There is some amazing, original, web content out there. We have all experienced reading a blog post or article that we wish we had written ourselves. This article is about how to ‘use’ other’s original content to complement our own, without becoming a Copy-Cat.


Plagiarism as Defined by Wikipedia

Plagiarism is the “wrongful appropriation” and “stealing and publication” of another author‘s “language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions” and the representation of them as one’s own original work.[1][2]

Wikipedia is an excellent online resource for any writer. But give credit where credit is due.


Online Plagiarism on the Internet

There is also a more web-specific definition on the same Wikipedia page above which reads, “Content scraping is copying and pasting from websites and blogs.”

It is one thing to appreciate another writer’s work, but what if they explained something in words you felt you could not better, let alone match? Do not risk jeopardising your online reputation by simply copying and pasting from other sites.

There are a few options to safeguard against the originality of your work being questioned:


Hyperlinking to Web Content

There is no shame in ‘using’ what someone else has written if you can add to it or build on it but, credit it. Use hyperlinks and anchor text to safely reference sources to give more credibility to your work. Losing credibility would mean losing readership and respect.


Quoting other Web Writer’s Works

It is tempting to quote others in your work. It can add value to your piece by having others support your ideas and shows you have researched your topic. It is imperative, however, that you quote the text exactly as it appeared in the original work.


  • Use quotation marks
  • Introduce quotes with phrases like: “According to author Karen Lotter…”
  • If possible, make reference to the article title, published date, website etc.


Citations – Don’t Forget to Do Them Right

When you use a portion of an online article or blog, include references in a footnote at the end of your works by numbering your references in your pieces where they are referred to.

Refer to this article on WikiHow titled, “Cite a Website”, to learn more.


When writing for the Web, it’s vital to earn the trust of your audience. Credibility is vital as it helps build relationships with your readers.

In the world of social and online web media, we all post, share or tweet great pieces without always considering crediting who created the piece initially. We often can’t even trace the origin when something has been re-posted thousands of times.

Be conscious of what you are publishing online and where possible:

  • Quote
  • Cite
  • Reference
  • Link
  • Credit the best way you can


Respect the Ethics of Online Writing

Respect the art and you will earn respect in return. Your readers will still appreciate good writing even if it is not yours but you share and credit it fairly.

Focus on producing original, inspired work with fair reference when due. The goal is that one day, other’s will want to link to your pieces, share them and even quote from them – while giving you the credit and exposure for work worth sharing.


About the Author:

Kerri Leo is a Writing for the Web Graduate at SA Writers College. Her blog is