If you are a student, blogger, or an aspiring author, you would have definitely come across the term paraphrasing quite often. But do all of us know what paraphrasing exactly means and how should one go about paraphrasing? Well, even if you don’t have enough clarity on that, this article featuring a complete guide to paraphrasing will explain in detail what is paraphrasing along with paraphrasing examples.

Besides, the guide will also shed light on a systematic approach to paraphrasing such that it does not count as an act of plagiarism. To begin with, let us delve deep into the definition of paraphrasing.

What is paraphrasing?

In simple words, paraphrasing is an act of explaining or describing someone else’s ideas in different words and synonyms. While the original context or meaning is kept the same, people paraphrase the explanation to make it seem new.

Another approach to using someone else’s work for reference is using quotation marks including exact words from the original excerpt. Paraphrasing can be understood as a better alternative to quotation marks especially when we talk about it in the context of academic writing, paraphrasing is a better approach.

But why do you think paraphrasing is considered a better alternative to quotations? This is for the simple reason that paraphrasing reflects a better understanding of the concepts as you try to explain the same in your own words. On the contrary, while using quotation marks, you are simply using the exact set of words as published by another author.

For instance, if you have to write an assignment on Microsoft PESTLE Analysis, you also need to express your understanding of various PESTLE factors and the implications of the statistics you find during your research. You cannot simply quote the statistics or others’ research as it is if you wish to avoid plagiarism and score HD grades in your assignments. Moving forward, in addition to paraphrasing definitions, it is also vital to know that while paraphrasing from other sources or another author’s work, it is essential to cite the sources correctly to avoid plagiarism. If you are still unsure of what qualifies as plagiarism and what does not, you can go through our exclusive guide on how to avoid plagiarism.

Going ahead in this blog, we will look at a systematic approach to paraphrasing relevant to different contexts or objectives of paraphrasing. To begin, let us first try to understand how you can paraphrase a quote effectively with practical examples.

How to paraphrase a quote?

Writers often use quotes from renowned personalities or highly successful individuals in their work to add greater value. There are thousands of motivation quotes, learning quotes, philosophical quotes, and so on to choose from. So, let’s say you want to use this quote from Albert Einstein in your work:

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” - Albert Einstein

Why use the exact quote in quotation marks when you can add your fresh perspective to this quote’s original context by paraphrasing? So, given below is a fine example of how you can paraphrase the above quote from Albert Einstein to express your understanding of the context.


It is highly important to have the right balance in life. As Albert Einstein quoted, life is like riding a bicycle, and to maintain the perfect balance in life, that bicycle should keep moving ahead or it will topple. Having said that, no matter how hard it gets at times, we must keep moving forward.

As you can see, with effective paraphrasing, we gave a fresh outlook to this popular quote by Albert Einstein rather than using the same set of words between quotation marks.

In fact, there can be different cases of paraphrasing a quote. Rather than quoting a person, you can also quote content from an article, journal, webpage, or book. In either case, you need to ensure that you are citing the source as per the citation style required.

Going one step further, in the subsequent paragraph, let us look at an example of how you can paraphrase a paragraph to ensure that it does not count as plagiarism. Still unsure about what counts as plagiarism and what does not? How to paraphrase a paragraph

Let’s say you need to paraphrase the following paragraph

“Men and women experience different kinds of problems related to mental health. While women exceed men in internalizing disorders such as depression and anxiety, men exhibit more externalizing disorders such as substance abuse and antisocial behavior, which are problematic for others. These differences also vary by race and social class: for example, African Americans possess better mental health and thus, a smaller gender gap in psychiatric problems.” - Handbook of the Sociology of Mental Health

Now, before we look at a great example of paraphrasing with respect to the above paragraph, let us first understand what counts as ineffective paraphrasing. With examples of both, effective paraphrasing and ineffective paraphrasing, you will be able to compare and analyze the right approach to paraphrasing.

