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Turnitin Similarity Score: What Is Acceptable Percentage

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John Milovich
John Milovich
ScamFighter Expert
Former college customer turned freelance writer, shares insider insights on the essay industry.

If you find yourself wondering how to avoid plagiarism in academic papers, I’m here to help. Knowing the acceptable Turnitin score will allow you to deal with plagiarized content once and for all. Turnitin is one of the most powerful tools that can be used in academia. It runs your assignment through the database of papers stored in its archives. If the system detects any similarities between the millions of papers uploaded to the system and the essay that you submitted, it will automatically flag your work. Today, I’m going to shed light on the issue that bothers all college students - what percentage is considered plagiarism?

For starters, let me preface this by saying you can always upgrade your paper with proper citations and references and still get flagged. A little similarity is normal for your content, especially if you have used multiple sources for your work. Unless you are a writing genius capable of crafting the paper from scratch without using a single existing source, having an acceptable plagiarism score is nothing out of the ordinary. Still worried about what Turnitin percentage is acceptable? Read my guide on the secrets of a Turnitin report and how to make sure you have an acceptable similarity limit in your assignments.

Color-Coded Similarity Report: Details

Before I dive deeper into the subject of Turnitin what percentage is acceptable in your paper, let me remind you that Turnitin does not only check your paper against other student submissions in its repository - it also scrapes various websites and documents to know if your work is original and whether you used a reliable source in the process. If the text is a nice combination between the Turnitin database sources and the original content, there should be no problem in submitting it to your teacher. When your text looks like all your words have been borrowed from other sources, it is time to paraphrase correctly.

Let’s say I just received my color-coded plagiarism report and need to look at all the different colors to answer the question, “What is a good similarity score?”. Here is how I break down the colors for clarity:

  • Blue: There is no matching text in your report.
  • BlueGreen: Green means you have a similarity score ranging from one word to 24%.
  • Yellow: There is a matching percentage of text that varies from 24% to 49%.
  • Orange: 50% to 74% of the matching text is detected in your paper.
  • Red: You have 75% to 100% of the matching content in your essay.

So, what Turnitin percentage allowed in your papers, making them good writing? In most cases, schools and universities consider anything below 15-20% an excellent score, which should be your goal. Other institutions will point out that your essay is plagiarized if at least 30% similarities are detected. If your academic assignment demands a similarity score below 15%, I suggest you check best paper writing service reviews to know the top writing companies that can help you with getting an acceptable percentage. When in doubt, be sure to follow the tried and tested method I’ve used over time - aim for the lowest similarity score imaginable. Fun fact: prestigious universities will only allow a similarity score that does not exceed 10%. This can only mean one thing: proper referencing and avoiding copied content in writing should be your priority.

Turnitin: What Is Considered an Acceptable Percentage?

The most pressing issue upon receiving your report is something that I’ve encountered before. You immediately start thinking: what percent of plagiarism is allowed in my work, and what will the teachers say? You have to understand Turnitin doesn’t always flag your work because it thinks you copied and pasted relentlessly. There are exceptionally complicated subjects like Biology and Science where you will have no choice but to reference and paraphrase other people.

This means that the similarity score for such papers will always be different compared to a business report, a movie review, or a personal essay. Some teachers will communicate their requirements so that students know that 30% is an acceptable score for the assignment and is not bad at all. In most cases, however, I would strongly advise you to keep the similarity score below 25% and read the instructions for your assignment to answer this important question: what is the acceptable percentage for Turnitin? It is common knowledge that a desired standard for any straight-A student should be a score of 5% or less.

Still, most colleges are less demanding with their academic assignments unless it is an admission essay, where the acceptable plagiarism percentage should always be around 10%. There is a reason a personal essay has no similarities - it features zero citations and only has your personal experience as a reference. What’s a good Turnitin score in this case? Anything below 10% should be your mission. You should also know that Turnitin will always detect direct quotes from the source, so integrating someone else’s ideas is only possible if you learn how to reference them properly.

Detecting High Turnitin Percentage: Bad Score

It is not uncommon to panic when wondering, “Turnitin similarity how much is too much?” and whether your essay is going to be accepted the way it is. There are several aspects that need to be taken into account to label someone’s similarity score as bad. In the past, I have asked myself similar questions: how can I reduce the score in my paper, and what is an acceptable percentage of plagiarism for the task I’ve done on my own? Generally speaking, if your score falls within the green mark, your paper is ready for submission. Scoring blue means you are a writing professional who needs to be praised by the school teachers. However, if you managed to score 30% or higher, it is time to read your assignment once again and cite the references properly.

