How to Avoid Plagiarism in Content Writing: A Complete 7-Step Guide

Published On
September 1, 2023

Avoiding plagiarism in content writing is essential to creating content that will obtain a good SEO ranking. Duplicate posts are penalized by search engines and also damage your reputation. Whether you outsource the content creation service or develop it yourself, you should know how to avoid plagiarism in content writing.

The following is a step-by-step guide to help you ensure the originality of your publications. But first, let’s take a look at what it really means to copy existing content.

What is plagiarism?

One of the greatest obstacles in knowing how to avoid plagiarism in content writing is the lack of knowledge of what plagiarism means. A publication can be a copied text, even if not all the text is exactly the same.

In reality, plagiarism refers to presenting someone else’s work as one’s own. Therefore, it applies both to what is said and how it is said. Both ideas and style can be plagiarized.

Plagiarism violates copyrights and constitutes an act of counterfeiting. It is a criminal offense, although this can be difficult to prove in certain fields. There are well-known cases of plagiarism in the musical industry as well as in literature and the scientific fields.

Hardly a novelty, with the advent of the Internet, the problem of plagiarism has intensified. It is very easy to access thousands of online resources and just as difficult to keep track of all sources. Moreover, many publications on the same topic exist. To be considered original, they must offer something unique.

It is a real challenge for search engines to know how to avoid plagiarism in content writing. Fortunately, algorithms are improving day by day, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to publish copied texts. Nevertheless, plagiarism is much more than the textual reproduction of an article.

In order to know how to avoid plagiarism in content writing, it is necessary to be familiar with the different types of plagiarism. Additionally, types of plagiarism can be classified , for example, according to the degree, intention or type of content. Although all types refer to the appropriation of someone else’s creation, they differ in their methods and consequences. For practical purposes, we will refer to the most common types of plagiarism to help you identify and, above all, avoid them.

Types of Plagiarism

Direct plagiarism

Direct plagiarism is also called textual plagiarism or cloned plagiarism. As its name indicates, it refers to the copying of a text by another individual that is then passed off as one’s own creation. It can be complete or partial.

It most commonly occurs when a sentence, an idea or a block of text from another article is used and inserted into a written piece without referencing it. It is the most widely recognized and, fortunately, also the easiest type to detect, thanks to software tools.

The two most frequent forms of direct plagiarism are:

Content extraction

Content extraction consists of using content from another website and publishing it without obtaining the owner’s permission. This can be done manually, by copying and pasting the text or by using specialized software. Both cases are a criminal action that can be legally sanctioned.

This tactic should not be confused with syndication. When syndicated content is published, it is indeed material created by another publication. In this case, however, the author’s credits are provided with a link to the original publication.

Spun content

Some consider content spinning a version of extraction. In content spinning, the original is slightly modified, for example, by rearranging the structure of the text or the order in which ideas appear or by replacing words with synonyms. It also applies to images in which changes are made to the color palette or filters are applied.

It is worth noting that this is a relatively common practice among authors. To increase the number of publications, they resort to spun content. Although not ideal, this action is not penalized. After all, it is a reworking of one’s own idea. The problem occurs when a third party appropriates an original creation.

It is easier to detect when using synonyms or synonym software because the programs are still imperfect. The programs often generate sentences with incorrect or nonsensical syntax. Hand-spinning can be more accurate, but rewriting a text can require just as much time as creating a new one.

Accidental plagiarism

Sometimes plagiarism occurs unintentionally. This may be the result of carelessness or unawareness of citation techniques. For example, a source is not cited properly or at all. Or a quote has not been marked as such. Or complete references have not been included.

Another form of accidental, or unintentional, plagiarism is the misuse of paraphrasing. Admittedly, concepts that are 100% original are rare. Most people develop their ideas from known facts. However, the reader should always be able to identify the author of the content.

If you use content from another source as the basis for your content, you must clearly separate your ideas from those you are quoting. You can paraphrase to restate your explanation or refute an argument. However, simply changing a few words is not reinterpreting a text.

So how do you avoid plagiarism in content writing if you are not aware of it? First, be sure to familiarize yourself with the citation rules. With proper citation, you can paraphrase content and analyze or expand it without plagiarizing it.

Incremental plagiarism

In this case, the author also combines their own ideas with others that have been copied. This occurs when an attempt is made to expound an idea based on previous content. To be considered plagiarism, the content must contain copied fragments without references, regardless of the percentage of reproduced text.

Therefore, even if most of the content is original, it may still be incremental plagiarism. Many people are unaware that this is a form of plagiarism. This also occurs because it is sometimes difficult to discern authorship with content covering what is considered general knowledge.