Ineffective paraphrasing (of the above source)

Men and women face varying degrees of problems pertaining to mental health. While women experience more internalizing disorders like anxiety and depression, men experience more externalizing disorders like substance abuse or behavior that is antisocial and problematic for others. Furthermore, these differences are also different in the context of race and social class, for instance, African Americans have better mental health and the gender gap in psychiatric problems is hence smaller.

Why do you think the above paraphrasing is poor? The reasons why the above paraphrasing is ineffective are listed below.

  • The sentence structure has been kept the same and only a few words have been changed while keeping the text mostly similar to the original source.
  • The original source has not been cited and because of this, it can be considered an act of plagiarizing.

Now that we know how not to paraphrase, let us look at an example of effective paraphrasing which gives the original text a new outlook while keeping the context the same.

Effective paraphrasing (of the same source)

Mental health has become a pressing issue at the global level and hence needs to be talked about more extensively. Further, it is analyzed that mental health issues or problems may vary subject to gender differences. To explain, it is understood that males and females are likely to experience different classes of mental health issues or disorders. Firstly, speaking of mental health vulnerabilities among women, they are more exposed to internal disorders which primarily include depression and anxiety. On the contrary, men are more likely to be influenced by externalizing issues which majorly include alcoholism, drug abuse, and aggression which also puts society at risk. Moreover, the vulnerabilities and risks of mental health disorders also vary subject to variations in race or social classes. For instance, it is analyzed that African Americans are known to be at a lower risk of mental health disorders (Rosenfield & Mouzon, 2012)

In this example, you can see that the word structure has been changed entirely and the citation has been added too. Since we are talking about citation here, it makes complete sense that we also tell you the appropriate way in which you can cite a paraphrase as per different styles of citation. The same is elucidated in the next section.

How to cite a paraphrase?

In the previous section, we tried to understand through an example the importance of citing your sources when you paraphrase to avoid plagiarism. Now, let us look at the process you need to apply to cite a paraphrase.

Let us take another example of an original source for explaining the stepwise process of citing its paraphrase.

Original source: “The way organizations operate is continuously being changed by new business models, exponential systems, agile operating methods, and regulation. This transition, based on values of human experience and that in turn can lead to sustainable changes at the behavioral, cultural and organizational level is only intensified by the COVID-19. Many organizations are rapidly changing their procedures due to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 worldwide and subsequent reactions to safeguard employees.”

This excerpt is taken from the journal: Factors Affecting Virtual Employee Engagement in India During COVID-19 which is published in the names of Vijesh Chaudhary, Smrutirekha Mohanty, Poonam Malik, A, Apsara Saleth Mary, Jnaneshwar Pai Maroor, M.Z.M Nomani.

This source has been cited below in paraphrasing examples as per different citation styles.

1. APA Paraphrase Citation

Paraphrasing: In the contemporary corporate world, the dynamics of workplace motivation and employee engagement have dramatically changed. Further, it is analyzed that organizations are increasingly shifting to new business models and agile operations mechanisms in alignment with the virtues of human experiences and sustainable changes. Further, it is identified that these changes have been fast-tracked by the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic (Chaudhary et al., 2022). The new trends in the global corporate world are thriving at a rampant pace and organizations are now working on formulating employee engagement strategies that are more employee-centric than ever before to incorporate cultural and organizational transformations.

How to cite APA references: As evident in the example above, when you have to paraphrase from someone’s published work in APA style, the in-text citation is added immediately after the paraphrased part from the original source.

2. MLA Paraphrase Citation

In recent years, organizations have brought several changes to their business process, models, and operation styles. In alignment with these organizational changes, organizations are also looking forward to introducing revamped strategies to boost employee engagement and workplace motivation. It is further assessed that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has made organizations focus more on agile mechanisms, giving greater importance to human virtues and sustainable changes (Chaudhary et al. 571-575). Speaking of employee engagement, it is also understood that with organizations going increasingly remote after the outbreak of the pandemic, organizations need to formulate specific strategies to facilitate engagement in a virtual work environment.

How to cite MLA references: While citing in the MLA style, the in-text citation added at the end of the paraphrased portion includes the last name of the original author along with the page number(s) which includes the cited information.

