Paraphrasing Reading Passages

Learning Objective:

  • Paraphrase reading passages to be used as support in an essay.

There are two ways to incorporate sourceA person, book, article, or other thing that supplies information. material: direct quotationsAn exact copy of the words from a speech or text. These words are placed inside quotation marks to show that they are a perfect repeat of the original. and paraphrasingThe use of different words to express the meaning of an original text or speech.. When you use a direct quotation, you use the exact words from the sources within quotation marks. When you paraphrase, on the other hand, you put the information from the source into your own words. Both methods require proper citationA reference within a text to an outside source of ideas, quotes, or information. Citations can be placed within sentences or in a separate works cited or reference section, as specified by the style guide in use. in order to attribute sources to their original authorsA person who wrote a text..

Paraphrasing is also different from summarizingTo give a short version of the main points of a text.. When you paraphrase, you translate what you read into different words. You keep the information intact; paraphrasing is communicating the same information using different language than the language from the source. In contrast, summarizing condenses the information by providing only the main pointsThe most important idea in a paragraph. Main points support the main idea of a reading. and leaving out less important details. Summaries are shortened versions of the original work while paraphrases are focused on a particular idea or fact in the readingA piece of writing to be read. A reading can either be a full work (i.e., a book) or partial (i.e., a passage)..

In this lesson, you will learn the steps to paraphrase reading passagesA short portion of a writing taken from a larger source, such as a book, article, speech, or poem. so you can include information from them as supporting evidenceFacts, statistics, or expert testimony that supports a claim. in your own essaysA short piece of writing that focuses on at least one main idea. Some essays are also focused on the author's unique point of view, making them personal or autobiographical, while others are focused on a particular literary, scientific, or political subject. .

Here is a passage from a newsletter that you will learn how to paraphrase.

Community Hospital Newsletter
Issue 22 - September 23, 2013
By Heather Hewson

The Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean people eat a great deal of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with fish, whole grains, and healthy fats, such as olive oil and nuts. The Mediterranean diet is one of the best diets for weight loss, weight maintenance, and cardiovascular health. Unlike many diets, the Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle diet that imposes only a few restrictions. Followers should limit the consumption of refined sugars and should eat red meat only once or twice a month. Other integral parts of the diet include eating smaller portions and exercising daily to mirror the Mediterranean lifestyle. Research studies demonstrate the benefits of the diet: reduced cholesterol levels, decreased chances of falling prey to a variety of diseases, such as Alzheimer's, diabetes, and even depression. All in all, the Mediterranean diet is one of the most flexible and successful weight-loss solutions available today.

Pages 3 - 5

Follow these steps to paraphrase the reading above.

Step 1. Understand the reading.

Read and reread the passage. It is impossible to paraphrase a reading that you do not understand. Think about what the passage means, and identify the subjectThe people, places, things, or ideas being discussed or described. and main ideaThe most important or central thought of a reading selection. It also includes what the author wants the reader to understand about the topic he or she has chosen to write about.. In this case, the subject is the Mediterranean diet, and the main idea is along the lines of, “The Mediterranean diet is healthful, effective, and easy to follow.” Be sure to read the passage as many times as you need to in order to fully understand the information in the passage.

Step 2. Consider the reading.

Put the original passage aside, and give yourself some time to think about the material. If you try to paraphrase the information too soon after you read the original source, you may unintentionally "borrow" the author's phrasing instead of using your own words.

Step 3. Draft the paraphrase.

Return to the original passage and, in a notebook or on an index card, write down what you think the original author meant to say.

The Mediterranean diet is based on the food that people who live near the Mediterranean Sea eat. It is a diet rich in fresh and natural foods, such as garden produce, fish, olive oil, and nuts. This diet helps people lose weight and stay healthy, and has been shown to reduce risk for certain diseases, such as diabetes and Alzheimer's. Unlike most diets, the Mediterranean diet has more to do with lifestyle choices than calories, and it makes few restrictions. Followers must limit refined sugars and red meat. It is recommended that people on the diet also eat less and exercise more. It is no wonder that this diet has helped many people lose weight and attain better health.

Step 4. Compare the paraphrase with the reading.

Double-check your version with the original version to check the accuracy of your paraphrase and to make sure your paraphrase does not copy the words in the original. The paraphrase should be in your own words, but it must retain the meaning of the source text.

Step 5. Edit the paraphrase.

Here is another attempt at a paraphrase that is closer in meaning to the original, but does not use exact language from the original.

The Mediterranean diet is based on the food that people who live near the Mediterranean Sea eat. People who eat a diet rich in fresh and natural foods, such as garden produce, fish, olive oil, and nuts lose weight, stay healthy, and have a reduced risk for diabetes and Alzheimer's, among other health problems. It is recommended that people on the diet eat less and exercise more. When compared to a majority of weight-loss plans, the Mediterranean diet is easier for people to follow. Instead of counting calories, people should limit how much they eat of both red meat and processed foods that are high in sugar. It is no wonder that this diet has helped many people lose weight, reduce their risk for disease, and attain better health.

Step 6: Record the source.

Record the necessary information needed to citeTo give credit to the source of ideas or information. the source. Note the author, title, publication, volume and issue (if included), website (if applicable) and page number, as in the citation below.

Hewson, Heather. "The Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet" Community Hospital Newsletter 22 (23 Sept. 2013): 3-5. Print

When writing an essay, you will use paraphrased information primarily as evidence in your supporting paragraphs. It will help if you apply the MEAL conceptAn acronym that describes a method of organizing the paragraphs in an essay. Under this plan, each paragraph should have a Main point, Evidence, Analysis, and a Link to the next paragraph.: main idea, evidence, analysisTo analyze is to make a thoughtful and detailed study of something. An analysis is the end result of analyzing., linkTo connect ideas together within a paragraph or to create a transition from one paragraph to the next, as well as back to the thesis.. After you come up with your own main idea, you will gather information from sources and paraphrase the information to use as evidence to support your main idea. Paraphrases should be used only to provide support; they cannot stand in for the main idea or topic sentenceA sentence that contains the controlling idea for an entire paragraph and is typically the first sentence of the paragraph. of an essay.