Friday, September 6, 2013

Citing a Single Source Within a Paragraph

I was recently prompted with a question regarding how to cite a single source within a paragraph: "How do you best cite all the material in a paragraph, when it is from a single source?" I have been seeing this question (and resulting issue) more and more with the citation being placed at the end of the paragraph, without any context. Unfortunately, this is not the most appropriate or correct manner to provide the citation as it indicates the source is only applicable to the final sentence (University of Washington, PYSWC, 2010).

Instead, I suggest creating an introduction to the paragraph that indicates you will be referring to the same (i.e., single) source all through the paragraph (University of Washington, PYSWC, 2010, p.5). If you start the paragraph with the identification that you will be paraphrasing from a single source, it will be unnecessary to provide subsequent citations within that paragraph (Eastern Illinois University, n.d., p.3). Keep in mind that with this method you will need to close the paragraph with the relevant citation and re-introduce it for every new paragraph the material is used in (Eastern Illinois University, n.d., p. 3). The result will be a consistent, easier to read style of writing that is dependent on the use of a single citation.

The acceptable alternatives to this method are:
  1. Paraphrase the material down into a single sentence with subsequent citation (McAdoo, 2011)
  2. Provide a citation reference at the end of each applicable sentence (McAdoo, 2011)
  3. Use parenthetical citation, where the author and year are identified in the first sentence and only the author appears in subsequent references in the paragraph (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Academic Support Center, n.d.). 
Whichever method you plan to use, focus on maintaining consistency throughout your paper or article. I suggest that you avoid switching between methods unnecessarily or your writing may appear awkward or confusing to the readers. For my own writing, I tend to cite everything at the individual sentence level and then use the final sentence in the paragraph to state my interpretation of the presented, paraphrased, quoted, and cited material.

Eastern Illinois University. (n.d.). American Psychological Association (APA) guide. Charleston, IL: Author. Retrieved from

McAdoo, T. (2011, March 18). Citing paraphrased work in APA style [ Web log post]. Retrieved from

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Academic Support Center. (n.d.). APA style citations. Chicago, IL: Author. Retrieved from

University of Washington, Psychology Writing Center. (2010). APA style citations & references: A guide for psychology undergraduates. Seattle, WA: Author. Retrieved from