Plagiarism: How to avoid copying

Cutting and pasting information directly from a web page or directly copying from a book is neither a good way of learning nor an honest way of doing a project. Below are some guidelines to help you use information in your College work.

1. Choose your information carefully

Books are best because publishers thoroughly check facts through several reviewers and editors to ensure quality before publication. Only qualified authors are likely to have their books accepted for publication. Also, you can always find the date of publication on a book so you know if it is old information. Websites often require careful searching to check their quality, reliability and that they are up to date. This takes time and skill!

2. Read carefully and take notes

It is the process of actively reading and putting it in your own words that makes note taking useful. It will help you

  • To understand the information
  • To remember the information
  • To explain the information to someone else
  • To find the main points that are useful
  • To revise

3. Summarize

To write a summary, you must first look for the most important ideas. Then you put all the main ideas together in a logical order. This will help you structure your writing and avoid waffling. You must identify the key points; delete some information and keep some information. This is often easiest done with a pen and paper even if you are using a website.

4. Paraphrase

This means to write someone else’s ideas in your own words. It is more detailed than a summary. Paraphrasing is not plagiarism (stealing someone else’s work) if you follow some basic rules and name what books or websites you are using. When you paraphrase you: replace unusual words – ­use a thesaurus keep it as simple as possible express the main ideas in your own words express the points concisely. Don’t use the same sentence structure as the original paragraph use the same words as the original copy complete phrases from the original text.


“When the Romans arrived in Britain in 43AD, they took over a country that was disorganised, fragmented, and divided into sections, each occupied by a different race of people. There was no central administrative centre, no road network, no law or order. There wasn’t even a single currency in use throughout the land. It was clear that there had to be a massive rebuilding programme from the roots up. Not just in building terms, but also in educating the natives to accept a new way of life”.


In 43AD the Romans invaded Britain and changed everything for the many different tribes of people who lived here: buildings, roads, money, law, government.


In 43AD the Romans invaded Britain and started a building programme that transformed and organised how people lived, what they lived in and how they were governed. From a land of many small kingdoms, they created an overall government and one money system, town planning and a road system bringing their own order to the people who lived here.

Source: Romans in Britain [Accessed 23/06/2011, no longer online]

Essential reading:

Ofqual (2009) Using Sources A Guide for Students: Find It-Check It-Credit It  Download a copy here.

Stinson, Marie (2003) Leeds Metropolitan University The Little Book of Plagiarism. amended version [Accessed: 19/01/2018]

Plagiarism websites


Page updated by LD, 19/01/2018

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