Learning How to Paraphrase
These three ways of incorporating other writers’ work into your own writing differ according to the closeness of your writing to the source writing.
Quotations must be identical to the original, using a narrow segment of the source. They must match the source document word for word and must be attributed to the original author. In this class you are allowed to quote specific terms such as Industrial Revolution or mercantilism but nothing else. Quotation marks are not needed for terms. The content in your quizzes and exams must be paraphrased from the assigned readings.
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. This is what you must do for the assignments in this class.
Summarizing involves putting the main idea(s) into your own words, including only the main point(s). Once again, it is necessary to attribute summarized ideas to the original source. Summaries are significantly shorter than the original and take a broad overview of the source material.
A paraphrase is…
- your own rendition of essential information and ideas expressed by someone else, presented in a new form.
- one legitimate way (when accompanied by accurate documentation) to borrow from a source.
- a more detailed restatement than a summary, which focuses concisely on a single main idea.
Paraphrasing is a valuable skill because…
- it is better than quoting information from an undistinguished passage and encourages you to prioritize the content.
- it helps you control the temptation to quote.
- the mental process required for successful paraphrasing helps you to grasp the full meaning of the original.
Follow these steps to succeed in this class.
5 Steps to Effective Paraphrasing
- Reread the original passage until you understand its full meaning.
- Set the original aside, and write your paraphrase on a note card.
- Jot down a few words below your paraphrase to remind you later how you envision using this material. At the top of the note card, write a key word or phrase to indicate the subject of your paraphrase.
- Check your rendition with the original to make sure that your version accurately expresses all the essential information in a new form.
- Record the source (including the page) on your note card so that you can credit it easily if you decide to incorporate the material into your paper.
Here are some examples for you to study. This is how I expect you to paraphrase your sources.
In the following examples number I is the original and number II is the paraphrase.
- “The Antarctic is the vast source of cold on our planet, just as the sun is the source of our heat, and it exerts tremendous control on our climate,” [Jacques] Cousteau told the camera. “The cold ocean water around Antarctica flows north to mix with warmer water from the tropics, and its upwellings help to cool both the surface water and our atmosphere. Yet the fragility of this regulating system is now threatened by human activity.” From “Captain Cousteau,” Audubon (May 1990):17.
- According to Jacques Cousteau, the activity of people in Antarctica is jeopardizing a delicate natural mechanism that controls the earth’s climate. He fears that human activity could interfere with the balance between the sun, the source of the earth’s heat, and the important source of cold from Antarctic waters that flow north and cool the oceans and atmosphere (“Captain Cousteau” 17).
- The twenties were the years when drinking was against the law, and the law was a bad joke because everyone knew of a local bar where liquor could be had. They were the years when organized crime ruled the cities, and the police seemed powerless to do anything against it. Classical music was forgotten while jazz spread throughout the land, and men like Bix Beiderbecke, Louis Armstrong, and Count Basie became the heroes of the young. The flapper was born in the twenties, and with her bobbed hair and short skirts, she symbolized, perhaps more than anyone or anything else, America’s break with the past. From Kathleen Yancey, English 102 Supplemental Guide (1989): 25.
- During the twenties lawlessness and social nonconformity prevailed. In cities organized crime flourished without police interference, and in spite of nationwide prohibition of liquor sales, anyone who wished to buy a drink knew where to get one. Musicians like Louis Armstrong become favorites, particularly among young people, as many turned away from highly respectable classical music to jazz. One of the best examples of the anti-traditional trend was the proliferation of young “flappers,” women who rebelled against custom by cutting off their hair and shortening their skirts (Yancey 25).
- 3. Of the more than 1000 bicycling deaths each year, three-fourths are caused by head injuries. Half of those killed are school-age children. One study concluded that wearing a bike helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent. In an accident, a bike helmet absorbs the shock and cushions the head. From “Bike Helmets: Unused Lifesavers,” Consumer Reports (May 1990): 348.
- 3. The use of a helmet is the key to reducing bicycling fatalities, which are due to head injuries 75% of the time. By cushioning the head upon impact, a helmet can reduce accidental injury by as much as 85%, saving the lives of hundreds of victims annually, half of whom are school children (“Bike Helmets” 348).
- Matisse is the best painter ever at putting the viewer at the scene. He’s the most realistic of all modern artists, if you admit the feel of the breeze as necessary to a landscape and the smell of oranges as essential to a still life. “The Casbah Gate” depicts the well-known gateway Bab el Aassa, which pierces the southern wall of the city near the sultan’s palace. With scrubby coats of ivory, aqua, blue, and rose delicately fenced by the liveliest gray outline in art history, Matisse gets the essence of a Tangier afternoon, including the subtle presence of the bowaab, the sentry who sits and surveys those who pass through the gate. From Peter Plagens, “Bright Lights.” Newsweek (26 March 1990): 50.
- Matisse paintings are remarkable in giving the viewer the distinct sensory impressions of one experiencing the scene first hand. For instance, “The Casbah Gate” takes one to the walled city of Tangier and the Bab el Aassa gateway near the Sultan’s palace, where one can imagine standing on an afternoon, absorbing the splash of colors and the fine outlines. Even the sentry, the bowaab vaguely eyeing those who come and go through the gate, blends into the scene as though real (Plagens 50).
- While the Sears Tower is arguably the greatest achievement in skyscraper engineering so far, it’s unlikely that architects and engineers have abandoned the quest for the world’s tallest building. The question is: Just how high can a building go? Structural engineer William LeMessurier has designed a skyscraper nearly one-half mile high, twice as tall as the Sears Tower. And architect Robert Sobel claims that existing technology could produce a 500-story building. From Ron Bachman, “Reaching for the Sky.” Dial (May 1990): 15.
- 5. How much higher skyscrapers of the future will rise than the present world marvel, the Sears Tower, is unknown. However, the design of one twice as tall is already on the boards, and an architect, Robert Sobel, thinks we currently have sufficient know-how to build a skyscraper with over 500 stories (Bachman 15).
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