Is Paraphrasing Plagiarism: Differences & Importance

If done correctly, paraphrasing is not plagiarism and can add extra value to your content. It’s important to know the dangers of paraphrasing and plagiarism, whether you’re writing an academic paper or a personal essay.

By using other people’s ideas without properly citing them, you risk putting your academic credibility at risk.

Not only that, but you could also be opening yourself up to legal consequences. Nonetheless, to paraphrase effectively, you must understand the rules guiding it.

This article contains all you need to know about paraphrasing and how to execute it effectively.

What is Paraphrasing?


Paraphrasing is describing another person’s idea or information in your own words. In other words, the original statement must be rephrased (with the source cited) without diluting the information.

This technique is common in essays and research papers and can help students pass across salient ideas within a subject matter.

When is Paraphrasing Plagiarism?

Paraphrasing can be considered plagiarism when a writer lifts an author’s work or idea without changing the wording and citing the source of information.

In more familiar terms, this is when you “copy and paste.” It is also a common form of “improper paraphrasing,” and it’s unethical. 

6 Steps to Effective Paraphrasing

To better understand the concept of paraphrasing, there are steps involved:

1. Understand the original text

Understanding the original text is the first and most important step to effective paraphrasing.

To do this, you may need to read the text repeatedly or carry out extensive research until you can easily present the text in your own words without altering its originality.

2. Put the original text aside 

After understanding the original text, you should stay away or stop looking at the original statement. This will help you rewrite the original text using new (your) words.

This step may also involve replacing certain words with synonyms and retaining the identity of unique metrics such as names, dates, and titles.

3. Compare both versions

Now that you have a paraphrased version compare it with the original text. This ensures that your version accurately captures all the information in the original statement. 

At this stage, you are expected to read both versions and make modifications where necessary.

4. Cite your sources

It is wrong to effectively paraphrase a statement without citing its source. Elements such as the source’s name, author, page numbers, and publication date are usually involved when citing sources.

There are different ways to cite sources in an essay. Common ones include APA, Chicago, and MLA. Pick the style best suits your essay, or check with your tutor.

You should also know that some statements are considered common knowledge and do not require citations. For example, we all know that there are 7 days a week – it is a universal fact. 

5. Use quotations

Using quotations when paraphrasing is a no-brainer. They represent that you are introducing someone else’s idea into your write-up and crediting them for such input. 

To quote a source, depending on the length of your text and citation style, you can format the paraphrased text as a block quote or enclose it in quotation marks. 

While quoting a text frees you from the shackles of plagiarism, you must ensure they do not oversaturate your content. Quotations are rightly deployed when:

  • You need to emphasize the author’s language.
  • Your primary goal is for the reader to focus on the writer’s language
  • You wish to support an argument or a general statement with proven evidence.
  • You must state the author’s theory, ideas, definition, or arguments.

What you are working on also is crucial in the number of paraphrases or quotations you can include. They should not be frequent in research papers.

However, if you are writing a thesis on art or humanitarian topics, there is a need to paraphrase more. Maintaining a 5-10% saturation is one way to stay safe regardless of what you are writing about.

6. Use a plagiarism checker

Sometimes, plagiarism occurs, and it may not be intentional.  This is why you need a plagiarism checker on your phone or PC. 

Plagiarism checkers are designed to compare your paper with already published content. Some even provide grammatical tips that will improve your write-up.

Hence, before you submit any write-up, run it through reputable checkers like Grammarly, and Copyscape, to name a few. These checkers usually come with free and paid versions.

There are conditions plagiarism checkers must satisfy before you download them. These features include:

  • The degree of user-friendliness
  • Size of its database of already published material 
  • Pricing plans
  • The average number of scans per day
  • Inbuilt extensions 
  • Quality of report
  • Ability to crawl content in various file formats

Grammarly and Copyscape stand strong in terms of these features – please, stick with any one of the two.

Why Do You Need to Paraphrase?

Rewriting someone else’s statements in your own words and citing the source adds more credibility to your paper. It also shows that you have done a lot of research before submitting the paper. 

The process protects you from copyright infringement and gives you the confidence to defend your work when summoned.


Can you avoid plagiarism by paraphrasing?

Yes, paraphrasing is one way to avoid plagiarism. All you need to do is rephrase the original statement using your words and credit the author of the idea.

Are paraphrasing tools cheating?

Paraphrasing tools are not cheating tools and are completely illegal. However, you may need to readjust their end products to get the best result.

Can you get in trouble for paraphrasing?

Yes, you can if you paraphrase wrongly. When citing in a scholarly article, ensure it is done as a professional courtesy to avoid copyright issues.

What are the dangers of paraphrasing?

The most common danger of paraphrasing is accidental plagiarism. However, with a checker like Grammarly or Copyscape, you can easily correct any plagiarism in your paper.

Is paraphrasing copyrighted?

Copyright laws accept paraphrasing as long as your edition of the statement is not substantially similar to the original author’s statement.

Final Thought

One of the deadliest poisons in writing is plagiarism or poor paraphrasing. It is a show of laziness and can bring out serious legal issues. 

The six steps in this article are designed to help you understand the best paraphrasing practices.

However, if you are more interested in knowing more about plagiarism and grammar checkers, see the best grammar checkers you need to write like a pro.

I hope you found this article helpful. Thanks for reading.