- A paraphrase tool can aid in understanding by providing a different perspective on text
- The buzz is about ChatGPT – but there’s more than one AI tool out there
- Paraphrasing can spark ideas and fresh approaches – even if you never use the text!
Remember the last time you were reading or writing something, and found it a bit … difficult? Your brow furrowed. Your brain was a whirl. Beads of sweat appeared on your forehead. In the worst cases, your eyes filled with tears of frustration. Relax; we’ve all been there.
There are many reasons for not feeling good about a piece of text. Perhaps you wanted to explain something to someone else, and didn’t quite have the expertise or vocabulary to communicate it clearly. Maybe the language you’re writing in isn’t your mother tongue, and it’s taking too long to get your words down.
If you’re reading a piece over and over without “getting it”, perhaps its author assumed knowledge you don’t have, or used technical jargon to illustrate the point. Or perhaps the author was just a terrible writer who couldn’t write a straightforward sentence if his life depended on it.
One way of solving this problem is to use a paraphrase tool – to write it in a different way, using a different approach or alternative parts of speech that make its meaning clearer.
Paraphrasing is a useful method, but it takes time. Especially if you’ve got to do it yourself, starting with a piece of text you found difficult! Fortunately, there are paraphrasing tools out there that’ll help – and that’s the subject of this article. Of course ChatGPT is getting all the headlines, but in fact AI-driven paraphrasers have been around for a while – and many are very good.
Here’s what they do, why they matter, and five paraphrase tools worth taking for a trial run. With a very special invitation at the end.
“Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original and the part that is original is not good.” — attributed to Samuel Johnson.
What is a paraphrasing tool?
A paraphrasing tool isn’t usually a standalone application. Most are parts of larger AI-driven software offerings – like the ones below.
In most cases, you highlight a piece of text, set the paraphrase tool to work, and it recasts key sentences and sections using synonyms, different grammatical structures, and changed word choices – often making it easier to understand. In some apps, you can also specify a goal – perhaps to make the text more formal, more precise, or to match a style guide.
An article you wrote in a hurry, full of bad sentence structures and repetition, can often benefit from being run through a paraphrasing tool. Obviously, this is a boon for overworked professionals and professors – not to mention students who leave their term papers until the night before they’re due.
How to keep your paraphrasing honest (Use Citations)
Many content producers claim paraphrasing an article by someone else isn’t plagiarism, because it’s not the same piece of text.
It is, however, presenting the original author’s work – just in a different way. The paraphrasing doesn’t contain new research or fresh ideas; it’s just a different way of saying it.Which makes the answer clear: paraphrasing without attribution is still cheating, just as if you’d cut-and-pasted the original article wholesale.
The way to avoid this (you guessed it) is citation. Give the original author credit by noting where the original text appeared, with the author’s name and other information you’d include if you were an (honest) academic.It’s not really hard; the most popular format for it is called APA referencing.
Paraphrase tools add references with ease
When citing within your paraphrased text, use the format: (Thorig, 2023, p.56 s.5). Where “Thorig” is the author’s family name, followed by the year of publication and the approximate location within the text.
For the full citation (usually a footnote or in a list at the end) it takes the form: Author’s name and initial / publication date / title, ending with the edition number (not usually needed for web content) and publisher. On the web, citations often link to the web source too.
Thorig, L. (2023). The best paraphrase tool: our top 5 picks (1st ed.). Contentoo.
Too much to remember?
The good news: many of the paraphrasing tools below generate citations in a variety of styles, including APA, for you – just enter the details, and it formats them correctly.
What to look for in a paraphrase tool
Good paraphrasing tools do more than just play with sentence structures. They can also summarise the article as a whole (usually in a single paragraph), rewrite the piece with the same meaning but different word choices, and make sure the new piece communicates the same information as the original without duplicating it.
They also take care of a few housekeeping tasks like reducing repetition, keeping quotes intact (you want to paraphrase the article, not the words in quotes!) and apply tools like proofing checks to the whole thing. Let’s put these in bullets:
- Communicate the same information with different word choices
- Show you different grammar or sentence structures
- Summarise the main points of an article
- Clean up and shorten text for repetition and redundancy
- Maintain the integrity of “static” information like quotations
- Proof and spellcheck automatically to remove errors
- Integrate with other writing tools like word processors and CMSes
The most important feature for many, though, is the way they integrate into the writing tools you’re used to. Some are plug-ins to CMSes like WordPress; some work invisibly in apps like Word or SaaS like Google Docs.
The best give you easy access to the AI paraphrasing tool, but doesn’t interrupt your everyday user experience.
Why use a paraphrasing tool?
The main use of an online paraphrase tool is to deepen your understanding, by seeing a topic explained in a different way.
But that’s not the only reason to use them. The paraphrase function makes a great writing assistant: it can help you be more productive in any area of knowledge work.
Write better, faster, and smarter
Many people find writing hard. If that’s you, consider putting your text through a paraphrase generator.
The version you get back may say what you wanted to say, in a clearer or more informative way – or at least give you a clue as to what needs improvement. This is among the fastest-growing ways to use paraphrasers: as software “performance coaches” that help you hit that deadline.
