. The final precision score was calculated as the average of the precision scores obtained from the two annotations. Table 1 shows the percentage precision (column 5) of lexical changes in this test corpus.

7. We finally calculated the kappa statistic (Siegal and Castellan Jr. 1988 ) to measure the inter-annotator agreement. A kappa score of κ = 0.66 was obtained on the annotation task.

A definition of what phenomena constitute paraphrases and what do not has been a problem in the past. Whereas some people have used a very narrow interpretation of paraphrases—paraphrases must be exactly logically equivalent—others have taken broader perspectives that consider even semantic implications to be acceptable paraphrases. To the best of our knowledge, outside of specific language interpretation frameworks (like Meaning Text Theory [Mel'cuk 1996 ]), no one has tried to create a general, exhaustive list of the transformations that define paraphrases. In this article we provide such a list. We have also tried to empirically quantify the distribution and accuracy of the list. It is notable that certain types of quasi-paraphrases dominate whereas others are very rare. We also observed, however, that the dominating transformations vary based on the type of paraphrase corpus used, thus indicating the variety of behavior exhibited by the paraphrases. Based on the large variety of possible transformations that can generate paraphrases, its seems likely that the kinds of paraphrases that are deemed useful would depend on the application at hand. This might motivate the creation of application-specific lists of the kinds of allowable paraphrases and the development of automatic methods to distinguish the different kinds of paraphrases.

The authors wish to thank Jerry Hobbs and anonymous reviewers for valuable comments and feedback.

We assume that any unaligned phrase is paired with a null phrase and we discard it prior to the analysis.

The words in the new sentence were allowed to be reordered (permuted) if needed and only function words (and no content words) were allowed to be added to the new sentence.

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  • Online ISSN 1530-9312
  • Print ISSN 0891-2017

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Article • 12 min read

How to Paraphrase and Summarize Work

Summing up key ideas in your own words.

By the Mind Tools Content Team

paraphrase results meaning

Imagine you're preparing a presentation for your CEO. You asked everyone in your team to contribute, and they all had plenty to say!

But now you have a dozen reports, all in different styles, and your CEO says that she can spare only 10 minutes to read the final version. What do you do?

The solution is to paraphrase and summarize the reports, so your boss gets only the key information that she needs, in a form that she can process quickly.

In this article, we explain how to paraphrase and how to summarize, and how to apply these techniques to text and the spoken word. We also explore the differences between the two skills, and point out the pitfalls to avoid.

What Is Paraphrasing?

When you paraphrase, you use your own words to express something that was written or said by another person.

Putting it into your own words can clarify the message, make it more relevant to your audience , or give it greater impact.

You might use paraphrased material to support your own argument or viewpoint. Or, if you're putting together a report , presentation or speech , you can use paraphrasing to maintain a consistent style, and to avoid lengthy quotations from the original text or conversation.

Paraphrased material should keep its original meaning and (approximate) length, but you can use it to pick out a single point from a longer discussion.

What Is Summarizing?

In contrast, a summary is a brief overview of an entire discussion or argument. You might summarize a whole research paper or conversation in a single paragraph, for example, or with a series of bullet points, using your own words and style.

People often summarize when the original material is long, or to emphasize key facts or points. Summaries leave out detail or examples that may distract the reader from the most important information, and they simplify complex arguments, grammar and vocabulary.

Used correctly, summarizing and paraphrasing can save time, increase understanding, and give authority and credibility to your work. Both tools are useful when the precise wording of the original communication is less important than its overall meaning.

How to Paraphrase Text

To paraphrase text, follow these four steps:

1. Read and Make Notes

Carefully read the text that you want to paraphrase. Highlight, underline or note down important terms and phrases that you need to remember.

2. Find Different Terms

Find equivalent words or phrases (synonyms) to use in place of the ones that you've picked out. A dictionary, thesaurus or online search can be useful here, but take care to preserve the meaning of the original text, particularly if you're dealing with technical or scientific terms.

3. Put the Text into Your Own Words

Rewrite the original text, line by line. Simplify the grammar and vocabulary, adjust the order of the words and sentences, and replace "passive" expressions with "active" ones (for example, you could change "The new supplier was contacted by Nusrat" to "Nusrat contacted the new supplier").

Remove complex clauses, and break longer sentences into shorter ones. All of this will make your new version easier to understand .

4. Check Your Work

Check your work by comparing it to the original. Your paraphrase should be clear and simple, and written in your own words. It may be shorter, but it should include all of the necessary detail.

Paraphrasing: an Example

Despite the undoubted fact that everyone's vision of what constitutes success is different, one should spend one's time establishing and finalizing one's personal vision of it. Otherwise, how can you possibly understand what your final destination might be, or whether or not your decisions are assisting you in moving in the direction of the goals which you've set yourself?

The two kinds of statement – mission and vision – can be invaluable to your approach, aiding you, as they do, in focusing on your primary goal, and quickly identifying possibilities that you might wish to exploit and explore.

We all have different ideas about success. What's important is that you spend time defining your version of success. That way, you'll understand what you should be working toward. You'll also know if your decisions are helping you to move toward your goals.

Used as part of your personal approach to goal-setting, mission and vision statements are useful for bringing sharp focus to your most important goal, and for helping you to quickly identify which opportunities you should pursue.

