If I write a report and a whole paragraph is based on one source but not cited verbally it seems unnecessary to include the reference after every sentence:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua (source 1). Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat (source 1).

Now I found a Phd thesis that puts the reference after the last dot of the paragraph to indicate that it is based on this very source:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. (source 1)

Is this a common practice? Is it generally understood? What are other ways to add the reference for a whole paragraph?

  • 3
    "Recall the following results from Cicero's De finibus bonorum et malorum (source 1):"
    – JeffE
    Mar 22, 2013 at 18:22
  • If you use the content of (source 1), you can say The following paragraph is mainly based on (source 1):
    – user4511
    Mar 23, 2013 at 5:45
  • 2
    In LaTeX, just wrap the quote inside \begin{quote}...\end{quote}
    – user2768
    Dec 14, 2017 at 10:38
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of What kind of citation is needed for a whole paragraph?
    – padawan
    May 23, 2018 at 14:04

6 Answers 6


Generally it is sufficient to cite each source only once in each place where you refer to material from this source. "Place" may be one sentence, one paragraph, one definition, etc.

If you cite a paragraph verbatim from another source, put it in quotation marks or in a quotation block and add one reference to the source at the end.

If you have a whole paragraph referring to one source but don't actually quote it, it gets a little bit more tricky. You have to make sure that a reader clearly understands that the whole paragraph is based on the source you are citing. A simple citation in parenthesis just added at the end of the last sentence may not be sufficient to make this clear. One way to cite in this case is to write something like "The following argument is based on (source)" at the beginning of the paragraph in question.


This problem is one that I commonly come across. In some disciplines one puts a reference after the last sentence in the paragraph, after the final period. I personally do not like this way of doing it and it may not even be formally correct in most disciplines. Instead I would suggest that you start the paragraph (or paragraphs if appropriate) by simply stating where the material has been sourced in the first sentence of the pragraph(s). Exactly how you formulate this depends highly on the content and what you need to write. It can be something dry such as "The following information is from XXX (1979)" but you can probably see how you can weave in the reference in an introductory sentence or two so that it makes sense and clear that you extracted the information from there.

The main point is of course to make it clear to the reader where the information comes from. Clarily will be more important than nice formulations in this case.


This happens to me often. I have several tips that I use when writing:

  • the placement: it should not be in a section / chapter explaining your work, algorithm, method, findings. Probably, it'll be in Discussion, Related works, Introduction or Conclusion
  • if it deserves a whole paragraph, it deserves a sentence. Some examples:

The proposed method can be compared to the work of [John Doe, 2006]. The work in [1] addresses the problem (...) while the method proposed here (...)

In this chapter we introduce a related problem examined in [1].

The first important step in this direction was made by Doe [1] and here we summarize the most important findings.

  • in general, you are putting some reference in relation to your work. Be precise with expressions referring to each paper like the work proposed here, or the previous results and similar.

  • if you have more than 1 reference to compare with, introduce them one by one, paragraphy by paragraph.. If you mix them, you'll have to cite every sentence or two to avoid the confusion

  • you don't have to cite at the end of each sentence, you can cite at the end of each idea. If you're making a logical conclusion and just add a cite with the concluding sentence, you're giving proper credit.


One common approach is to include the citation in the first sentence, and then use "they" and related words for every subsequent sentence so that the connection between statements and reference is clear.

Smith and Jones (2000) conducted a study on X and Y. They performed X analysis. They found that blah blah blah. They concluded that foo foo foo. Their studies highlight that blah blah blah.


The clearest way to show that the entire paragraph is taken from someone else is to set that paragraph off in some way. The two most common ways are to indent the entire paragraph or set the entire paragraph in italics (or both).

The writing should make it clear that the author is not claiming any part of the paragraph as his/her own work and the example in your question simply does NOT accomplish that. The sample could mean that the last sentence is cited and the rest is not, meaning the author is claiming the first sentence is actually his/her own.

It is quite messy to cite each sentence individually and it does not help readability so, better to indent/italicize the entire paragraph.

  • 1
    Sorry, I didn't refer to cite verbally but to write a paragraph reflecting the knowledge taken from only one source. I updated my question to clarify
    – Stockfisch
    Mar 22, 2013 at 15:06
  • 5
    I do not agree with putting it in italic or indenting it. That would be fine, in my opinion, if it was taken word for word from somebody else. But, the way I understand it it's just a paragraph based on the paper [Source 1].
    – penelope
    Mar 23, 2013 at 12:48

The problem doesn't seem to me to be one of how to format a citation for a full paragraph. Instead, the problem is that you have a lengthy paragraph that draws upon one source for many assertions (claims or statements something is/is not so) or facts. This starts to approach a plagiaristic form of writing.

Another problem is that you are basing your entire paragraph on a sole source, and trusting that it is right (or, maybe, the writer simply doesn't care - I see that a lot with the writing of students who just want to get an assignment cranked out). If you are writing a thesis or dissertation, the care and concern for veracity of the information should, I hope, be greater.

Try including more of your own thoughts, reasoning, or explanatory writing. If the paragraph introduces explanatory statements or other work by you, then breaking up the flow with the appropriate in-text citation from the single source isn't an issue, as it is less frequent than once every sentence. Or, find other sources that support or amplify the material in the paragraph, add in the necessary associated verbiage, and cite them too.

  • What if I have a paragraph in e.g. a background section, where I'm summarising an earlier work that is a primary inspiration for my own work that the reader may not already understand, but is essential to understanding the rest of the paper? May 26, 2022 at 16:58

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