On the other hand, in academic articles, the author may reuse publications to generate their own content. Even if the objective, sources and results differ, it is essential to cite the original source. For example, if the data from a survey are used to draw new conclusions or to put forward different hypotheses on a given subject, the survey must be cited.


Self-plagiarism or recycling of texts is more common than many would like to admit. Essentially, it is reusing your own content in other publications. Even as the author of a text, you should not republish content or a fragment of it as original material.

The original work must be referenced. If for any reason you need to refer to previously published material, request permission from the publisher and cite the source.

It may seem a bit excessive to talk about how to avoid plagiarism in content writing that you yourself have written. Understand that by doing so you would be creating material that does not constitute a new contribution to knowledge. Citing the previous material shows respect for the readers and for their time. Self-plagiarism does not infringe any intellectual property rule, but it is still a dishonest act.

7 steps on how to avoid plagiarism in content writing

Anyone interested in how to avoid plagiarism in content writing should pay attention to the creation process. Even before you write the first line, you should be aware of the importance of creating an original publication. Moreover, if you are outsourcing content creation, you should make sure that your provider delivers unique materials.

When it comes to SEO-oriented content, originality is particularly important in the ranking. Moreover, publishing duplicate articles can lead to penalties for the website.

Consider the following steps as a guide to proper action and verification of content creation techniques so that you can avoid plagiarism in the future.

1. Plan

Perhaps you are wondering what planning has to do with how to avoid plagiarism in content writing. A lot. Creating original content is hard work that requires time and dedication. Undoubtedly, it is much easier and faster to duplicate or rework materials that have already been written. However, do not lose sight of the fact that creating content implies providing value to the reader.

Therefore, it is essential to design a work methodology and plan the different phases of the process. Include revision and proofreading steps in your publication schedules.

2. Research

To create original content, you need to conduct extensive research. Reviewing sources enables you to recognize information gaps or discover new perspectives. Paradoxically, by knowing more about a subject, you will also know how to avoid plagiarism in content writing. The more you master a subject, the better prepared you will be to develop a unique perspective.

This will also help you find valuable references to support your arguments with accurate data.

3. Record your sources

Research will provide you with countless references. When handling many sources, it becomes especially important to pay attention to how to avoid plagiarism in content writing. Devise a record-keeping system for citing materials consulted. Your publisher likely prefers a predetermined citation style. Familiarize yourself with the most commonly used styles:

  • MLA: developed by the Modern Language Association of the United States. Generally, it is used in works addressing language, literature and art studies.
  • APA: is the most popular format. It was created by the American Psychological Association and is applied in all types of academic documents.
  • Chicago: is a citation model that originated at the University of Chicago. It is commonly used in publications on history, social sciences and humanities.
  • CSE: is the style manual written by the Council of Science Editors of the United States. Its standards are widely used in medical, biological and natural science writing.

4. Organize the information

The easiest way to avoid plagiarism in content writing is organization. Once you have gathered and reviewed all the references, you should make a preliminary outline of the content piece. Be sure to order your ideas and highlight the quoted fragments. Use quotation marks to highlight these and immediately add the source reference.

5. Be creative

Analyze all the information gathered and be creative in generating new ideas from what you have researched. Be sure to differentiate your creation from the materials consulted. Some authors make a list of doubts to identify new solutions or aspects that have not been adequately addressed. This is a good strategy if you are concerned about how to avoid plagiarism in content writing.

Rely on the references consulted to frame your original perspectives and remember to cite the sources.

6. Improve your writing skills

Anyone who wants to create content should strive to improve their writing skills. Reading is an excellent tool for increasing vocabulary and learning to play with words. Diversify topics and authors to achieve greater language proficiency.

Learning how to express your ideas will familiarize you with how to avoid plagiarism in content writing. To avoid bias or copying the style of the authors consulted, internalize the ideas and try to write them in your own words.

7. Use anti-plagiarism tools

Plagiarism detectors are an indispensable resource for both writers and content creators. A responsible author will surely be concerned about how to avoid plagiarism in content writing. Likewise, those who delegate the production of texts for a company to third parties need to verify that the materials are original.

There are many software programs, both paid and free, that compare articles with published resources. Mind that while these are valuable systems, they are not foolproof.

Knowing how to avoid plagiarism in content writing can be a very complex task. There are situations where the line between copy and original is very thin. However, your our best defense against plagiarism in content writing is awareness of what plagiarism is and, above all, your knowledge of the subject matter.