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Turnitin Tips for Students


Understand Similarity Scores and how to use them to ensure you've cited appropriately and not plagiarized.


  • Use your own words and paraphrase where you can.
  • If you copy information from another source, it must be properly cited and referenced using APA @ Conestoga formatting. See Conestoga's APA Website for guidance.
  • Do not copy information and change every other word (i.e. do not use software that changes words for you). It is better to copy the entire sentence or paragraph in quotation marks (inverted commas) and properly cite and reference the information.
    • Your professor uses Turnitin similarity scores to determine whether students have properly cited and referenced their sources.
    • Be sure you understand the assignment expectations. If your professor is asking you to put things into your own words, be sure to paraphrase. But remember…
  • You must cite and reference information you paraphrase.

What is a Turnitin Similarity Score?

  • Turnitin compares your paper to millions of other student papers, websites, and online sources, and then generates a Similarity Report.
  • The Similarity Report shows students where their work matches other work (i.e. like the sources mentioned above).
  • If you notice that some of your assignment matches another source, you must be sure those portions are properly paraphrased (if appropriate), cited, and referenced.
  • Remember, the similarity score does not necessarily mean that that portion of your paper is plagiarized. If your work is properly paraphrased, cited, and referenced, your work is not plagiarized.
  • Remember, there exists no magic number for similarity scores!

Consider These Examples from a Turnitin Similarity Score:

Example 1.

Screen showing Turnitin Similarity Score of 36% for an assignment. Text bubble next to the 36% reads: "This is the similarity score. This means 36% of your assignment is similar to another source or assignment. This DOES NOT necessarily mean 36% is plagiarized." Some sections of the assignment are highlighted in peach, others in purple. Text bubble reads: "The different coloured portions show you what source your work matches. Notice the peach coloured portion has a citation after it, so it's properly done. The purple portion, however, does not have a citation, and only the words "often" and "how humans speak" have been changed. This is not OK. You must paraphrase the information and provide a citation."

Example 2.

Screen showing a paragraph of the assignment highlighted in purple. Text bubble reads: "Notice the entire paragraph has been taken from a legitimate source and is cited properly. However, the student did not use quotations, nor did they paraphrase the information. In this scenario, simply adding questions is not good practice, and the student needs to paraphrase the information."

For Help With Citing & Referencing, visit Conestoga’s APA Website.