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Improve Your Understanding: How to Paraphrase Articles

Updated on April 8, 2024StudentsWriting Tips

Most sources for academic writing are articles: news articles, journal articles, magazine and blog articles, and more. To use information from articles in your own writing, it’s helpful to know how to paraphrase an article effectively.

Paraphrasing, or rewriting information in your own words, is an essential tool in a writer’s toolbox. It comes in handy when you want to demonstrate understanding, transform dense text into plain language, adjust the tone, or build on another person’s work.

In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about paraphrasing an article, including the best techniques and step-by-step instructions on how to do it. It can be difficult to reword articles if you’re not used to paraphrasing, so this guide will help you get started.

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How to paraphrase an article

A paraphrase is a restatement of someone else’s ideas with new wording. You basically take what another person wrote or said, and then rephrase it in your own words. As a writing technique, paraphrasing allows you to build on what an author wrote to draw your own conclusions or extend their train of thought.

Paraphrasing is used as an alternative to direct quotes, which copy another person’s words exactly without changing anything. The best approach is to combine paraphrasing and quotations so your content flows naturally.

Paraphrasing does not require quotation marks because it uses new wording. Quotation marks are used to set off direct quotes, so the reader knows that particular passage was written by someone else.

The important thing to remember when paraphrasing an article is that paraphrases still need citations (as do quotations).

Article paraphrasing techniques

Rewriting articles in your own words is not as easy as it sounds. Take advantage of some of these tried-and-true strategies from our guide on paraphrasing to reword articles:

  • Synonyms: Replace words with different words that mean the same thing.
  • Sentence structure: Rearrange the order of clauses and phrases or use new subjects and verbs.
  • Tone: Adjust the tone for a different audience or to make the tone more straightforward.
  • Sentence structure: Combine multiple smaller sentences into one, or break up a large sentence into two or three.
  • Change the structure: Turn prose into bulleted lists, or create headers to make the content scannable and easier to understand.

If you’re struggling to differentiate your paraphrasing from the original, you can always get assistance from AI. Use Grammarly’s free paraphrasing tool to have generative AI provide paraphrasing options.

Paraphrasing an article example

Original article

Taken from “Learning academic vocabulary with digital flashcards…” by Zahra Zarrati et al.

This study systematically evaluates the comparative efficacy of digital flashcards on mobile and computer platforms versus traditional paper-based flashcards in augmenting academic vocabulary knowledge development among Iranian undergraduate university students. […]

The results demonstrated statistically significant learning gains in vocabulary knowledge across all groups, with the smartphone group showing the most pronounced improvements. The performance of this group notably surpassed that of the laptop group and the control group, underscoring the superior efficacy of mobile devices in facilitating academic vocabulary learning.

These findings illuminate the potential of mobile-assisted language learning tools in academic settings and suggest a differential impact of device type on vocabulary acquisition. The broader implications of these outcomes for the design and implementation of technology-enhanced language learning strategies are discussed.

Article Paraphrasing

A recent study of Iranian college students tested which kind of flashcards improved vocabulary most: smartphones, laptops, or paper cards. While all forms of flashcards were proven to help in learning vocabulary, the winner was undoubtedly smartphone flashcards. The advantage of mobile devices in learning with flashcards outperformed other digital flashcards such as on laptops, as well as the control group of paper flashcards.

The results of this study demonstrate the value of mobile devices as a learning tool and suggest we use smartphones more often in education, at least where language learning is concerned.

What are the benefits to paraphrasing an article?

Paraphrasing can simplify complex writing.

Perhaps your source material is particularly dense or written for subject matter experts. Paraphrasing an article can make the information easier for a wider audience to understand by translating complex concepts into plain language.

It allows you to highlight the most relevant aspects of your source material.

One advantage of paraphrasing is that you can choose which information to use and which to leave behind. That means you only need to mention what’s relevant to your topic. For example, let’s say you’re writing a paper on solar panels and want to reference an article about general sustainable energy. You only need to paraphrase the parts of the article about solar panels, instead of including irrelevant information.

You can improve the word choice or tone.

Paraphrasing gives you the opportunity to modernize content and make information more understandable to a new or different audience. By changing the wording or adjusting the tone, you might illuminate ideas that otherwise would be lost to outdated language. The wording in the original source isn’t always perfect. Sometimes the terminology is different from what you’re writing, or sometimes the language is outdated, even offensive. Other times, the original phrasing may just be plain awkward. In these cases, it’s better to rewrite the article passage in your own words, according to your own writing style.

