Ultimate Guide to Turnitin Similarity Score – Acceptable Percentage

In this post you will learn about Turnitin similarity score. You will understand how to interpret Turnitin Similarity Score and the acceptable thresholds for research papers and academic work.

Please visit the FAQ section to as we have individually address some common questions and provide a detailed look at interpreting Turnitin Similarity Reports and utilizing Turnitin as a plagiarism checker.

Turnitin Similarity Score: A Brief Overview

Turnitin is a highly-regarded online platform aimed at detecting plagiarism in academic writing. By comparing your submitted work to an extensive database of scholarly papers, websites, and other publications, it can identify any similarities.

Students and teachers can get a free Turnitin account, and institutions can subscribe for an enterprise plan to get access to the large database of documents.

The outcome is a "Turnitin Similarity Score," reflecting the percentage of text in your work that corresponds to other sources. So essentially, the meaning of Turnitin similarity score is a percentage chance of you plagiarising your submission.

How it Works

Turnitin leverages advanced algorithms to pinpoint similarities between your work and millions of other documents. Here's a step-by-step breakdown of the process:

  1. You submit your paper to Turnitin.
  2. Turnitin scrutinizes your work and juxtaposes it against its vast database.
  3. The system identifies any matching phrases, passages, or ideas.
  4. Turnitin generates a Similarity Report, complete with a percentage score and detailed insights.

It's crucial to understand that the Turnitin Similarity Score doesn't outrightly imply plagiarism. Instead, it merely highlights matches found, leaving the evaluation of whether the similarities are acceptable to you and your instructor.

Acceptable Similarity Score: What's the Threshold?

The reality is there's no universally-applicable answer to what constitutes an acceptable Turnitin Similarity Score. Later in this article, we have explained how to interpret different colors in your similarity report.

Educational institutions and instructors have varying standards, often influenced by context, subject matter, and specific assignment guidelines.

Nonetheless, many experts concur that a score below 15% is generally deemed acceptable. However, this percentage may fluctuate depending on the circumstances. With the advancement of ChatGPT generated plagiarism it has become more crucial you pay attention to the false positives.

Tips for Keeping Your Similarity Score in Check

To maintain your Turnitin Similarity Score within acceptable bounds, consider adopting these proven strategies:

  • Paraphrase and summarize information in your own words, showcasing your comprehension of the subject matter.
  • Diligently cite your sources using the designated citation style, acknowledging the intellectual contributions of others.
  • Refrain from overusing quotes; instead, strive to present your unique perspective and critical analysis.
  • Utilize a plagiarism checker designed for research and journals before submitting your work to catch any unintentional similarities and ensure your paper's originality.

Interpreting the Turnitin Similarity Report

A Turnitin Similarity Report offers a detailed overview of the similarities detected between your work and other sources. To make sense of the report, consider these key aspects:

  • Match Overview: This section displays the sources with the highest percentage of matching text. Evaluate each match to determine if proper citation has been employed or if paraphrasing is required.
  • Filters and Exclusions: Turnitin allows you to filter and exclude certain matches, like quotes and bibliography entries, to focus on the more relevant similarities.
  • All Sources: A comprehensive list of all sources with matching text, which can help you identify any unintentional omissions in citations.

Remember, interpreting the report is a collaborative effort between you and your instructor to ensure academic integrity and avoid plagiarism.

Upon submitting a paper, Turnitin might take up to 30 minutes to produce a report. When you notice a number adjacent to the assignment, click on it to access the originality report.

Deciphering the Similarity Score

Whether you're using Turnitin for educational purposes or to detect plagiarism, it's crucial to comprehend how to interpret the results.

The similarity figure does NOT necessarily represent a percentage of plagiarized content. It might all be appropriately quoted and cited. The number simply indicates the proportion of the paper that matches an external source.

  • Blue: Indicates no matching text. The paper is likely entirely original writing. This is favorable, but ensure that claims are adequately supported by research.
  • Green: Implies that less than 24% of the paper corresponds to an external source. This is ideal, provided that sources are well-integrated and cited correctly.
  • Yellow: Denotes that 25% - 49% of the paper aligns with an external source. If there's no plagiarism, this paper could likely benefit from further paraphrasing and analysis.
  • Orange: Signifies that 50% - 74% of the paper matches an external source. This is undesirable and necessitates substantial revision, regardless of whether plagiarism has occurred.
  • Red: Represents that 75% - 100% of the paper corresponds to an external source. If you encounter this, first ensure that the paper isn't matching with an earlier version of the same paper added to the Turnitin repository. Next, check if the paper is sourced from just one or two references. Are they cited correctly, or is it plagiarized?

