If I have taken an idea or quote from somewhere I will of course reference it properly.
However my question is every time I mention someone e.g 'Joe Bloggs said..." do I need to reference every time I mention that person if I have referenced him at least once?

Or if I say 'this proof is given by xyz book' if I have ready referenced xyz book do I need to reference it every-time I mention the name of the book?

  • Short answer: Yes. Longer answer: You will have been asked to use a particular citation format, or to choose one. Look it up and follow their rules.
    – Bob Brown
    Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 20:10
  • 2
    @BobBrown With respect, answers should not be posted in comments, since it dilutes the function of both.
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 0:45

2 Answers 2


In short: Yes. For every quote or idea that is not your own, this must be made clear to the reader. However, depending on the citation style, this does not always need to be in the form of “Joe Bloggs said” (which I have never seen in academic literature anyway), but may, e.g., just happen via a foot- or endnote.

If you are intensively quoting somebody or following another work, it may be feasible to have one sentence explaining to what a citation applies:

The following overview of discombobulation techniques is based on Bloggs et al. (1987).

Unless noted otherwise, all quotes in this section are from Bloggs et al. (1987). [this requires that quotes are visible as such]

This meets the above requirement.

  • Ok so if I say 'xyz said ..' I do not need to produce a footnote?
    – user232183
    Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 20:09
  • I would guess that this depends on the conventions of your field. But even then you would have to have a proper reference somewhere, so using a footnote would be the least obstrusive way anyway. Moreover, I never encountered “XYZ said” or something even vaguely similar in academic literature. Are you sure that you want to use it?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 20:14
  • I am not using that specifically but I am saying stuff like 'this was presented to us by ...' what about if mentioning someone, would you also have to cite by their name ?
    – user232183
    Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 20:47
  • I do not see a big difference between “this was presented to us by X” and “X said”: They cannot replace a proper citation. Otherwise it would be difficult to confirm your citation or even to the correct person.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 21:42

I'm not sure I completely agree. Citations should indicate which ideas are not yours and provide pointers to the original sources of those ideas and one should strive to make sure they do that. However, they're not a magic incantation that needs to accompany every non-original thought and walls of citations are often difficult to read.

Consider a paragraph like this*:

Johns, Jacobs, Jingleheimer, and Schmidt (2015, p. 15) state that "the weather is going to be good today", a claim supported by several other experts as well. (Jones, 2015; Xu, 2015b p. 9). However, we argue claims like "the weather is going to be good today" are meaningless in New England, where the conditions change rapidly and unexpectedly. Relying on a claim about how the 'weather is going to be today' for the entire day may cause the listener all sorts of discomfort.

Repeating the entire 50-character citation** three times in three sentences would not add much value. The phrasing and punctuation clearly indicate what Jones and colleagues thought and, at the first mention, the citation is right there if the reader wants to follow up on it. However, there are two important caveats.

Books--and even papers--aren't necessarily read from beginning to end. To ensure that the goals of the citation are achieved, you need to ensure that anyone reading the uncited or "informally-cited" parts encounters the citation too. People are unlikely to pluck a sentence from the middle of a paragraph, but they might skip from section to section or paragraph to paragraph, so the citation should be repeated anew in each section/paragraph/figure legend. You may have a bit more latitude if the text is clearly a critique of one specific work: if the document is entitled "A critique of 'X, Y, and Z, 1995'", don't pepper every other sentence with the full citation***.

Citing something for one fact/idea/quote also doesn't "absolve" you of the need to cite them for a second fact/idea/quote, even from the same document. The reader may not know that Johns and colleagues also made predictions about the stock market and the fifth race at Belmont.

In summary, make sure that it's clear which ideas are your own and which are borrowed, and indicate where the borrowed ideas may be found. Once you've done that, make the text as readable as you can.

* Example cribbed from a now-closed question on the same topic.

** Some citation styles do have a "short form" for subsequent mentions of the same work. That certainly helps here too.

*** Though you may want to be more liberal if the repeated citations include useful information (e.g., a page number).

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