What Is Paraphrasing?

When you paraphrase, you take key ideas from an original source and rewrite them using your own words.

Characteristics of Paraphrasing

  • Includes all key points
  • Includes all details
  • Includes smaller details not just the bigger main idea
  • Is accurate
  • Is objective/unbiased
  • It is about the same length as the original source
  • Uses different words than the original source
  • Uses different sentence structure than the original source
  • Credits original source
  • Includes a signal phrase at the beginning to introduce the paraphrase
  • For a paraphrase that is multiple sentences long, start each sentence with an indicator that the paraphrase is continuing, such as a signal phrase: The author further explains….. (81).

When to Use Paraphrasing

  • When you want to use your own words and keep all of the details from the original source in your writing
  • Paraphrase is preferred over direct quotes in academic writing because you are using your own voice as a writer to present others’ ideas.

Practice It Icon

Test Your Understanding of Paraphrasing:

This article contains the following quotation:

“Student development of 21st-century skills is greatly needed to promote workforce preparedness and long-term success of the U.S. economy. To add to the discussion on which skills are of greatest importance for students to develop before entering the workforce, this study investigated skill demand based on direct communication from employers to potential employees via job advertisements. The four most in-demand 21st-century skills found across roughly 142,000 job advertisements were oral and written communication, collaboration, and problem solving (Rios et al. 80).”


Article: Animal Testing: Is Animal Testing Morally Justified?, Issues & Controversies, 2020

Example: From the article ” Human beings have long used animals as test subjects for a variety of purposes. Every year, tens of millions of animals are used in laboratory settings to gauge the toxicity of newly developed chemicals. If deemed safe, these chemicals find their way into a wide range of consumer goods including cosmetics, household cleaners, pesticides, shampoos, and sunscreens (“Animal Testing”).




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MLA in Minutes by Sami Lange; Vicki Brandenburg; and Leila Palis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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