The title is the question: can you plagiarize yourself within the same document? For example within a book of thousand pages, do you have to reference ideas from page 50 when you use them on page 950?

  • 3
    Is it a book containing multiple chapters, or a selection of articles/essays published as a collection in book-form? I assume you mean the former, but this is could be a critical distinction from a plagiarism/citation perspective so worth clarifying.
    – Ian_Fin
    Nov 9, 2016 at 10:02
  • I've always dealt with this by using informal reference language, such as "As I previously established, P implies Q in hyperbolic space where N<5, so we can now process the data in Table A as follows to conclude that the moon is composed of at least 40% green cheese...." Oct 30, 2017 at 17:54

2 Answers 2


The short answer is: No, it is not (self-)plagiarism because it is the same book.

The longer answer is that a reader may want to know more about the subject when reading only the chapter on page 950. It would be highly beneficial for him/her to have a reference to the earlier section on page 50 where more information or more detail about the subject is given.

Finally, you should consider whether it is really necessary to literally repeat yourself within the same book (hint: probably not). This could be an indication of a sub-optimal structure of the book, or maybe providing a short summary and referring to the earlier section for more details is enough.


If the part of concern contains any cited materials, when reused it is better to cite the sources again in case readers had skipped the previous chapter.

If the part of concern is your own words, then for readers' convenience it is better to reference the chapter, section, or page number for easy cross-referencing.

In my opinion, self-plagiaring is more of a misnomer. Plagiarizing is when one presents others' work as if it is his/her own. You cannot steal your own idea. One of the actual concerns is while referring to one's own work, the author could have violated copyright of the publisher that published the work. Since you are referring to another part in the same piece of work, I don't think the copyright violation described here is likely. The other, as one of the commentators pointed out, could be project a false impression on one's productivity.

  • 5
    What people often mean by self-plagiarising is passing off one's old work as something new -- which again wouldn't apply one a single publication.
    – Chris H
    Nov 9, 2016 at 13:35
  • @davidricherby, thanks, that was my thought but perhaps the wording was too strong. I have revised my answer Nov 9, 2016 at 15:38
  • 1
    OK but self-plagiarism is about more than just copyright violation. If somebody pads their CV by publishing several papers that have very similar content then they look like a more productive academic than they really are. That gives them an unfair advantage in the job market, grant applications, promotions and so on. Nov 9, 2016 at 15:59
  • @DavidRicherby, thanks! I added this point to my answer as well. Nov 9, 2016 at 16:05

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