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Teaching Tools

Turnitin Similarity

On October 18, Turnitin launched its updated Similarity Report. Turnitin promises that the new report will provide “quicker and more insightful integrity checks” so instructors can spend more time “providing meaningful feedback and effectively addressing emerging challenges” with students.

What is Turnitin Similarity?

Turnitin Similarity is UTK’s supported similarity checker tool for files submitted through Online@UT (Canvas) assignments. The tool works by comparing the text in file submissions to Turnitin’s database of previously submitted papers, published research papers, and numerous internet resources. A “similarity report” is then produced highlighting areas of the paper that match content in Turnitin’s database.


  • Automatic submission comparison to an online database of original content.
    • The database includes billions of web pages: both current and archived content from the Internet, a repository of works students have submitted to Turnitin in the past, and scholarly publications, which comprises thousands of periodicals, journals, and publications.
  • Offers a similarity score revealing the percentage of a paper that matches content in Turnitin’s database.
  • Provides educators with all the information needed to make the right judgment calls, including when and how to create a “teachable moment” and deliver critical instruction that addresses potential skill deficits.

Get Started


View the Similarity Report

As of 18 Oct 2023 –
Learn about the new enhanced Similarity Report
View the new Similarity Report

Turnitin Instructor Account

Instructors who use Turnitin for text matching their students’ work submitted through Online@UT (Canvas) may also be interested in a Turnitin Instructor Account. A Turnitin Instructor Account allows instructors to submit documents directly to Turnitin, apart from Canvas and without requiring a student to submit their work via a Canvas Assignment.

Using direct submissions within their Turnitin Instructor Account, instructors can upload documents that have not previously been added to Turnitin, such as those that students have emailed instructors directly rather than submitting them through Canvas. The Turnitin Similarity Originality Report is then generated for instructor reference.

Instructors who would like a Turnitin Instructor Account can request one by submitting an OIT HelpDesk support request.

Interpret the Similarity Report

Turnitin checks a user’s work against its extensive database. If instances are found where a user’s writing is similar to or matches against a source this will be flagged for review in the match overview.

The color of the report icon indicates the similarity score of the paper, based on the amount of matching or similar text that was uncovered. The percentage range is 0% to 100%. The possible similarity ranges are:

  • Light blue: 0% matching text
  • Dark blue: 1-24% matching text
  • Yellow: 25-49% matching text
  • Orange: 50-74% matching text
  • Red: 75-100% matching text

A high similarity score does not always suggest that a piece of writing has been plagiarized, just as a low similarity score does not always indicate that no plagiarism has occurred.

Supported File Types

The following file types are compatible with Similarity Report:

  • Microsoft Word (DOC, DOCX)
  • Corel WordPerfect (WPD)
  • Adobe Acrobat PDF
  • Rich text (RTF)
  • Plain text (TXT)
  • Hangul Word Processor (HWP)
  • PostScript (PS)
  • Microsoft Excel (XLS, XLSX)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint (PPTX, PPT, PPSX, PPS)

View Turnitin and Canvas Supported File Types for more information.