How To Avoid Plagiarism

Whether you’re writing an authoritative article, interviewing an expert, or sharing important findings, you want to avoid taking ideas or concepts from another author and passing them off as your own. At the same time, you want your work to have credibility, and pulling from other sources can add that boost. Plus, in today’s always-on,

Whether you're writing an authoritative article, interviewing an expert, or sharing important findings, you want to avoid plagiarism. That is, taking ideas or concepts from an original source and passing them off as your own. While swiping a few ideas or words may seem harmless, it can have major repercussions, especially for content writers, publishers, and agencies.

But this doesn't mean you're stuck writing about common knowledge - far from it! It's still possible to write like an authority and incorporate key points from other publications and writers, whether they're from online sources or in print. You just have to do it the right way.

In this article, we're going to discuss how to avoid plagiarism. We'll talk about what it is, its potential consequences, and what you can do to avoid plagiarism in your own content.

What Is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism occurs when you take ideas, words, data, etc. from an original source without giving them proper credit. Basically, you're taking someone else's work and making it seem like its your own, whether you intended to do so or not.

That's right - accidental plagiarism does exist. In fact, it's just one of many types of plagiarism.

What Are the Different Types of Plagiarism?

Many people think of plagiarism as copying someone or something word-for-word. But this is just one of the different types of plagiarism.

Direct Plagiarism

This is a classic type of intentional plagiarism, where someone tries to pass off someone else's work as their own. An example of direct plagiarism would be copying a sentence word-for-word from another author and putting it into a blog article without quotation marks and a proper citation.

Patchwork Plagiarism

Also known as mosaic plagiarism, patchwork plagiarism involves taking bits and pieces from different sources and throwing them together to create something new. For example, taking sentences or portions of sentences from multiple authors, and rearranging them to create a new paragraph in your own work.

Paraphrasing Plagiarism

Now we're going to get into some of the more surprising forms of plagiarism. People often think that paraphrasing is a way to avoid plagiarism. However, if you're not citing the original source, then you're still trying to claim someone else's idea as your own.

An example of paraphrasing plagiarism is taking someone's original idea and/or sentence, and changing a few words. This is especially common in academic writing involving literature reviews, so students and professionals in the field should be careful of this one.


Yes, you even need to worry about plagiarizing yourself! Recycling your own work may seem like a time-saver, but it's still not original content. For example, you can't copy sections of an article you previously wrote for a client and paste them into a different article for a different client.

Accidental or Unintentional Plagiarism

Accidental or unintentional plagiarism occurs when you're unaware that you're plagiarizing someone else's work. This could be due to improper citations, failing to surround a quote with quotation marks, or simply forgetting to cite references.

This kind of inadvertent plagiarism may be due to nothing more than a lack of knowledge or oversight. But unfortunately, it still counts.

Strategies for Avoiding Plagiarism

Whether it's intentional or not, it's essential to avoid any type of plagiarism in your work if you want to avoid the potential consequences. Not only is copying another's work against many academic codes, but it also won't be tolerated in professional settings. Students risk losing their place in school, and professionals their jobs.

Fortunately, there are a variety of strategies that you can try to avoid plagiarism and ensure that you're delivering original material. So, whether you're coming up with a blog post, journal article, scientific paper, or something else entirely, consider working the following tips into your writing routine.

Share Your Perspective of an Idea

It's fine to mention someone else's idea, but what do you think about it? You likely have a unique perspective or angle that you could add to the discussion, and that can help your thoughts (and thus your writing) to flow more naturally.

Don't forget that if you're sharing someone else's idea or their phrasing, that you cite or quote them appropriately. We'll share how to do that below.

Cite the Source Appropriately

One of the best ways to avoid plagiarism is to simply cite your source. But this isn't a one-size-fits-all situation - there are a variety of ways to do this properly. For example, after jotting down some information that you need to give credit for, you can add parenthetical citations with the original creator's information. Or, you could add in a footnote that denotes the original author's full name, the date of the publication you're referencing and any other information that's required.

The requirements will vary depending on the style guide you're using as a reference, so be sure to follow it closely. If you don't have one on hand, then the Purdue Online Writing Lab from Purdue University is a great place to learn about two of the most common ones, APA and MLA.

Paraphrase the Original Author

Paraphrasing means taking the other person's words and altering them to the point that the concept sounds like your own. As you can probably imagine, there's a bit of a delicate balance between plagiarizing someone else's work and taking the core idea and putting it into your own words. You still need to cite their original idea, though, so keep that in mind even as you work to make it yours.

The key thing to remember is that you want to remain true to the original idea as it was expressed. You certainly don't want to dive into a thesaurus just replacing words without any regard for the nuances of their meanings.

Quote the Original Author

One incredibly easy yet often overlooked method for avoiding plagiarism is taking a direct quote from the original author. This way, you can use their words verbatim.

Don't forget to include their name, where the phrase originally appeared, and when.

What About Open Interpretations?

What if you take information from someone's interpretation of another work? Plagiarism doesn't have to be a direct quotation from someone else's work in order to be considered plagiarism. Just look at this example from Northwestern University.

On the aforementioned page, you can also find excellent examples of using other authors' examples when presenting your own, incorporating their charts or graphs, and even covering debatable or unusual facts.

The Bottom Line on Avoiding Plagiarism

As you can see, although there are many seemingly gray areas where you have others' thoughts, examples, ideas and even images, the rules regarding plagiarism are clear: if it's not your work, then you need to cite it. This applies to nearly everything, even if you're not an academician.

Outside the world of academia, linking back to the original example is done not only to expand on the information presented, but also to give credit to the original author. Besides, backlinks are like gold for online sources, and the number of backlinks pointing to a specific report or finding gives it greater “clout” in the search engines.

The problem arises whether you're a content producer, publisher, or agency. You don't want to risk losing those valuable backlinks, and you definitely don't want to risk your company's reputation, search engine ranking, and other factors that affect your ability to be seen and hired by potential clients. That's why using a plagiarism detection tool like Originality.AI is so important.

How Originality.AI Works

Originality.AI goes beyond ordinary plagiarism checkers, including academic plagiarism checkers and popular online checkers that look merely for copied words and phrases from other sources. With the plethora of AI-enhanced article writing tools at our disposal, it is becoming more and more tempting for writers of all backgrounds to put their writing skills aside and let the AI cobble together something passably human - at least, at first glance.

However, Google's rules regarding AI-generated content are clear, and more than ever, companies are scrutinizing the content they order to ensure that it's not only factually accurate, but that it hasn't been churned out by some machine feigning readability. It's not a matter of if search engines will catch them, but when.

Plus the consequences of plagiarism online for businesses are tough. A loss of reputation, visitors, clients, ranking, and more. There may even be legal notices or monetary damages involved.

That's the beauty of using a plagiarism checker like Originality.AI, as it helps give business owners, content creators and publishers, and marketing agencies peace of mind. That's because Originality.AI is tuned to pick out the tell-tale signs of plagiarism from even the most sophisticated content writing bots, including the newly-released ChatGPT AI content creator.

Even better, businesses and publishers of all backgrounds can try Originality.AI on their own content risk-free. By using coupon code BeOriginal you can save 50% on your first purchase of 2,000 credits or more. One credit allows the deep-dive scanning of up to 100 words. Try Originality.AI now for yourself and see how easy it can be to avoid plagiarism while making sure your business is producing the best-quality content for your given area of expertise.

Sherice Jacob

Plagiarism Expert Sherice Jacob brings over 20 years of experience to digital marketing as a copywriter and content creator. With a finger on the pulse of AI and its developments, she works extensively with to help businesses and publishers get the best returns from their Content.

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