Reword vs Paraphrasing - 7 Key Differences

Written by Azlan Updated at Sep 20, 2023 Reading time: 5

Reword vs Paraphrasing - 7 Key Differences

When incorporating research or references in writing, there are two main techniques to present the material in your own words: rewording and paraphrasing. At first glance, rewording and paraphrasing may seem interchangeable. Both involve taking an existing text and modifying it to say essentially the same thing using different vocabulary and phrasing. However, there are some key differences between these two approaches. Rewording consists of simply substituting synonyms and rearranging sentence structures. Paraphrasing is a more thorough restatement of the ideas in your own words and writing style.


In this article, we will compare rewording and paraphrasing in-depth, looking at seven key differences: purpose, changes to meaning/style, use of references, plagiarism concerns, level of difficulty, use in writing, and quantity of changes. Understanding the distinct goals and appropriate applications of rewording versus paraphrasing can help you use both techniques effectively in your writing. Let's explore when each method is preferable and how to rework content properly.


7 Key differences between Reword and Paraphrasing

1. Purpose

The main purpose of rewording is to rewrite the original text into new words and phrases. The goal is to convey the same meaning using different vocabulary and sentence structures. Rewording aims to preserve the content while altering the wording.


Paraphrasing aims to restate the original information in your own words. The focus is on accurately representing the ideas, not just changing the words. Paraphrasing requires comprehending and summarizing the full context using your vocabulary and style.


2. Changes to Meaning and Style

When rewording text, the meaning and style remain unchanged, and only the wording is altered. The central ideas and tone stay the same.


Paraphrasing often changes the style and sometimes slightly alters the meaning through interpretation and summarization. The core information remains accurate, but the paraphrasing reflects the writer's perspective.


3. Use of References

Rewording usually does not require any references since the content is unaltered. The reworded text does not belong to the writer.

Paraphrasing involves restating ideas in your own words, so references to the source are required. This credits the original author and lets the reader compare your paraphrased version.


4. Plagiarism Concerns

Simply rewording a text does not make it your writing, so this can still be considered plagiarism without proper attribution. The reworded content should be treated as a direct quote, requiring quotation marks.


Paraphrasing allows you to uniquely express someone else's ideas in your writing style without plagiarizing. As long as the paraphrasing represents the source's information, it is considered ethical with proper citations.


5. Level of Difficulty

Rewording text is relatively straightforward since you can directly substitute words and phrases while retaining the original structure and meaning. Automated tools can easily reword texts by shuffling synonyms.


Paraphrasing well requires a deeper understanding of the material. It involves comprehension, summarization, and rewriting using your vocabulary and content presentation. This level of re-expression is more complex than simple rewording.


6. Use in Writing

In some contexts, reworded descriptions or definitions can be used verbatim without quotation marks, especially for recurring information like product details. But, reworded paragraphs or sections from a source should be treated as direct quotes.



Paraphrasing is better suited for including authoritative information from research in your writing. Paraphrasing allows you to provide background from sources while sustaining your style and voice.


7. Quantity of Changes

The extent of the changes made to the original text differs considerably between rewording and quality paraphrasing. With rewording, you may only swap out a few words or phrases here and there while keeping much of the original sentence structure and organization identical. This results in minimal revision - simply interchanging certain vocabulary terms with synonyms.


For example, a reworded sentence may read: "The boy walked speedily to school" instead of "The boy ran to school." The changes are restricted to one adjective and verb, with the rest left unchanged.


In contrast, paraphrasing well is a more extensive rewrite of the source material. Paraphrasing requires thoroughly reworking entire sentences, passages, sections, or even the full article using your own words and presentation style. The degree of alteration from the original is substantial.


Rather than isolated word substitutions, paraphrasing involves recasting your language's ideas, explanations, and logical flow. You must understand the full context to express it accurately through a more in-depth restatement of the content and connections. This goes beyond just vocabulary changes to reformulating the conceptual framework.


In summary:

  • Rewording involves simple word and phrase substitution, while paraphrasing requires rewriting the full ideas.
  • Rewording maintains meaning exactly; paraphrasing can interpret and condense the information.
  • Rewording does not make the content your own, and paraphrasing expresses the ideas in your own words.
  • Rewording may still be plagiarism without citation, and paraphrasing requires crediting sources.
  • Rewording is easier and can utilize tools, and paraphrasing is more complex.
  • Rewording is suitable for repeated descriptions, and paraphrasing works better for including research.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the main difference between rewording and paraphrasing?

The key difference is that rewording changes the vocabulary while keeping the original phrasing and meaning intact. Paraphrasing expresses the ideas in your own words and style.


Can reworded content be used without citing sources?

No, reworded content that closely matches the original text should be treated as a direct quote and attributed to the source. Rewording alone does not make it your writing.


Is paraphrasing the same as summarizing?

Paraphrasing and summarizing both restate ideas from a source in your own words. Summarizing condenses the main points while paraphrasing focuses on rewriting the full passage in detail.


Is it acceptable to paraphrase content from online sources?

Yes, paraphrasing online content is usually acceptable, provided you properly cite the source. But simply rewording text from websites can still be considered plagiarism.


Should I paraphrase or directly quote my sources?

It depends on the context. Direct quotes can emphasize authoritative information. Paraphrasing demonstrates your understanding while seamlessly integrating source material. A combination is often the most effective.



In conclusion, rewording and paraphrasing take different approaches to rewriting existing text. Rewording is focused on changing vocabulary while retaining meaning exactly. Paraphrasing involves comprehending and then re-expressing the ideas in your style. Both techniques can improve your writing, but be mindful when citing sources. Understanding the key differences allows you to effectively leverage rewording and paraphrasing in your work.



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