How to Avoid Plagiarism

Guidelines for Avoiding Paraphrasing and Summarizing Errors

Guideline VI...

Is the following statement true or false?

When you paraphrase, you need to change all of the source's words.


The statement is true.

Mixing the original phraseology of a work of literature with your own misleads the reader into believing that one of the chief achievements of the original—its phrasing—is your own.

Guideline VI: In paraphrasing or summarizing literary or non-technical works, avoid dependence on the source's wording.

Study the source material until you understand it well, and then put the source away before you start paraphrasing. When your paraphrase is complete, compare it to the original to be sure you have been faithful to its meaning but have avoided parroting its phrasing.

Here is the original text:

Susan Sontag observes, "Perhaps there are certain ages which do not need truth as much as they need a deepening of the sense of reality, a widening of the imagination" (1967, p. 50).

Here is an example of correct paraphrasing:

An original voice, even though misguided, can offer more to a generation than those voices that are tempered and "right-thinking"* (Sontag, 1967, p. 50).

*In this instance, the quotation marks used in the paraphrase are the student's and are used for emphasis, not because the words are the author's.


To paraphrase correctly, you need to change all, not just some, of the author's words into your own. Remember Guideline II: Place quotation marks around even part of a sentence (even a few words) that you reproduce.