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Paraphrasing and summarising

Writing at university involves integrating ideas from other authors into your own writing.

Paraphrasing and summarising allows you to acknowledge these authors by expressing the information in your own words. Effective paraphrasing also demonstrates your understanding of the information.

How to paraphrase

To paraphrase, you need to:

  • change the structure of the sentence
  • change the words in the sentence

Changing the structure of a sentence

  1. Read the original text a number of times and make sure you understand the main ideas.
  2. Write down the main ideas from memory.
  3. Check what you have written against the original text – make sure you have retained the original ideas and that your version is different.

Changing the words

It can be easy to spot when someone has copied directly from a textbook. We all have different styles of writing and yours will be different to the authors you are reading.

  1. Once you understand the main ideas of the original text look for specialised words – these words may be retained in the paraphrased version, as they are key to the meaning of the sentence.
  2. Look for words or phrases that can be changed.
  3. Use a thesaurus or dictionary to find substitutes.

Rephrasing or restating information from another source in your own words without changing the meaning.
Usually shorter than the original passage.

A summary includes only the main ideas of someone else’s writing, restated in your own words.
Much shorter than the original text.

Always acknowledge the original author when using a paraphrase or summary.

For more information see Citing APA style. 


The most common improvement strategy is upgrading management. Modern mythology promises that organisations will work splendidly if well managed. Managers are supposed to have the big picture and look out for their organisation’s overall health and productivity. Unfortunately, they have not always been equal to the task, even when armed with computers, information systems, flowcharts, quality programs, and a panoply of other tools and techniques. They go forth with this rational arsenal to try and tame our wild and primitive workplaces. Yet in the end, irrational forces too often prevail.


Developing management is the most common strategy used to improve the overall health and productivity of an organisation; however, this does not always work due to ability or uncontrollable forces, regardless of the tools or technology employed (Bolman & Deal, 2013).


Bolman and Deal (2013) recognise that renewing management is the most common strategy for an organisation’s improvement; however, managers are not always able to find solutions and there are often uncontrollable forces that influence the outcome.

Word thesaurus

You are probably already familiar with spellchecker and grammar checker in Microsoft Word. Another beneficial tool is the thesaurus, which can aid your writing to find the best word to meet your needs.

Using the thesaurus, you can look up synonyms (different words with the same meaning) and antonyms (words with the opposite meaning).

The following screencast demonstrates how to use the thesaurus function in Word.

Paraphrasing techniques

Steps to effective paraphrasing and summarising:

  1. Read your text/paragraph and ensure that you understand it.
  2. Write down your ideas without looking at the original.
  3. Use synonyms or change the word order of your sentence.
  4. Compare with the original to see whether you are conveying the same meaning.
  5. Note down the source so you can easily cite it later.

3 key techniques for paraphrasing

Change vocabulary by using synonyms

  • asserts – claims, argues, maintains
  • twentieth century – 1900s
  • illustrates – explains, emphasises, clarifies

Change word class

    • analyse – analysis, analysing
    • create – creating, creation
    • assume – assumption, assuming, assumed

Change word order

    • analyse – analysis, analysing
    • create – creating, creation
    • assume – assumption, assuming, assumed

Additional resources

The University of Auckland provides further resources on paraphrasing and summarising as part of the online learning module Referen©ite.

Further paraphrasing tips from Queensland University of Technology.