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Skidmore College
The Skidmore Guide to Writing

Quotations -- When to Cite

You must clearly document the source of the ideas and the words in your writing, but you don't want to clutter your papers with endless interruptions. Some students mistakenly believe that a citation must follow every sentence that refers to material from a source. in the footnote/endnote citation format, many students dutifully note each sentence In a paragraph and write page after page of ibid.'s. Clearly, such repetition is not needed to indicate your debt to a particular source. If a long paragraph is devoted to summarizing source material, one citation is sufficient as long as you show clearly that the material comes from the source and not from you.

  • When only one sentence cites a source, place the citation at the end of that sentence. By writing carefully, you can distinguish your own ideas from those that come from sources:

     According to Alvin Toffler, in order to save the "nuclear family" in America, we would have to "forcibly drive women back into the kitchen" and prohibit the use of contraception (Wave 210-11). Needless to say, most women in our society - not to mention a good many men - would oppose such reactionary measures.

     Our current energy supply, still mainly based as it is on fossil fuels and nuclear power, is consumable and centralized; it's a profitable commodity to sell and control. Investors don't want to promote energy sources like wind and solar power; they can't make huge profits or maintain control with such decentralized and renewable resources (Toffler, Wave 132-38).

  • When you clearly indicate indebtedness to a source, one citation can suffice for an entire paragraph of summary:

     According to Toffler, a great many influences in the United States during the late seventies encouraged the development of various family configurations other than the nuclear family. An increasing number of women became more interested in working outside the home at the same time that economic circumstances were making a second paycheck a necessity rather than a luxury. Since the invention of the birth-control pill, women were now as sexually liberated as men, which put pressure on traditional family relationships. Many adults openly chose not to have children at all. Indeed, given these changing attitudes toward the family, if we wanted to "save" the nuclear family, Toffler argues, we would now have to turn back the clock in a number of ways: forcing women to return to being housewives and mothers, banning contraception, cutting the wages available to young families and even cutting the entire standard of living to discourage single people from trying to get by on their own (Wave 208-25). 

Click here to read more about punctuation with quotations.