Paraphrasing – How to Paraphrase with Clarity & Concision

Master the Art of Paraphrasing: Explore the role of paraphrasing in academic and professional writing, its significance, the ethical imperatives behind it, and the skills required to paraphrase authentically. This guide demystifies the process of paraphrasing sources, emphasizing the importance of originality and the transformative power of effective paraphrasing.

The image provides this quote: True paraphrasing is seeing the idea from another's perspective and then translating it with your voice.

What Is a Paraphrase?

Paraphrase refers to the act of rephrasing a specific part of someone’s spoken or written words, especially in a way that might be shorter or simpler, while ensuring the original meaning remains intact.

Paraphrase involves more than just changing individual words with synonyms, altering sentence structure, or reordering sentences. It requires the writer to grasp, interpret, and then present the information or narrative in their own words, writing style, and voice.

  • Unlike quoting, which involves reproducing the exact words from a source within quotation marks to retain the original phrasing and context, paraphrasing transforms the original text into a new rendition, capturing its essence without copying its form.
  • Unlike summarizing, which involves distilling the essence of an entire text into a condensed version, paraphrasing focuses on restating a particular segment in detail.

In essence, paraphrasing is a skill that goes beyond mere rewording. It demands comprehension, judgment, and the ability to recast information in a manner that adds value to the narrative while preserving the integrity of the original source.

In academic and professional writing, writers are expected to indicate when they are paraphrasing, typically achieved by providing citations. Depending on the audience or context, there are various citation styles to choose from, including:

Related Concepts: Authority & Credibility in Writing & Speech); Concision; Evidence; Scholarship as a Conversation

Examples of a Paraphrased Passages

Sample Quote

Gregory and Milner (2017) found that, “Women with dependent children are most likely to take up measures such as part-time working and other reduced working-hour arrangements, and school term-time working (where it is available, mostly in the public sector) is almost exclusively female. A number of barriers appear to limit men’s take-up of such measures: the organization of the workplace (including perceptions of their entitlement, that is, perceptions that men’s claims to family responsibilities are valid), the business environment and the domestic organization of labor in employees’ homes (including the centrality of career for the father and mother and their degree of commitment to gendered parenting, both closely class-related)” (p. 4).

Sample Paraphrase

Research conducted by Gregory and Milner (2017) reveals that women, particularly those with dependent children, are more inclined than men to adopt part-time roles and work schedules. Gregory and Milner attribute this disparity to workplace perceptions where men’s roles as primary providers influence their work choices. Moreover, at home, ingrained perspectives on gender-specific parenting and socio-economic factors further mold expectations concerning the division of household tasks between mothers and fathers (Gregory & Milner, 2023).

Sample Quote

In his book, Nuclear Weapons and International Law in the Post Cold War World, Moxley (2000) argues, “Nuclear weapons are covered by international law.   Such law contains many rules. It contains a rule of distinction. Also a rule of proportionality.  Rules of international law also include the rule of necessity. Any use of nuclear weapons must comply with such rules.  Under these rules, such as the rule of necessity, international law prohibits and renders unlawful the use of weapons whose effects cannot be controlled.  Nuclear weapons have many effects. Nuclear weapons effects of radioactive fallout cannot be controlled, nor can nuclear winter effects. Lack of controllability also extends to actual responses by a target of an initial attack, including targets’ possible escalation. Effects associated or connected or related with escalation cannot be controlled” (Moxley 2000).

Sample Paraphrase

In his book, Nuclear Weapons and International Law in the Post Cold War World, Moxley (2000) argues that nuclear weapons are covered by international law’s rules of distinction, proportionality, and necessity.  Such rules preclude the use of weapons whose effects are uncontrollable. Radioactive fallout, nuclear winter, and potential escalation effects of nuclear weapons are uncontrollable.  Nuclear weapons therefore cannot lawfully be used under international law.


Why Does Paraphrasing Matter?

Paraphrasing enables writers to introduce the ideas of others into their writing without taking all of the space that quoting entails. By paraphrasing authorities on a topic, writers advance their authority. By articulating their ideas in juxtaposition to others, writers can distinguish their ideas, observations, and insights from the works of others.

What is an Effective Paraphrase?

An effective paraphrase rephrases the essence of a source’s idea using original wording while retaining the source’s intended meaning, and it is always accompanied by a proper citation to avoid plagiarism.

Why do Writers Paraphrase?

  1. To Avoid Plagiarism:
    • One primary reason for paraphrasing is to prevent plagiarism. By rephrasing content in their own words, writers can showcase their understanding of the material while still giving due credit to the original source through proper citation. This practice upholds both ethical and academic standards.
  2. To Simplify and Clarify:
    • Some original texts contain complex or dense information. Paraphrasing can distill these intricate concepts into clearer, more accessible language. This not only ensures that the writer has grasped the essence of the source but also makes the information more digestible for the audience.
  3. To Emphasize Key Points:
    • Direct quotes might have supplementary or non-essential details. By paraphrasing, writers can zoom in on the most pertinent aspects of a source, ensuring their narrative stays concise and relevant to their main argumentn.
  4. To Align with Audience Understanding:
    • Different audiences have varied levels of familiarity with a topic. Writers may paraphrase to tailor the content to their target audience, ensuring the information is neither too elementary nor too advanced.
  5. To Integrate Multiple Sources:
    • Sometimes, a single point or argument may be supported by various sources. Paraphrasing allows writers to cohesively combine insights from multiple texts, creating a synthesized perspective.
  6. To Enhance Flow and Cohesiveness:
    • Direct quotations can disrupt the natural flow of a piece. Paraphrasing, on the other hand, allows writers to integrate source material seamlessly into their work, ensuring a smooth and coherent narrative.
  7. To Reflect on Source Material:
    • The act of paraphrasing requires a deep engagement with the source text. As writers rephrase, they’re also reflecting on the material, potentially leading to new insights or interpretations that can enrich their work.

