Paraphrasing is presenting ideas and information in your own words and acknowledging where they come from with an in-text reference. By using your own words, you demonstrate your understanding and your ability to express this information, and by including an in-text reference you are acknowledging that the idea is not yours.
Compare the direct quotation from Freeman and Clasen (2011, p. 376) with the paraphrased version below. Note how the paraphrased sentence is structured differently to the original, and different words and word forms have been used, but the meaning has not changed.
"Schools and school children can play an effective role in increasing awareness and adoption of healthful practices and products at home" (Freeman & Clasen, 2011, p. 376).
It is through the education of young learners that greater cognisance and uptake of healthy behaviours can be introduced into the home (Freeman & Clasen, 2011).
When should you paraphrase in your writing?
In many disciplines, lecturers prefer that you paraphrase and/or summarise other people's ideas in your writing more often than quote. Even when your discipline allows greater use of quotes, do not fall into the trap of over-quoting. Your course lecturers and tutors are often more interested in you demonstrating your understanding of others' ideas and your ability to interpret those ideas accurately.
To learn more about paraphrasing and how to do it well, visit the Paraphrasing section of this site.