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Handout: Paraphrasing from Media

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Paraphrasing involves putting a passage from source material into your own words. A paraphrase must also be attributed to the original source. Paraphrased material is usually shorter than the original passage, taking a somewhat broader segment of the source and condensing it slightly. Paraphrases also help one shape the meaning from the text to one’s specific project.

Some instructors will say that 4 consecutive words will make a paraphrase too close to the original language. This is certainly a grey area; check and see what your instructor says.

5 Steps to Effective Paraphrasing:

1. Read and then reread the original passage until you understand its full meaning.

2. Take notes on the most essential elements of the passage—the main claim, supporting claims, evidence, explanations, etc.

3. Set the original aside, then write your paraphrase on another sheet of paper.

4. Check your rendition with the original to make sure that your version accurately expresses all the essential information in a new form. This takes time to master; don’t worry if you have trouble changing the original language into your own language.

5. If you have borrowed any unique terms or phrases from the original source, use quotation marks to identify them and include an internal citation.

Some examples to work with:

“Purdue University has exceptional standards for all qualities of its campus, and it certainly does not lower them for its food services program. Most of the dining courts offer an entertaining atmosphere with exceptional quality of food.”

“Students frequently overuse direct quotations in taking notes, and as a result they overuse quotations in the final [research] paper. Probably only about 10% of your final manuscript should appear as directly quoted matter. Therefore, you should strive to limit the amount of exact transcribing of source materials while taking notes.”

“As consumers, most of us are unaware of what we are consuming. This is a problem. Not only do we depend on the food industry to provide us healthy and safe foods, we fully trust the FDA to monitor what we consume and approve it.”