3. Chicago Footnote Citation

The enterprise world is evolving at an unimaginable pace as corporations are now integrating the latest business trends, automation technologies, business models, and remote working cultures. Besides, it is understood that after the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses now want to look at things for a new perspective and inculcate human principles, agile methodologies, and sustainable changes to get the best out of their resources and human capital. Besides, as organizations are becoming increasingly remote and the culture of virtual workplaces is thriving, organizations now need to determine the best-fit policies for enabling high engagement and positive work experiences in a virtual environment. For that, businesses need to assess the gaps in their present engagement strategies to determine their suitability for a virtual workplace.

Vijesh Chaudhary et al., "Factors Affecting Virtual Employee Engagement In India During Covid-19", Materials Today: Proceedings 51 (2022): 571-575, doi:10.1016/j.matpr.2021.05.685.

How to cite Chicago Footnote references: As evident above, in Chicago Footnote citations, the in-text citation including the author’s name and page number comes in the footnote and not immediately after the paraphrased text.

Having seen quite a few examples of effective paraphrasing and how you can cite a paraphrase in different ways, let us now talk about some quick tips using which you can avoid plagiarism while paraphrasing. After all, plagiarism can have some far-fetched consequences and there is every reason why you should exercise caution against plagiarism.

How to avoid plagiarism while paraphrasing

Given below are some effective strategies using which you can avoid plagiarism while paraphrasing.

1. Try to understand the text

When you are paraphrasing from someone else’s text, it is always better to first read the text twice or thrice so that you can understand it in an effective way. The greater your understanding of the text the better the chance that you will be able to explain it better in your own words.

For instance, if you are paraphrasing the arguments of the Leader-Member Exchange Theory of leadership, you should first try and understand the details and intricacies of the theory. When you have a comprehensive understanding of the theory, you can then easily frame it in your own words without plagiarizing it. Of course, the original context of the theory will remain the same but you can give it an all-new perspective when you express it in your unique writing style.

2. Develop a distinguished writing style

While paraphrasing, you need to ensure that your writing style is distinguished from others. Needless to say, that is not going to happen overnight and it will take some effort to develop a unique writing style. However, if you are someone who has to write consistently for assignments, blogs, or any other form of content, it is essential that you develop a unique style to be able to write plagiarism-free content.

3. Try to create different versions

When you are paraphrasing from a part of another author’s work or statement, try and create 2-3 different restatements of the original work. Subsequently, you can then choose one version from these restatements which is the most unique of all and also explains the main context of the original work in a worthwhile way.

To cite an example, if you have to paraphrase the arguments of Maslow’s Theory of motivation, you should create 2-3 paraphrasing versions and then assess which restatement looks the most similar to the original context and yet unique in terms of the sentence structure and words.

4. Cite the sources effectively

To avoid plagiarism while paraphrasing, you need to ensure that you cite all the sources appropriately and give proper attribution to the original authors from whose work you have extracted the information. If you misquote your sources or do not include all the sources of your information/research, it can be considered source-based plagiarism.

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In alignment with the above tips for avoiding plagiarism, let us look at another example of paraphrasing which represents the ideal approach to the same.

how to paraphrase

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To conclude, paraphrasing is certainly a common and legitimate practice. However, while paraphrasing, you may also be at the risk of plagiarism which can even land you into big trouble. However, this guide has explained everything in detail. You now know everything about paraphrasing ranging from what is paraphrasing to the ways in which you can avoid plagiarism while paraphrasing. We are certain that this guide would have been of great help to you.


Can paraphrasing change the original meaning of the text?

Yes, if not done carefully, paraphrasing can inadvertently change the original meaning of the text. It's essential to understand the source material thoroughly before attempting to paraphrase to ensure the intended meaning is retained.

How can I improve my paraphrasing skills?

Improving paraphrasing skills involves practice and attention to detail. Read a variety of texts and try to rephrase the main ideas in your own words. Compare your paraphrased version with the original to identify areas for improvement and refine your paraphrasing technique over time.