So, what is a bad Turnitin score? If your similarity report is red, this indicates that nearly every sentence has been copied from other sources without proper formatting. When you are thinking, “What percent is considered plagiarism?” you should know that anything beyond 40% is a bad indicator. This means you’ve copied from the original source without referencing. There are several ways to fix this problem. You can either talk to your teacher about excluding references and bibliographies from the settings or reduce their number to a minimum. You can also paraphrase sentences in your own words. I know this sounds like a challenge, especially if you have to maintain accuracy in your report and craft a plagiarism-free paper. Other strategies include using quotation marks to indicate a quote from a specific source and ensuring the overall originality of the paper. Now that you know what percent on Turnitin is bad, you can employ a few smart tactics to avoid similarity issues.

Similarities and Plagiarism

After we’ve established what percentage of plagiarism is acceptable, we can move on to the key difference between similarity and plagiarism. While many believe that Turnitin only shows a high score of plagiarized content, I recommend digging deeper into the subject. Plagiarism is a creative theft and serious academic misconduct, which may lead to severe consequences. It is the outright use of someone else’s work and submitting it as your own. Similarities, on the other hand, can be found in every academic paper and are accepted by the teacher in case they don’t exceed the reasonable amount.

How long does Turnitin take to detect similarities and make sure your references are properly cited? If you submit the paper for the first time, you can expect the similarity report to be ready in a matter of minutes, 15 minutes being the usual maximum. If you resubmit the paper, you have to wait for another 24 hours for the report to arrive. If the report suggests there are similarities in your work, your paper will still fall within the acceptable category as long as it is properly cited. Any external sources that have been used in the process should be acknowledged. Ask your teacher: What is a good plagiarism score for the assignment? For some tasks, having more than 20% of the paper match the other sources is completely acceptable.

How to Reduce High Similarity on Turnitin

What is an acceptable Turnitin score for students who write their papers for the first time? What about postgraduate studies or a Master’s degree? The score will depend on the demands provided to you by your college instructor. The good news is that I discovered some tips to help you reduce the high score showing up on Turnitin and turn the tables so you can proudly demonstrate your original work. A reduced similarity score has many benefits:

  • Showing your dedication to academic integrity and the original author.
  • Avoiding actions that follow intellectual property theft and plagiarism.
  • Maintaining the originality of your paper and enhancing your arguments.

Here are the most effective tactics you can use to achieve the best score on Turnitin and avoid legal persecution if you don’t know the plagiarism percentage allowed in your paper:

    • Reduce the Number of Direct Quotes: The more quotes pop up in your text, the harder it is for the system to draw the line between the original text and copied content. If you write an essay for 2000 words, the approximate number of quotes allowed should not be more than four.
    • Use Several Sources for Your Paper: Never rely on one source to craft your assignment. If you are aware of the assignment instructions and know how much plagiarism is acceptable, you will realize that having more than one external source at your disposal allows you to conduct extensive research and organize your ideas better.
    • Learn How to Rephrase Paragraphs: Paraphrasing is a useful skill when dealing with a similarity score. Based on what I’ve learned as a student, it is an invaluable talent that allows you to maintain your paper’s authenticity and retain the ideas of the original author without quoting them sentence by sentence. You will learn how to use your own voice for the paper and ensure a smooth word flow.
    • Pay Attention to Your References and Citations. If you are doing an in-text citation, don’t forget to include the quotation mark, the author’s name, and the page number to indicate the exact source for your quote. Do your research and proofread the text to avoid any repetitions or unintentional plagiarism in writing.


What percentage of Turnitin is acceptable when delivering a paper you’ve been working on for the past week? After a series of trials and errors, I can finally provide a satisfactory answer: any score that falls within the green band is an excellent one and can be used to improve your grades and earn you a good reputation. You should always strive to achieve a 15% similarity score or lower, depending on your university’s demands for a specific task. Talk with your teacher to know what percentage of plagiarism is allowed and aim for the minimum amount of copied content. While yellow, orange, and red similarity reports are never okay, blue and green reports will prove the originality of your content.


You can employ different tactics to remove a high similarity score on Turnitin, such as reducing the number of quotes, excluding bibliographies and references from the settings, and learning to use citations properly.

Blue and green colors in a color-coded Turnitin report mean your work is mostly plagiarism-free or has the minimum amount of plagiarism, which is an excellent result for students aiming for good grades.

When your similarity report is yellow, orange, or red, this is not a very good sign. A red Turnitin report indicates that nearly every sentence in your essay has been copied without crediting the original.

A reasonable amount of matched text in a Turnitin similarity report shows that you have researched well, using concepts from other authors and interpreting their ideas in a new light. However, you should always give credit to other sources to avoid too much plagiarism.

An acceptable similarity score may vary depending on the university or the requirements for the task. However, anything below 20-15% on Turnitin is usually considered a decent score.