How to Paraphrase Speech

In a conversation – a meeting or coaching session, for example – paraphrasing is a good way to make sure that you have correctly understood what the other person has said.

This requires two additional skills: active listening and asking the right questions .

Useful questions include:

  • If I hear you correctly, you're saying that…?
  • So you mean that…? Is that right?
  • Did I understand you when you said that…?

You can use questions like these to repeat the speaker's words back to them. For instance, if the person says, "We just don't have the funds available for these projects," you could reply: "If I understand you correctly, you're saying that our organization can't afford to pay for my team's projects?"

This may seem repetitive, but it gives the speaker the opportunity to highlight any misunderstandings, or to clarify their position.

When you're paraphrasing conversations in this way, take care not to introduce new ideas or information, and not to make judgments on what the other person has said, or to "spin" their words toward what you want to hear. Instead, simply restate their position as you understand it.

Sometimes, you may need to paraphrase a speech or a presentation. Perhaps you want to report back to your team, or write about it in a company blog, for example.

In these cases it's a good idea to make summary notes as you listen, and to work them up into a paraphrase later. (See How to Summarize Text or Speech, below.)

How to Summarize Text or Speech

Follow steps 1-5 below to summarize text. To summarize spoken material – a speech, a meeting, or a presentation, for example – start at step three.

1. Get a General Idea of the Original

First, speed read the text that you're summarizing to get a general impression of its content. Pay particular attention to the title, introduction, conclusion, and the headings and subheadings.

2. Check Your Understanding

Build your comprehension of the text by reading it again more carefully. Check that your initial interpretation of the content was correct.

3. Make Notes

Take notes on what you're reading or listening to. Use bullet points, and introduce each bullet with a key word or idea. Write down only one point or idea for each bullet.

If you're summarizing spoken material, you may not have much time on each point before the speaker moves on. If you can, obtain a meeting agenda, a copy of the presentation, or a transcript of the speech in advance, so you know what's coming.

Make sure your notes are concise, well-ordered, and include only the points that really matter.

The Cornell Note-Taking System is an effective way to organize your notes as you write them, so that you can easily identify key points and actions later. Our article, Writing Meeting Notes , also contains plenty of useful advice.

4. Write Your Summary

Bullet points or numbered lists are often an acceptable format for summaries – for example, on presentation slides, in the minutes of a meeting, or in Key Points sections like the one at the end of this article.

However, don't just use the bulleted notes that you took in step 3. They'll likely need editing or "polishing" if you want other people to understand them.

Some summaries, such as research paper abstracts, press releases, and marketing copy, require continuous prose. If this is the case, write your summary as a paragraph, turning each bullet point into a full sentence.

Aim to use only your own notes, and refer to original documents or recordings only if you really need to. This helps to ensure that you use your own words.

If you're summarizing speech, do so as soon as possible after the event, while it's still fresh in your mind.

5. Check Your Work

Your summary should be a brief but informative outline of the original. Check that you've expressed all of the most important points in your own words, and that you've left out any unnecessary detail.

Summarizing: an Example

So how do you go about identifying your strengths and weaknesses, and analyzing the opportunities and threats that flow from them? SWOT Analysis is a useful technique that helps you to do this.

What makes SWOT especially powerful is that, with a little thought, it can help you to uncover opportunities that you would not otherwise have spotted. And by understanding your weaknesses, you can manage and eliminate threats that might otherwise hurt your ability to move forward in your role.

If you look at yourself using the SWOT framework, you can start to separate yourself from your peers, and further develop the specialized talents and abilities that you need in order to advance your career and to help you achieve your personal goals.

SWOT Analysis is a technique that helps you identify strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats. Understanding and managing these factors helps you to develop the abilities you need to achieve your goals and progress in your career.

Permission and Citations

If you intend to publish or circulate your document, it's important to seek permission from the copyright holder of the material that you've paraphrased or summarized. Failure to do so can leave you open to allegations of plagiarism, or even legal action.

It's good practice to cite your sources with a footnote, or with a reference in the text to a list of sources at the end of your document. There are several standard citation styles – choose one and apply it consistently, or follow your organization's house style guidelines.

As well as acknowledging the original author, citations tell you, the reader, that you're reading paraphrased or summarized material. This enables you to check the original source if you think that someone else's words may have been misused or misinterpreted.

Some writers might use others' ideas to prop up their own, but include only what suits them, for instance. Others may have misunderstood the original arguments, or "twisted" them by adding their own material.

If you're wary, or you find problems with the work, you may prefer to seek more reliable sources of information. (See our article, How to Spot Real and Fake News , for more on this.)

Paraphrasing means rephrasing text or speech in your own words, without changing its meaning. Summarizing means cutting it down to its bare essentials. You can use both techniques to clarify and simplify complex information or ideas.

To paraphrase text:

  • Read and make notes.
  • Find different terms.
  • Put the text into your own words.
  • Check your work.

You can also use paraphrasing in a meeting or conversation, by listening carefully to what's being said and repeating it back to the speaker to check that you have understood it correctly.

To summarize text or speech:

  • Get a general idea of the original.
  • Check your understanding.
  • Make notes.
  • Write your summary.

Seek permission for any copyrighted material that you use, and cite it appropriately.

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