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What is paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing is the use of ideas or opinions of another author in your writing to support your arguments. This must be written in your own words, but still have the same meaning.  You need to be extremely carefully not to use a similar sentence structure or the same vocabulary that the original author uses. It is not a quotation (see next blog ‘How to use quotations in writing,’ February 2019).

Why do we use it? Why is it important?

There are a couple of reasons for paraphrasing. The first is to show you understand the materials or articles related to the topic. Secondly, it is not enough just to put down your own ideas. In academic writing, your ideas must be supported by experts. Thirdly, it is often better than using quotations. Lastly, just copying is plagiarism and this is like stealing someone’s work. It can have some very bad consequences.

Paraphrasing – The do and don’ts

Original sentence

  • ‘Melbourne is the capital of Victoria, and home to close to 4 million people’ (Only Melbourne, n.d, Para 3).
  • ‘It is acknowledged as the country's most important financial centre’ (Only Melbourne, n.d, Para 7).

A bad paraphrase:

  • Has the same words or just a few differences
  • Has a similar sentence structure
  • Is copied
  • Is much shorter than the original

For example:

A good paraphrase should:

  • Not change the meaning
  • Vary vocabulary or word form
  • Vary sentence structure
  • Not be a summary
  • Be as long or longer than the original
  • Have no quotation marks (‘...’)

How to paraphrase

  • Look at the sentence structure
  • Highlight the key vocabulary words
  • Think about synonyms
  • Use a thesaurus online like
  • You cannot always use synonyms, especially for names (Melbourne), numbers (4 million) or specific terms (the capital of)

Example 1: cause and effect relationship

Example 2: passive and active relationship

Now you try (see answers below, all sourced from Only Melbourne, n.d)

  1. The Port Phillip District gained independence from New South Wales in 1850.
  2. Today Melbourne is home to about 4.8 million people.
  3. Authorities say the city's residents come from 110 to 140 different ethnic backgrounds.
  4. Gold was found west and north-west of Melbourne at Bendigo and Ballarat
  5. The surge of wealth and people cemented Melbourne's future as a major city.



Paraphrasing, what is it?

Identifying appropriate paraphrasing:

Using paraphrasing in writing:

Reference list

Only Melbourne, n.d, History of Melbourne, viewed January 3rd 2019,

Possible answers

  1. In 1850 New South Wales was granted autonomy to the Port Philip District
  2. The City now has a population of approximately 4.8 million inhabitants
  3. Melbourne has a variety of cultures, with between 110 and 140 nationalities living in the city
  4. In Ballarat and Bendigo early explorers discovered gold.
  5. Melbourne became a large city as a result of wealth and increased population.