Citing indirect sources according to the APA Style

If you want to refer to a source that you have found in another source, we recommend that you actually look at the original source. You can then just use the regular APA rules  to cite it.

If you cannot find the original source, you should cite it through the source that led you to it. This is called citing an indirect or secondary source.

In the in-text citation, you should include both authors. Note the original source first, followed by “in” or “as cited in” and the source where you found it.

Example: Source to another source

You consult a book written by Swaen in 2014. In this book, Swaen mentions something from a 2003 book by Driessen. You now want to include a point about Driessen’s work in your dissertation, but you cannot find this book yourself. You thus have to refer to it indirectly.

Example: When the more recent author has paraphrased the earlier author

Driessen (in Swaen, 2014) makes use of three methods.

Three possible causes are described (Driessen, in Swaen, 2014).

Example: When the more recent author has quoted the earlier author

Driessen (as cited in Swaen, 2014) describes three methods.

Three possible causes are described (Driessen, as cited in Swaen, 2014).

Note that you only need to include the year (here 2014) of the resource that you actually consulted (here Swaen).

In the reference list, mention only the source that you actually consulted (not the original source that you could not track down). In the above example, this would mean including Swaen’s book (but not Driessen’s).

 Book
APA-formatAuthor Last Name, First Initial. (Year). Book Title (edition). City, State/Country: Publisher.
In the reference listSwaen, B.R.M. (2014). Startup Scribbr (1st ed.). New York, NY: Free Press.
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Bas Swaen

Bas is co-founder of Scribbr. Bas loves to teach and is an experienced thesis writer. He tries to help students with writing clear and easy to comprehend articles about difficult topics.

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