Answered By: Laura Wheatley
Last Updated: Jul 23, 2020     Views: 3331

According to the MLA Handbook (3.5), “[W]hen an entire paragraph is based on material from a single source,” you might “define a source in the text at the start” (125). If you continue to cite the same source in subsequent paragraphs and no other source intervenes, you do not need to identify the source again unless ambiguity would result.

The handbook provides techniques for making citations more concise when a source is used more than once in succession. But it notes that you should “[a]lways give your citations in full . . . if these techniques would create ambiguity about your sources” (124). Thus, if you need to make clear that a paraphrase is on the same page as a quotation in a previous sentence, repeat the page number in parentheses after the paraphrase, as shown in the following example:

Hilma af Klint’s art explores “the invisible relationships that shape our world” (Müller-Westermann 7). This focus is not surprising, given that af Klint began painting at the end of the nineteenth century, when electromagnetic waves and X-rays were discovered (7).

A citation should appear only after the final sentence of a paraphrase. If, however, it will be unclear to your reader where your source’s idea begins, include the author of the source in your prose rather than in a parenthetical citation.

For example, the following is a paraphrase from an essay by Naomi S. Baron:

Literacy consists of both reading and writing. The writing might take the form of marking up a text or making notes about it (Baron 194).

Here your reader might think that the first sentence is your idea and that Baron’s idea begins in the second sentence. For clarity, you might revise as follows:

Naomi S. Baron argues that literacy consists of both reading and writing. The writing might take the form of marking up a text or making notes about it (194).

"Ask the MLA." The MLA Style Center: Writing Resources from the Modern Language Association,

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