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How to Paraphrase

​​Paraphrasing means keeping the ideas or information from the original, but using your own words and your own sentence structure.

To write an effective paraphrase

  • include the main and supporting ideas of the source material,
  • do not add any ideas or facts that are not in the original, and
  • use clear language.

A paraphrase may be longer, shorter, or the same length as the original.

Steps for Writing a Paraphrase

1.    Read and understand the original source.

It is important to understand the content of the original source. Take the time to look up unfamiliar words.

2.    Underline or highlight the most important pieces of information.

The most important pieces of information are the key ideas or the main points of the original source.

3.    Rewrite the idea using your own words and your own sentence structure.

Rewrite the ideas without looking at the original source. Use words that are part of your vocabulary and change the sentence structure. Change the order of the ideas from the original.

4.    Check your work against the original source.

  • Does your work use more than three of the same words in the same order?
    If it does, rewrite or put the words in quotation marks. 
  • Is the meaning the same?
  • Have you added or forgotten any ideas? 

Note: Some words cannot be paraphrased: technical words, names, and compound nouns with specific meanings.


5.    Cite the source according to the style used in your program.

For style guide information, refer to the Writing Service's resources, drop in to the Learning Commons, or make an appointment with a Writing Consultant in the Writing Service, Learning Commons.

Example: Changing a Quotation to a Paraphrase


"The nicotine in the chewing gum is released at variable rates depending on the intensity and duration of chewing."


The force and length of the gum chewing determines how much of the nicotine is released.

Notice that 

  • ​both the order of the ideas and the word choice is changed from the quotation to the paraphrase.
  • the paraphrase keeps the ideas from the original source.

For more information about paraphrasing, go to APA @ Conestoga.​