What is paraphrasing?

Teachers often tell you to paraphrase, which means to write the ideas that you read in books, magazines, and on the internet in your own words.

The teacher does not want you to copy another person’s work or plagiarize.

How do I paraphrase?

Writing someone else’s ideas in your own words can be difficult, so here are some suggestions for successful paraphrasing.

Let’s look at a sample assignment:

Picasso’s Self Portrait done in 1896

Write a biography of the artist, Pablo Picasso.

Step 1: Do your research

You find some information about Picasso’s life on the Guggenheim Museum website.

Guggenheim website on student laptop

Step 2: Take notes

Read your research material and take notes of main points while you read.

Research and notes

Be sure to write down the websites, books, or magazines where you found the ideas.

Research and notes

Step 3: Reread your notes

Re-read your notes to make sure you understand the author's idea.

Research and notes

Step 4: Rewrite your notes

Use your notes to write a complete sentence in your own words. This is called paraphrase.

Research and notes

Now, write your essay. The paraphrased sentence you created shows proof of your research.

Biography of Picasso essay

Don’t forget to include a citation to show exactly where you found the facts about Picasso.

Biography of Picasso essay

If you don't know how to write a citation, please watch the presentation on citations.


When you are using facts of ideas from an outside source, you should paraphrase, or "put them into your own words."

  1. Do your research
  2. Make notes.
  3. Re-read your notes.
  4. Re-write your notes in your own words. This is called Paraphrasing.
  5. Insert your paraphrases into your essay.
  6. Write a citation for each paraphrase.