Paraphrasing, why necessary

1.What is paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing is the rewriting of a document using different sentence structure and different words from the original. However, the meaning of the original is not changed, neither are any new ideas added, nor anything removed.  

2.Why is paraphrasing necessary? 

(a)   Avoiding plagiarism: Paraphrasing is often used as a means of avoiding plagiarism. For example, an essay may draw on research and literature produced by experts in their fields; in other words, drawing on other people’s ideas. Using another person’s ideas and presenting them as one’s own is unethical, especially if such ideas are copied word for word. Nevertheless, even where another person’s writings are paraphrased, the original author must be cited. Such paraphrasing needs to be full, and every word, except technical terms and keywords, needs to be changed. 

(b) Translated text: A document that has been translated from another language into another, particularly through translation software, can appear almost ‘artificial’. Every language has its own idioms and sentence structure, which means that a literal translation does not always convey the meaning of the original language. A good paraphrase which involves maximum changes to sentence structure will help to ‘polish’ the document and make it easily understood in the target language. 

(c)   The target audience: The wide range of written material, be it academic documents, newspaper or magazine articles or promotional material needs to take a different presentation approach depending on the potential audience. For example, a highly-technical document may not be readily understood by a person who lacks the technical knowledge of the subject. On the other hand, an oversimplified document may be an insult to the intelligence of an expert in any particular field. The general style and approach must always be relevant to the potential audience. This is why a professional paraphraser will always bear this in mind. 

(d) Improving the presentation: A writer may expend considerable effort in writing a document, whether it be an essay, a report or even a book, but may still feel it is not quite right. The writer may even feel that the entire document should be rewritten in order to give it a more professional look. A paraphrase of the whole document will do this. 

What does paraphrasing do? 

(a)   The paraphraser carefully reads through the document in order to obtain a clear understanding of it.  

(b) Paraphrasing rewrites, the document by changing the sentence structure, even by moving blocks of text around where necessary. This gives the document a fresh appearance. 

(c)   It applies synonyms to change as many words as possible, while ensuring that the chosen synonyms accurately reflect the meaning of the original word.  

(d) A paraphraser will also ensure that spelling, grammar and punctuation are correct. 

What does paraphrasing not do? 

(a)   It does not change the meaning of the document. 

(b) It does not change technical words, keywords or proper names. 

(c)   It does not add or remove any material from the document. 

Paraphrasing software v Manual paraphrasing

Paraphrasing software and artificial intelligence are becoming increasingly sophisticated. However, a better understanding of a document can be obtained from a human paraphraser, which can lead to a good paraphrase. 

Can writers paraphrase their own work?

Writers will, of course, make every effort to produce a well-presented work with a good standard of clarity. However, at times, they may still feel that the work could be improved. This is where a professional paraphraser can help. Paraphrasing is complex work and it is a good idea to have an experienced professional to do it.

 The Ultimate Proofreader is a UK-based proofreading, editing and paraphrasing services provider.