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Writing Tip #16: Put it in your own words: Paraphrasing

One of my students asked, “Why do I have to reword it when someone else has already said it better than I ever could?” My answer to her was that if she did not paraphrase she would be stealing the material from the original author! This is called plagiarism. Paraphrasing also shows the instructor that you understand the material. Your paper will be more coherent if you completely understand the information. Remember that your professor is a professional and will know whether or not you have comprehended the subject matter.

Paraphrasing also saves you from adding too many quotes. Using a lot of quotes makes you look lazy and is not acceptable in academic writing. One important rule is that if you choose to use more than two words together verbatim from the author, you must use quotation marks.

Use a thesaurus to find different words that mean the same as the author’s if you’re not feeling particularly brilliant. Citing the paraphrased or quoted material will be your next step, but we will get into that in the next tip.

An example of paraphrasing is:

Original: “Brill and Smith (2010) found that the students performed class work more efficiently directly after the teacher finished a lesson.”

Paraphrased version: “The researchers reported that students more successfully completed classroom assignments just after their teacher concluded the lesson.”

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Writing Skills

Published on by bcalvano.

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It’s all in the details: Descriptive writing

Okay, this is where the artist in you gets to paint with words! Anyone who has ever read a Victorian novel or a Stephen King book knows the significance of details. It his book, It, King’s description of Pennywise the Clown has inexorably changed the way I feel about clowns. I have not been to the circus since I read the book in 1993.

Use the senses to describe. How did the room smell? What sounds could be heard from outside or from the other room? Could you almost taste the bread baking in the kitchen? Was the fabric on the settee soft or rough? Was the room dusty or filthy, or was it fresh and clean?

Use vivid words. Instead of writing “the dog,” write “the stately Great Dane.”

Add feelings to strengthen the mood: “The anxious elderly woman reluctantly opened the door.”

Details, details, details: They are the key to descriptive writing that will leave a memorable impact on your readers.

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Writing Skills

Published on by bcalvano.

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