It strengthens your vocabulary and writing skills.

Paraphrasing is a valuable skill to develop as a writer and thinker. Rewriting information in your own words can help you understand the source material on a deeper level. Research even shows that doing so will help you remember it. Paraphrasing also helps you flex your vocabulary because it requires finding synonyms and new ways of phrasing things.

Citations for paraphrasing an article

Most paraphrasing and quoting of an article use parenthetical citations, which place the author’s surname in parentheses after the passage, along with the year of publication or page number. Place the parenthetical citation after your paraphrase, but put it in front of the ending punctuation.

The formatting of the parenthetical citation, as well as what information to put in it, depends on whether you’re using APA, MLA, or Chicago styles. Each style has their own rules and guidelines for proper citations, so double-check Grammarly’s guides to make sure you’re writing your citations correctly.

In addition to the in-text citation, you also need to write a full citation for each source and place them in the bibliography at the end. Similar to parenthetical citations, the formatting for a full citation depends on whether you’re using APA, MLA, or Chicago styles.

Citations can be confusing, especially if you have to switch between styles for different assignments. To save time, you can use Grammarly’s free citation generator to help create citations for you.

We even have citation generators, customized for APA or MLA formats, specifically for articles:

5 steps for how to paraphrase an article

1 Read the source article thoroughly.

The first step in rewriting an article is to choose which passages you want to paraphrase. Look closely for points that support the topic you’re writing your own paper about. Remember to only include relevant information.

2 Try rewriting the article by memory.

One helpful strategy for paraphrasing an article is rewriting the passage from memory. Rather than looking at the original, rewriting it from memory forces you to come up with new ways to say the same message.

Try doing it without notes the first time so your mind has to fill in the blanks that you’re missing. You can then go back to your notes to make sure that all of your information is accurate and to add anything that you forgot.

3 Check that your article rewording is different enough.

After writing a rough draft of your article paraphrase, review the original source to check that you changed enough. You want to avoid what’s called “patchwriting,” where the paraphrase is too close to the original and the reader might recognize “patches” of it. This is also a good opportunity to verify that you got all the information correct.

4 Revise your content.

Be sure to revise your article paraphrasing to make sure it’s clear and consistent, and avoids plagiarism. The easiest way to ensure that your work is original is to use Grammarly’s free plagiarism checker. If the rewording of your article can pass a plagiarism test, it’s good to move forward. If not, go back to the paraphrasing strategies described above and revise it even more.

5 Add the citations.

Make sure you’re using the correct citation format for your style, whether it’s APA, MLA, or Chicago. With article paraphrasing, most often you will use a parenthetical citation after the passage.

Paraphrasing an Article FAQs

Is it plagiarism to paraphrase articles?

If you paraphrase articles before putting them in your own writing, that’s a good first step to avoid plagiarism—but it’s not enough. You need to be sure to paraphrase articles and add a proper citation.

When should you reword articles instead of quoting them?

If the article passage already has the perfect wording, a direct quote would work better than a paraphrase. However, if the original wording could benefit from an update because the language is outdated or the terminology is different from the rest of your paper, paraphrasing is a better option.

Where should I provide citations when paraphrasing an article?

If you’re using a parenthetical citation, place it at the end of the paraphrased passage but before the ending punctuation, such as a period or comma. You can use more than one citation in the same sentence, as long as they’re correctly inserted after their related section.

Should I paraphrase an entire article or just the relevant parts I plan to use?

You only need to paraphrase relevant information. Omit parts of the article that aren’t related to your paper.

What percentage of the paraphrased article should be in my own original writing?

There is no exact percentage. You should aim for changing the sentence structure and as many words as possible, while retaining the original meaning. Even though you may repeat words that are in the original content, the sentence structure and language should be markedly different and reflect your writing voice.

Where should I provide citations when paraphrasing an article?

When paraphrasing an article, you need to provide in-line citations and in your bibliography or reference list. Refer to APA, MLA, and Chicago style guidelines to determine how to cite your source.

Can I edit quotations from the original article in my paraphrasing?

Direct quotations should not be edited, but you can use ellipses to omit irrelevant information. If the quote includes a misspelling, include it as is but add [sic] in brackets. If words are missing from the direct quote that render it unclear, you can add the words, such as a subject or verb, within the quotation but place them in brackets to denote that they were added for clarity.

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