Incremental Plagiarism: How to Avoid the Serious Consequences

By: | August 25, 2020 | Tags: ,

Do you know what counts as incremental plagiarism?

If you are a blogger or other type of writer, you should know what incremental plagiarism is in order to avoid committing it.

Incremental plagiarism is a crime.

This post will answer the question, “What is incremental plagiarism.”

By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know the serious repercussions of incremental plagiarism and how you can avoid committing incremental plagiarism.

Are you ready to learn how to avoid incremental plagiarism?

What is Incremental Plagiarism?

To what degree is your writing original? If you can’t honestly answer, “100%,” you may be guilty of incremental plagiarism.

Incremental plagiarism is plagiarism that occurs in increments. In other words, most of the writing is original, but there are spots that are lifted from another piece of content or other pieces of content without being properly quoted.

Content Credibility and Incremental Plagiarism: How to Avoid the Serious Consequences

incremental plagiarism

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In this day and age, everybody has their own website, blog, or vlog but there’s a high chance that the content you see on those sites is not the website owner’s original content.

How can this be a guaranteed fact? Because nobody thinks for themselves anymore. To be fair, there actually are sites out there with purely original content, but for the most part, a lot of the content on various sites have been plagiarized.

The term “plagiarized” is used very loosely here. That’s not saying that website owners are going around stealing word for word content from other sites, per se. But there are lots of websites looking to other websites for information and “rearranging” the words to make it their own. It’s also pretty common to see ideas plagiarized as well. 

Maybe this “almost/kind of” plagiarizing could be called “light plagiarizing?”

Can you get sued for plagiarism?

The thing to understand about plagiarizing content is that although it’s not a true criminal act, it can be viewed as one if the content you use infringes on an author or writer’s copyright, intellectual property rights, or their trademark. When this happens, an author could sue a plagiarizer in a court of law for copyright violations.

But let’s be honest here… A lot of writers may have great ideas in their heads and may need just a little help getting their start in the intro or just need a little help in their conclusion… If they get inspiration from other sites on how to best utilize their words and word placement, would that still be considered as plagiarizing?

So what’s considered plagiarizing and what’s not?

It seems as though this particular word, “plagiarism,” is very complex in its boundaries and lines that can’t be crossed. Fortunately, as technology has advanced, so has software programs that help you avoid this type of word theft. But it’s also important to note that plagiarism isn’t always deliberate either. Plagiarism is a deliberate act of stealing some else’s content and crediting it as your own.

There is so much information out there that you could be writing on a particular topic and the verbiage you use could be flagged as a stolen piece.

The truth of the matter is that it’s just so easy to be accused of plagiarism, even if it wasn’t your intent. But in knowing how easy it is to be accused of this, you want to make sure you protect yourself with business insurance. This applies to you whether you’re a freelance writer or if you have a writing business. There are sites that will help you create a policy customized for you.

Ultimately, the goal is to not have to use your policy but it’s a safety net to have in case you need it. If you indeed enjoy writing but want to protect yourself from getting sued for potentially plagiarizing someone else’s work, there are a few things you can do to ensure your work is your own and you give credit where credit is due.

How to Maintain Content Credibility and Avoid Plagiarism

Credit and Source Any Type of Numerical/Statistical Data You Present

Unless you have a statistical computing machine down in your basement or if you’re just that knowledgeable on world news, there’s no way you’re going to know how many millions or billions of people use social media or how many car accidents happened in Nebraska in 2016. 

To protect yourself with statistical data in your content, you want to make sure you always credit where you obtained that information. Not doing so will cause your readers to ask how you came up with that number. So, to save yourself the embarrassment, include the link to the site where you found the information… It’s just less stressful.

Note Where Your Ideas Come From

Sometimes you need help coming up with topics or content ideas from time to time, and that’s okay. But it’s important to note that if you’re looking up ideas that are very niche-specific, you can still use that topic but throughout your article or blog post, you’ll want to notate where a particular statement came from and reference the site where you obtained the information.

It’s pretty common to need help coming up with blog topics or ideas but one of the best ways to clear your head and generate content ideas is to simply write regularly. This is a common technique that will help you to become a better writer.

Give Credit to Source Images

One of the best ways to grab the attention of your readers is to include photos in your content. The only thing about it is that you have to make sure that you’re not violating any copyright laws. According to, it’s always best to assume that any online content is protected by copyright.

With that frame of mind, you can then investigate the copyright status to ensure whether you can use that picture or not.

Incremental Plagiarism: FAQ

What is Global Plagiarism?

Global plagiarism is when you take an entire work and pass it off as your own without citing source credit. This is in contrast to incremental plagiarism when you sporadically steal excerpts of someone’s text without proper source credit.

Final Thoughts: Credit and Source Speakers of Direct Quotes

If you’re quoting something word for word from a source or a person, ALWAYS credit the source of the quote and speaker. Also, ALWAYS use quotations… It’s just that plain and simple. Not giving credit to the speaker or citing the source when using word-for-word quotes can definitely be looked at as deliberate plagiarism.

Related: To see more examples of word-for-word citations, see these quotes people use as their Facebook status.

Readers, please share so writers know what incremental plagiarism is, the consequences for lifting other people’s writing without proper citations, and how to avoid committing incremental plagiarism.

I look forward to hearing your experiences in the comments section. Have you ever been accused of incremental plagiarism? Has anyone ever stolen your writing without permission?

Author:  Wahab Ullah Amjad

This post was made possible by the support of our readers.

  1. Reji Stephenson

    Hi Wahab,

    Glad to read about plagiarism in blogging. I always make sure that I give proper credit for the other website or the author if I use any idea from them. Also, it is very important that we should give proper credit for any images that we use in our blog.

    Hoping to come back again to read more contents in this blog.

    Thanking you for the good share.

    Reji Stephenson

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Reji,
      Thank you for commenting. Great to see you here. Like you, I try to give source credit. You are right. We should also give credit for our images.
      Take care,

  2. Pospi Otuson

    oops! you got me here…

    I’m guilty of Incremental Plagiarism and this article meant so much to me. Thanks for such a great and resourceful content… I will always share

    • Janice Wald

      HI Pospi,
      Great to hear from you. Don’t worry! I’m sure a lot of us are!
      Thanks for writing!

  3. Ravula Naresh

    That is true Cheif sometimes I do that for ideas what to write and how to and each and every single time I check my contents plagiarism and post it just to be on the safer side and I also give credits if I use there content.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Ravula,
      Thanks for the comments. That’s wise. If in doubt, give credit to the author. It can’t hurt, but it could hurt not to do it.

  4. John Maberry

    Ideas cannot be copyrighted. An expression of that idea can.The description in that segment is a little too vague to be helpful. You need some specific examples if you want to inform people. In Baker v Selden, the US Supreme Court, for example, ruled that Baker could include copies of forms that Selden, an accountant published in book describing an accounting system–the forms of which used that system. Baker couldn’t republish the system but could the form. Copyright can be complicated.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi John,
      I agree this is a complex issue. I appreciate you adding to the discussion with a clarifying example.

  5. Alana

    This is indeed a complex topic. I might add (noting that I am not a licensed insurance agent) that “business insurance” might or might not protect against a claim of plagiarism; and that anyone concerned about insurance coverage should check with their insurance agent to make sure they have the proper coverage. Apart from that, it was excellent in pointing out possible areas of concern. As far as the question of if anyone has ever stolen my work – sadly, I do not know, and need to know how to find out. So again, thank you for raising questions like this.

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