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Paraphrase like a Pro

Topic: Paraphrase like a Pro
Activity Type: Writing
Activity Level: Advanced
Aim of the Activity: By the end of this tutorial, you would be able to learn what paraphrasing is and how you can do it in an effective manner.

What is Paraphrasing?

Pursuit of higher studies requires a greater amount of reading. Not only the amount of reading required is voracious in nature, but the academic text itself doesn’t happen to be that ‘interesting’. Thus, much of the difficulty in reading and comprehension of a given text lies not in reading but in its ‘recall’. And what exactly do I mean by ‘recall’? Good question!

Paraphrasing means writing by virtue of recalling. ‘Recall’ in the context of academic learning context means reproduction of the material in writing. This reproduction or recall is required when you are doing your assignments. Since you can’t recall a text, source, author, book etc. as it is, therefore you have to paraphrase or summarize it in your own words. This means that you can’t use ‘Direct Quotes’ all of time. This leaves us with usage of ‘Indirect Quotes’, which requires a lot of paraphrasing.

Paraphrasing V.S Using Direct Quotes

Convincing writing is a balance mix and match of both i.e. direct quotes as well as indirect quotes or paraphrasing of source(s). This is so because:

Direct Quotes: Its usage provides a look of authenticity, authority and exactness to the text in which it is being used. Definitely use quotes if the quoted statement was made by a well-known person, the original wording is unique or striking, or the statement or fact being quoted is fairly controversial or startling.

It’s best to avoid using too many quotations or it may give the impression you haven't any ideas of your own on the subject. It is appropriate to use quotations to enhance your ideas, rather than replace them.

Indirect Quotes: Its usage conveys the feeling that the author has an in-depth and succulent understanding of and command on the text and that he/she has been able to convey it in a manner that is comprehensive as well as precise.

Paraphrasing may seem like lots of sweat and hard work, but it’s worth it- Trust Me! Paraphrasing really shows that you have read and that you have read voraciously, and must importantly you have understood the gist of the text. This is so because instead of typing in the exact wording of the original source as you do for quotations, paraphrasing requires you to absorb the information given in a source, then explain it to your reader in your own language what the source had to say. Paraphrasing requires a deeper comprehension, establishes that you are a careful and intelligent reader, and thus provide credibility to your own text.

This type of practice is sure to earn you more marks and credits with your supervisor and instructor.

Paraphrasing also allows you to quote multiple sources in a neat and comprehensive manner, thus helping you present a broader and all-inclusive overview of the literature, source(s) and text(s) relevant to your study.

While putting what you have learnt in words, you would discover that you have to paraphrase the text(s) in question in a manner that is supposed to be:

  • Contextual (the quoted text should be relevant to your assignment)

  • Comprehensive (None of the critical information has been left out)

  • Concise (Express the original text ideally in much fewer words)

  • Correct (Doesn’t distort the meaning of the original statement)

Paraphrasing V.S Summarizing:

Although both paraphrases and summaries are restatements of source material, a paraphrase focuses on a specific passage and rewords it, while a summary gives an overview of the general ideas of a work or a passage. A paraphrase must include all the same information as the original source material and is not necessarily shorter than the original wording. On the other hand, a summary avoids specific details or examples, and should be more concise than the original source material.



How to Paraphrase

Do It Like Ben - Paraphrasing Technique:

Who is Ben? His full name is Benjamin Franklin and he is one of the most prolific political architects, printer, author and researcher. He was quite right when he said:

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."

- Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin apparently knew a lot about writing because he used to practice writing a lot and he was one of the pioneers in writing. He was not a born writer, he merely worked hard. He studied the original source or text (the Spectator). He didn’t stop there! He actually tried to reproduce its key themes from memory, which means that while rewriting, he didn’t look at the original text at all. In order to avoid using the original’s exact words, he used his own words. Then he compared his work to the original. Where he made mistakes, omissions, he fixed them. The moral of the lesson is thus that every writing technique is an exercise. It requires time, effort and patience on your part.

This doesn’t end here; Ben also found that through this technique sometimes he'd even improved the original ideas. Just like Ben, you too would be able to generate a unique perspective and new ideas from your own assignment in the context of your research and writing.

Benjamin Franklin: A printer whose success as an author led him to take up politics; he helped draw up the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution; he played a major role in the American Revolution and negotiated French support for the colonists; as a scientist he is remembered particularly for his research in electricity (1706-1790).


Here is an example of how a student has ineffectively ‘cut and paste’ a series of random quotes in his text, without ever leading into them or explaining how they tie back to his focus. See if you can do a better job with it.

Original Passage:

Smoking should be banned from restaurants. "The regulation is long overdue" (Jones 12)."We need to ban smoking to help prevent diseases such as cancer, asthma, and bronchitis" (Smith 45). According to one restaurant customer: "I find someone smoking next to me really destroys my meal. I can't taste it anymore" (qtd. in Smith 45). "Too many restaurant owners ignore how dangerous second hand smoke is.



Revised Passage:

Due to the hazards of smoking, it should be banned from public places like restaurants because even second hand smoke is dangerous to health, and the restaurant owners are blatantly ignoring this risk. According to Smith: "We need to ban smoking to help prevent diseases such as cancer, asthma, and bronchitis"(p.45). While writers like Jones are of view that it’s high time that such a regulation has been implemented. Smith Smoking should be banned from restaurants. Smoking is not just a health risk but it is a social menace as well. Smith has quoted how one restaurant customer: "I find someone
smoking next to me really destroys my meal. I can't taste it anymore" (qtd. in Smith 45).

"Too many restaurant owners ignore how dangerous second hand smoke is.

The Dos and Don’ts of Paraphrasing:

While paraphrasing you have to keep the following things in mind:

1. Avoid excessive cutting and pasting of direct quotes.

2. Transitions from direct quotes speech to indirect should be smooth and not abrupt as the passage given above exhibits.

3. Your wordings must convey the same idea to your reader that the original language would have. Don’t take undue advantage or leverage with the original text.

4. Use ‘Transitional Words’ such as ‘although’, ‘however’, ‘also’, ‘additionally’, ‘for example’, ‘for instance’ etc. to transform direct quotes into paraphrased sentences. Using transitions before and after you insert material from a source will clarify for your reader why you've included that particular material and how it relates to your focus.


I hope that after going through the tutorial, you have now come to know the following:

  • What is paraphsarsing?

  • How instead of using direct quotes, you can parapharse.

  • How paraphrsing is different from summerizing.

If you are not able to answer the above, please return to the tutorial.


Since my aim at this stage is to address writing skills, hence I haven’t gone into the grammatical aspects of ‘Direct & Indirect’. I am sure you already must have done this to death in your school days. If you want to briefly brush up your ‘Direct & Indirect’, you can do so here:


Further reading for Paraphrasing

1. Paraphrase: Write it in Your Own Words


2. Paraphrase


3. Guide to Paraphrasing


4. Quoting and Paraphrasing


Authorship Details
Ambreen Ishrat.

Links retrieved by
Imrana Raza and Melaine D’Cruze

Last Updated on Friday, 24 April 2009