When numerous sources are involved, these papers may appear as a series of quotes with little or no original analysis. This is unacceptable for student work at any level.

Next few sections will help you understand different segments of this anti-plagiarism tool.

Understand Similarity Score Dashboard

Ultimate Guide to Turnitin Similarity Score – Acceptable Percentage 1

 Match Overview

The Match Overview provides a concise summary of the sources that correspond to the text in your writing. A high percentage score indicates a greater extent of text similarity, and the matching sources are highlighted in the same color.

Similarity Insights Panel

The Similarity Insights Panel displays the overall Similarity Score and a list of sources that match your writing. The colors in this list correspond to the highlighted sections in your writing.

Filters and Settings

Utilize filters and settings to exclude citations, quotations, or bibliographic information from your writing. Generally, educators control these settings during assignment setup. If your text has highlighted quotations, consult your educator about the filters and settings for your assignment.

Understanding Turnitin Similarity Report: A Student Guide

There is no specific number to aim for in your Turnitin Similarity Report. Seek guidance from your educator regarding your institution's acceptable threshold for assignments.

A high Similarity Score implies that little of your paper is original writing, while zero similarity suggests that you are not including any source-based evidence, a requirement for many assignments. Some degree of similarity is typically expected.

Utilizing Information from the Similarity Report

The information in your Turnitin Similarity Report can help you make decisions about improving your writing, whether in later drafts of the same assignment or future assignments of a different nature. If you have the opportunity to revise your writing based on your Similarity Score, consider the following:

  • Choose only the most significant quotes or parts of quotes from your sources.
  • Summarize, paraphrase, or explain an idea in your own words rather than quoting it directly.
  • Cite all your evidence using the appropriate citation style.

Seeking Help with Your Score

Educators can access the same Similarity Reports as students. If you have questions or concerns about your score or any information within your report, discuss it with your educator promptly.

  • Bring details and data from your paper and your report for an informed conversation about your current score and how you can make changes to improve.
  • Spend some time before this conversation reflecting on your work, noting areas that may need attention, and determining ways to revise your writing to enhance your Similarity Score.

Handling High Similarity Scores

If your similarity score is high, it indicates that a substantial portion of your paper is derived from other sources. To address this concern:

  • Strike a balance between the information you draw from texts and your original writing.
  • Evaluate when it's more suitable to paraphrase, summarize, or convey an idea in your own words.
  • Ensure that each source you utilize is accurately cited.

Managing Low Similarity Scores

A low similarity score signifies that an insufficient amount of your paper is based on other sources. To tackle this issue:

  • Find equilibrium between your original writing and the information you obtain from sources.
  • Assess when it's more fitting to directly quote a source or rephrase information to provide research-backed support for your argument.
  • Accurately cite every source that you refer to.

Dealing with Large Portions from a Single Source

If your paper contains extensive sections from one source, it suggests that an excessive amount of your paper relies on other sources. To rectify this situation:

  • Incorporate your own words into your writing where appropriate.
  • Choose only the most crucial parts of each quote, rather than incorporating an entire paragraph with unnecessary details.
  • Elucidate each quote you use, providing an analysis of its relevance to your argument.

Addressing Predominantly Original Writing

If the majority of your paper consists of your own words, it indicates that too little of your paper is supported by other sources. To resolve this issue:

  • Integrate research-based information to bolster your argument.
  • Properly cite each source that you reference.

Don't hesitate to consult your educator if you have questions or concerns about your similarity score or the contents of your report. They can assist you in making the required adjustments to enhance your writing and meet academic standards.

Frequently Asked Questions about Turnitin Similarity Scores

Here are some common questions and answers to help you navigate the complexities of Turnitin Similarity Scores in academia:

Q: Does a high Turnitin Similarity Score automatically mean I've plagiarized?

A: Not necessarily. A high score may indicate similarities between your work and other sources, but it's up to you and your instructor to determine if those similarities are a result of plagiarism or merely coincidental.

Q: Can I dispute my Turnitin Similarity Score?

A: If you believe your Turnitin Similarity Score is unjustly high, discuss it with your instructor. They can review the Similarity Report and make an informed decision about whether to adjust the score or not.

Q: How can I improve my Turnitin Similarity Score?

A: By using a good academic plagiarism checker tool like Grammarly and taking advantage of Turnitin's AI Detection Tool, you can reduce your Turnitin Similarity Score and ensure your work is unique, well-cited, and reflective of your own insights.


The Turnitin Similarity Score is an indispensable tool in maintaining academic integrity and ensuring the originality of scholarly work. By understanding how it works, what's acceptable, and how to interpret the Similarity Report, you'll be better equipped to navigate the world of academia.

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