I am wondering about the following: Let's say I wish to include two direct quotations from a primary source that consists of four sentences:

  • Sentence A
  • Sentence B
  • Sentence C
  • Sentence D

However, for whatever reason, in a paragraph, I wish to quote sentence c first and then quote sentence a and put a footnote thereafter to indicate where the two quotations come from. Do I need to add an explanation then in the footnote that the two quotations do not appear in this order in the original text? I have never heard of this and also have not seen this in the work of historians. However, I just came across this essay on plagiarism by Peter Charles Hoffer, which states the following:

The order of the passages in the original may be altered by the author of the new work for literary or argumentative purposes, so long as the reference notes indicate the order of the passages in the original.

Is this just his opinion or is it a common rule that, for some reason, I have never come across before? And, if yes, would not adding such a note in a footnote be considered a big problem?

/edit: And I would think if one just paraphrases/summarises a source, one certainly would not need to comment on what order one paraphrases/summarises the contents of the cited source in.


1 Answer 1


You can follow my advice for your other question:

Make sure your quotations are accurate, and don't give a misleading impression about what the original person said, and make sure your own writing around the quotation sounds natural and makes sense.

And that is probably all the advice you need to follow. Also trust your own judgment a bit more. If other historians don't do this, it is probably not essential for you to do it.

  • Thanks. I guess I am wondering because the essay was published on the AHA website. And I cant say with 100 percent certainty that other historians don't do this. I just can't recall ever seeing it I'm someone else's footnotes. And the fact that it is in an essay about plagiarism makes it even more scary.
    – IbnZubeira
    May 20, 2023 at 22:25
  • Or maybe there is some abbreviation etc to indicate this that I somehow overlooked.
    – IbnZubeira
    May 20, 2023 at 22:40
  • Finally, I would think that all this is not necessary for sure if one just summarises a source (see my edit of the original question )
    – IbnZubeira
    May 20, 2023 at 23:18

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