You may be wondering why I am writing a post on How to Paraphrase Effectively. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I am hosting The Strategic Reading Challenge designed so participants can learn key skills needed for future jobs. This allows them to thrive in 2020 according to the World Economic Forum. To remember more of the books you read, I recommend that participants take notes while reading.
Additionally, when you finish reading each book, I invite you to review your notes several times to become familiar with the information, so that you can pick out the big ideas from the book. After you have read five books, you are encouraged to combine the ideas from the different books. But what does any of this have to do with effective paraphrasing, you may ask. Hold on a minute, it will become clear.
What is a Paraphrase
Let’s define paraphrase.
According to Dictionary.com a paraphrase is:
- “Restatement of a text or passage giving the meaning in another form, as for clearness; rewording.
- Act or process of restating or rewording.”
Note taking is first and foremost a form of learning. When taking notes, you can paraphrase effectively, only if you understand what you have read – that is also learning. When you paraphrase what you read, you are making the information your own while keeping the author’s meaning. This means you are filtering ideas based on your understanding of the passage. The mental process you need for effective paraphrasing allows you to grasp the full meaning of the original passage. Paraphrasing effectively is also an important skill to have when attending lectures, speaker events, or while listening to podcasts and watching videos.
Taking notes while you are listening is very different from when you are reading. When you are reading, you can easily flip back the pages if you missed key information. That is not the case when you are attending lectures and speaker events. And even if you are taking a course online, listening to a podcast or watching a video, it is annoying when you often have to rewind or pause. And you waste precious time that way. So, whether you are reading a book or listening to information, you should be translating what you are seeing and hearing, and you do this by paraphrasing. See why learning to paraphrase effectively is so important?
The Research: Why Paraphrasing Effectively is Important
A study by two psychological scientists, Pam Mueller of Princeton and Daniel Oppenheimer of UCLA, found that when students took notes by hand they were more likely to reframe the information, while those who used a laptop simple typed word-for-word trying to quickly capture what they are hearing. There is no processing of the information. The result of the study is that those who took notes by hand recalled more information. I suspect the same results would apply when you reframe or rephrase what you are reading. That is the power of putting information in your own words.
Want to Paraphrase Effectively? Here’s How!
Rules of Paraphrasing
- Restate what the person wrote while maintaining the original meaning. Never change the meaning of the passage by adding your thoughts. If you add bold or italics for emphasis, tell the reader you have done that.
- Although you are rewriting the information in your own words, refer to the author. Give credit, so provide a reference.
- Don’t include all the information from the original passage, figure out what is the essential vs non-essential information and share only the essential information. Not sure what information is essential. What is the main idea in the passage? That is essential information.
- You are paraphrasing the passage, but you should also be analyzing it as well. What does it really mean?
- Don’t paraphrase every word.
- The paraphrased passage is often shorter in length than the original.
- The thesaurus is your friend.
How to Paraphrase Effectively
- Read through the passage that you want to paraphrase a few times to make sure that you understand what the author is saying – the meaning.
- Reflect on what the author is saying, what does she mean?
- Put the passage aside, then restate what you just read in your own words without changing the author’s meaning. This is where a thesaurus comes in handy.
- When you restate the passage, you don’t have to follow the same sentence structure or the original placing of information. You can move around the information you restate without changing the original meaning. Do not paraphrase word for word.
- To make sure that you do not plagiarize, start your paraphrasing at a different point in the passage from the original start.
- Though it may seem obvious, when you finish your paraphrase, check it against the original passage to make sure that you adequately expressed what is in the original passage.
- Attribute to the original source.
- Practice paraphrasing passages from different books. That how you develop expertise in paraphrasing and become effective.
When to Paraphrase
Final Thoughts on How to Paraphrase Effectively
I hope that I have convinced you that how to paraphrase effectively is a worthwhile topic to cover on this blog, and that paraphrasing is a skill for you to develop. You will paraphrase in the situations I mentioned above while reading and listening because having too many quotations in your work decreases readability. And you appear like you do not have your own thoughts and do not understand the information. When you rewrite an author’s word without changing the meaning, you truly understand her work.
Now that I have been exploring the topic of paraphrasing, I will be writing a short e-book to complement the note taking one. In the book, I will explore how to distinguish between essential and non-essential information, something I assumed everyone knew how to do.
Paraphrasing Strategies: 10 Simple Techniques For Effective Paraphrasing In 5 Minutes Or LessSummarizing, Paraphrasing, and Retelling: Skills for Better Reading, Writing, and Test TakingThe Only Academic Phrasebook You’ll Ever Need: 600 Examples of Academic LanguagePerfect Paragraphs 2 : How to Write Killer Paragraphs Using Your ResearchSentences and Paragraphs: Mastering the Two Most Important Units of Writing (The Writing Minis Book 8)
Mueller, Pam A., Oppenheimer, Daniel M. April 23, 2014. The Pen is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking. Journal of Psychological Science, Vol 25, Issue 6, 2014