Paraphrasing is a necessity, but it can be dangerous if you don't know how to do it correctly. Since your paper should use direct quotations sparingly, you'll have room for several paraphrased passages. Just remember that you still need to express plenty of your own ideas in between. Use paraphrasing to support those ideas.
Always indicate whose ideas you are paraphrasing, either by introducing the passage with an attribution (for example: according to Howard Gardner ...), or by including their name in the parenthetical reference, footnote, or endnote reference directly after the paraphrase.
Read your source document carefully, until you understand exactly what the author is saying, then look away and rely on your memory to record the statement in your own words.
Check your paraphrase against the source for accuracy, and modify phrases that match the original too closely.
If you must borrow a unique word or phrase, enclose it in quotation marks.
Include a citation to the source document, including the specific page number used, at the end of each paraphrased passage.
Because there is a fine line between an acceptable paraphrase and plagiarism, an example of each follows.
"America today has veered too far in the direction of formal testing without adequate consideration of the costs and limitations of an exclusive emphasis on that approach." 8
Paraphrase Version 1:
America has now gone too far toward formal testing, without realizing the costs and limitations of exclusively emphasizing that approach (Gardner 179).
Although the source is cited, the paraphrasing is too light, retaining too much of the original wording and sentence structure.
Paraphrase Version 2:
In the United States, the education system places too much emphasis on formal testing, overlooking the limitations and expenses imposed when that assessment strategy is employed exclusively (Gardner 179).
This paraphrase is different enough from the original source that it would not be considered plagiarism, so long as Gardner is credited.