To paraphrase means to restate someone else's ideas in your own words. Paraphrasing is more than simply substituting phrases here and there--you must use your own sentence structure and phrasing. A paraphrase should offer your readers the same level of detail provided in the original source: not just a simpler or shorter version. Lastly, always remember to provide a reference to the original source.
Paraphrasing can be useful when you want to:
The University of Toronto offers the following strategy to help make paraphrasing easier:
When you are taking notes in the early stages of essay writing, do not copy the material verbatim (word for word): write your notes in point form instead. Make a point to use your own words right from the start and try to capture the main idea of the passage. Remember to take clear notes and include referencing information (author, title, page number, etc.) to keep track of where and how you found the source.
When it comes time to start writing your assignment, expand the ideas from your notes into full sentences. Provide a reference to the original source, then check it to make sure your paraphrase is accurate and in your own words.