By in Writing

What You Need to Know About Original Content

Adding quotes to your writing can sometimes be a great idea. A quote can help you support your arguments or opinions with the words of an expert or well known figure. A quote can also be a jumping off point off point for your own writing.

But when does using a quote become a problem?

Original Content

Most writing sites specify that your content must be your own original work. In order to qualify as unique, it must meet certain criteria:

  • The words are your own – meaning you haven't copied chunks of it from another source, even if that source is not protected by copyright.

  • The ideas are your own – meaning you aren't just re-telling someone else's story in your own words.

  • Any quotes or paraphrases you do add are just a small part of the total text.

Using Quotations Safely

If you do copy a brief passage from somewhere, be sure it's properly enclosed in quotation marks or set off as a block quote. And always include a proper citation for the quote, so readers know where you got it.

Also be sure that no quote or set of quotes (and no paraphrasing of someone else's words) is the heart of your article. It should be a helpful addition only, and should never account for more than a small percentage of the total text.

Rewriting, Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism

If your entire post is a paraphrase of someone else's news story or expert business advice, you are not submitting original content. Paraphrasing or summarizing someone else's text this way is called rewriting, and it is considered plagiarism.

Let me be clear on this: rewriting is always plagiarism, even if you add a source to your post. This is because adding a source implies you simply consulted the original, not that your entire post is a paraphrase of the original. It's dishonest (plagiarism) to imply that the text is your own original thoughts and words (submitting to a site that asks for original content) and you're probably also committing copyright infringement.

You may think you aren't doing anything wrong, but the law and the professional writing community think otherwise – regardless of where in the world you live. The penalties for plagiarism are bad, but the penalties for copyright infringement are worse. Don't risk it!

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Image credit: Original content by Gerd Altmann/Pixabay ( CC0 1.0 )

Image Credit » by geralt

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cmoneyspinner wrote on July 1, 2015, 2:18 PM

I usually know when a person feels as though I've violated a copyright or whatever. They usually tell me! For real. I've had people contact me and flat out tell me to remove the stuff from my site. No biggie! Wasn't intending to take credit for someone else' intellectual property. Most of the time, I actually contact the originator, let them know how I've referenced their content and ask if it's OK. If they say they don't like it, it's removed. But the response I often get is “Thank you!”

wolfgirl569 wrote on July 1, 2015, 2:31 PM

Thats all so true. I often read news stories that are rewritten and they are not telling me anything that I have not already read somewhere else. But if it a first hand account that can be a good one

Ruby3881 wrote on July 1, 2015, 2:42 PM

Contacting someone whom you've quoted is a great idea! It can often help you to promote your content! But even if the author doesn't object, if a significant portion of your text is copied, it hurts your credibility with the search engines. And it can harm your writing site too! So even if there isn't any infringement, and even if you cite your sources, you may still not be publishing original content. And that usually violates site rules.

Not saying this applies to you specifically, but I wanted to get it out there, because being asked to remove content isn't the only test of original content...

Ruby3881 wrote on July 1, 2015, 2:55 PM

So many people think that if they use their own words, it's all good. But as you say, they aren't communicating anything new. And that's the important part, both in terms of keeping readers interested and in terms of abiding by all the applicable rules and laws emoticon :smile:

cmoneyspinner wrote on July 1, 2015, 3:22 PM

If I'm going to copy a “significant portion”, might as well copy the whole thing! LOL.

Point taken. Folks keep going back and forth over these and concerns, next thing I know King Solomon will sue me from his grave for quoting Proverbs. He'll tell me the SEO Monster woke him up when he was resting peacefully and said I was copying him. (O.o) { Remember! You heard that joke here first! }

Good post. I always appreciate what you publish wherever you publish it. :)

valmnz wrote on July 1, 2015, 4:05 PM

This will prove useful for many, especially the part about original ideas rather than retelling someone else story.

msiduri wrote on July 1, 2015, 4:15 PM

Truth is, isn't not that hard. The simple test is, "Are these my ideas?" If not, then you're plagiarizing. You can state someone else's ideas, attribute them, then give you reaction, assuming it's more than, "Nice post" or "That sucks" of course. And if you're just adding one more post about a topic that everyone is talking about, why bother? Unless you have some new to add or can add a fresh perspective, why bother? It's not a contest to see how many words you can get posted. Just my humble opinion.

Shellyann36 wrote on July 1, 2015, 4:24 PM

So many legalities to weave through to be a good writer.

xstitcher wrote on July 1, 2015, 5:42 PM

Badam-bum! Tsssssss ! She'll be here all night, folks! :D

bestwriter wrote on July 1, 2015, 6:55 PM

Just as an example if someone writes to say too much salt increases blood pressure as part of their post, this in your opinion would be plagiarism. I have read posts where certain foods are recomended as they are rich in vitamins or whatever. Obviously this information is not their own.
In the PP FAQs it says

"You may include links in your articles, so long as they are not referral/affiliate links or link to anything that violates the rules and Acceptable Use Policy"

When would including links be necessary?

Last Edited: July 1, 2015, 7:09 PM

CoralLevang wrote on July 2, 2015, 1:44 AM

I imagine that I have probably violated this sometimes in my life, not knowing ... I guess I will have to be careful from here on out.