Paraphrasing Tips

A Bridgewater College Writing Center Handout

 

What Is a Paraphrase?

A paraphrase is a rewording of another writer's text, explanation, argument, or narrative. It is about the same length as the original, but is substantially different in wording and sentence structure.

 

Why Paraphrase?

If your purpose is one of the following, you may wish to paraphrase a portion of a text:

 

How to Paraphrase a Text

 

Examples

From The New Century Handbook:

 

Original Text

"If you're coping with an illness or want to exchange views about a medical topic, you'll want to find your way to a newsgroup. Despite the name, these are not collections of news items. They are, in effect, virtual bulletin boards open to anyone who cares to participate. The messages generally consist of plain text" (Schwartz 28).


From Rules for Writers, 5th ed.:

Original Text

"In some respects, the increasing frequency of mountain lion encounters in California has as much to do with a growing human population as it does with rising mountain lion numbers.The scenic solitude of the western ranges is prime cougar habitat, and it is falling swiftly to the developer's spade.Meanwhile, with their ideal habitat already at its carrying capacity, mountain lions are forcing younger cats into less suitable terrain, including residential areas.Add that cougars have generally grown bolder under a lengthy ban on their being hunted, and an unsettling scenario begins to emerge" (Rychnovsky, "Clawing into Controversy," p. 40)

Paraphrase

In a recent Consumer Reports article, the author suggests finding a relevant newsgroup if you have a particular medical problem or if you want to talk with others about a medical subject. Newsgroups are online bulletin boards that are available to anyone; in spite of their name, they are not news reports. Anyone who wishes to may join in a newsgroup discussion (Schwartz 28).

 

Paraphrase

Californians are encountering mountain lions more frequently because increasing numbers of humans and a rising population of lions are competing for the same territory. Humans have moved into mountainous regions once dominated by the lions, and the wild habitat that is left cannot sustain the current lion population. Therefore, the older lions are forcing younger lions out of the wilderness and into residential areas. And because of a ban on hunting, these younger lions have become bolder---less fearful of encounters with humans.

Hult, Christine A., and Thomas N. Huckin. The New Century Handbook.Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1999.207-208.
Hacker, Diana.Rules for Writers.5th ed.Boston:Bedford/St. Martinís, 2004.398-399.

By Alice L. Trupe, updated August 22, 2005

Bridgewater College Writing Center