Find synonyms with ease
Interesting words and unusual descriptions make writing more interesting and engaging – and that’s another area where a paraphrase tool can shine.
If you’re using the same nouns and adjectives over and over, run your text through a paraphraser to spice it up a bit.
Which is the best paraphrasing tool?
There is no one “best” paraphrase tool online. Rather, each of the best-known apps has specific strengths and weaknesses.
Some will produce text that’s more readable, but hasn’t changed much from the original; others will be more creative, but risk communicating a slightly different meaning or nuance.In general, the more goal-oriented your text is – like a web article hoping to attract 1,000 C-level engineers – the more you’ll need to spend money on a paid subscription.
But for everyday use when you’re writing emails or short descriptions, free tools are fine. Our list has both. Interested in AI-related video content? Read our blog about the top 5 picks for AI video creation.
Our top 5 picks for paraphrasing tools
On to the tools. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these five represent all the most important features of a paraphrasing tool – and we like them. Let’s start with Ref-n-Write.
1. Ref-n-Write: great for researchers and educators
It might seem that our first app’s name needs a bit of paraphrasing itself, but the awkward-to-type Ref-n-Write has been around for a long time. It illustrates how different paraphrasers suit different audiences – so we thought we’d start with it.
It’s a plugin for Microsoft Word. That’s important, because the app is designed for technical and academic writing – journal papers, scientific reports, and theses, which often have very strict formatting requirements. It’s widely used in the higher education sector, and is very easy to use – just drag and drop your files or links onto the icon. This audience means Ref-n-Write is among the best tools for citing, cross-referencing, using quotations, adding footnotes – all the stuff that makes an academic paper valid.
It’s perhaps less good for “everyday” writers. But if your text is for a technical or specialised audience, check it out.
2. Wordtune: top choice for journalists
Paraphrasing app Wordtune is a plugin for browsers like Google’s Chrome. Since much of the writing we do today happens in a browser window – from composing an email to adding web content in a CMS – this makes for excellent ease-of-use. Wordtune gets rave reviews from one group above all: journalists.
They’re people used to tight deadlines and strict wordcounts, and they love the way Wordtune gives them multiple paraphrases for a single sentence – a rich source of ideas when writing the 100th article on the month’s hot topic.
If you write frequently on the same subject, put Wordtune at the top of your consideration list.
3. QuillBot: free and easy, but limited
Third up is QuillBot. It’s free for low-intensity use, and for many people, it’s the only paraphrase tool they’ll need. Web-based making use of a simple form, it’s fast and accurate, taking just seconds to transform text up to 10,000 words long.
QuillBot also summarizes text effectively; it’s more than a paraphrase. That 10,000-word limit, however, makes it unsuitable for long-copy projects like books; you’ll have to cut-and-paste in multiple chunks. (Even the paid-for version has this limit.)
So we’d recommend QuillBot for people who have to write regularly, but don’t do it as their main job.
4. Paraphraser: a useful way to get started
Aptly named Paraphraser isn’t limited to paraphrasing: in addition to rewriting articles, it can check your grammar, produce summaries, and make sure you’re free of plagiarism issues – although of course, this isn’t an excuse to avoid citations! Like QuillBot it’s web-based, letting you cut and paste into a simple form. However, in our test it produced the odd error more often than other apps, so don’t mistake simplicity for accuracy.
It’s also the slowest of the paraphrase tools here. But if you want a very simple “entry level” tool to get your paraphrasing game started, take a look at Paraphraser.
5. (And Grammarly, just for good measure)
Our last choice is a little different. Grammarly isn’t actually a paraphrasing tool, but the spelling and style assistant is ubiquitous across the world of commercial text – everyone’s heard of it, and most are using it. The reason: Grammarly does it all. It works across a huge range of apps, both SaaS / browser-based and desktop applications like Word.
Highlight any text, and it’s easy to swing in Grammarly to check everything from dialect consistency (as with US or UK English), spelling and punctuation, prose style, and a great deal more. Why it’s on this list: its rephrase feature is among the best paraphrasing tools in itself, producing clean and accurate rewrites of your text.
So as an all-rounder with millions of users, we can safely recommend Grammarly.
See what paraphrasing could do for your content – then take it to the next level with Contentoo
All these tools have the same goal: to make your writing more effective.
On the web, that means higher search rankings, a larger audience, more click-throughs, and ultimately better conversion rates. In other words, more bang per buck for what you write. That’s why a paraphrase tool can be so useful. They let you produce fresh, original content that’s right for your audience, quickly and easily. That’s why so many of the freelancers you’ll find on the Contentoo platform use them, and you should, too.
But with AI becoming more and more useful to marketers, we’d like to introduce a way to go further.
Contentoo now has its own AI tools in beta – and early reports are that they’re great!
- These tools let you optimise existing content for better SEO
- Produce volume content that gets you in front of more sales prospects.
- Original, ownable content that helps push the buying decision in your favour at the narrow end of the sales funnel
It’s paraphrasing taken to the next level.
There are still a few slots left on our beta programme. Why not sign up to try our beta AI tool today?