What is the Difference between Paraphrasing and Summarizing?

  1. Paraphrase involves rephrasing a specific passage from the original text, maintaining its meaning but altering its wording. In contrast, a summary is a concise representation of a text’s main ideas, capturing its essence without detailing every aspect.
  2. Summaries offer a shortened overview of broader content while paraphrases provide an alternate expression of specific parts of that content.

Does APA, MLA, or Chicago Require a Page Reference Number for Paraphrases or Summaries?

In citation styles like APA, MLA, and Chicago, page numbers for paraphrases and summaries are encouraged but not always mandatory. While it is not an absolute requirement, providing page numbers helps readers locate the specific part of the source you referenced. This practice enhances the accuracy and transparency of your writing.

However, if you are paraphrasing or summarizing an entire work or your reference spans multiple pages, you can omit the page number.

How Can I Use an AI Tool Like ChatGPT to Facilitate Paraphrasing?

Using multiple AI-generated paraphrases for different sections of a text can lead to a disjointed writing style. After incorporating AI suggestions, read the entire passage or document aloud. This can help you identify inconsistencies in tone or style. Adjust as needed to ensure your text has a smooth flow and doesn’t feel like a patchwork of disparate pieces.

To make the most out of ChatGPT (or similar AI platforms) for paraphrasing:

  1. Identify the Source Material:
    • Begin with the text you wish to paraphrase. Ensure you understand its primary message and context before proceeding.
  2. Input Text to ChatGPT:
    • Input specific sentences or passages into the AI that you find challenging to rephrase.
  3. Analyze AI Suggestions:
    • The AI will generate several paraphrased alternatives. Examine these outputs and select the version that maintains the original meaning while presenting it in a fresh and unique manner.
  4. Preserve Contextual Integrity:
    • While AI can produce grammatically accurate renditions, always ensure the paraphrased content retains the nuance and context of the original text.
  5. Fact-Checking:
    • If the original text contains data or specific factual information, cross-check the AI-generated paraphrase to ensure no factual distortions have occurred.
  6. Manual Touch:
    • Add your own adjustments to the AI’s suggestions. This helps in integrating your style and ensures that the paraphrased text isn’t overly reliant on machine-generated outputs.
  7. Maintain Cohesiveness:
    • Ensure your text flows naturally and doesn’t feel disjointed. Read aloud to identify any inconsistencies in tone or style, adjusting as necessary.
  8. Seek Human Feedback:
    • After using AI for paraphrasing, a human review can provide insights into clarity, fidelity to the source, and overall effectiveness.
  9. Iterate as Needed:
    • With feedback in hand, you may return to ChatGPT for further rephrasing suggestions or make manual edits yourself.

Leveraging AI tools for paraphrasing offers the advantage of varied rephrasing options, nuanced interpretations, and efficiency. Yet, while AI can assist, it’s your unique understanding of your purpose as an author that’s essential in seamlessly integrating and synthesizing secondary sources. Only through your lens can the content truly resonate and maintain its intended authenticity.

How to Paraphrase with Clarity & Concision

  1. Deep Comprehension:
    • Start by reading the source material thoroughly, ensuring you grasp its core message and nuances.
  2. Initial Paraphrasing:
    • Without referring back to the original content, restate its main idea(s) using your unique expression and vocabulary.
  3. Comparison Check:
    • Position your paraphrased content side-by-side with the original. Analyze both for fidelity to the source’s intent and ensure no verbatim copying has occurred.
  4. Accuracy Assessment:
  5. Originality Scan:
    • In academic and professional writing, writers are expected to use quotation marks when they introduce two or three consecutive words from another source into their prose without attributing the source. Thus, when rereading your work you need to ensure you’ve genuinely transformed the content. The words and sentence structures should be distinctly yours, capturing the essence of the source without directly replicating its phrasing. This practice ensures that you give appropriate credit where due and maintain the integrity of your work.
  6. Integrity Verification:
    • Ensure you haven’t incorporated extraneous details or opinions alien to the original text. Re-read the original source to ensure you’ve quoted where necessary.
  7. Seek Feedback:
  8. Reiterate as Needed:
    • Sometimes it takes multiple drafts to effective paraphrase a text, event, or idea. Paraphrasing may require multiple revisions. Don’t hesitate to refine and rewrite until you’re confident you have captured the essence of the original source and used it in a way that supports your purpose for writing.


B. Obama. (2010, May 14). Remarks on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico [Address]. The White House, Washington, D.C.

Read More: