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How to Cite Work in a Foreign Language in APA


When citing works originally published in a foreign language, you may be unsure how to properly note them in your reference list. American Psychological Association (APA) style allows you reference foreign language sources with a minimum of additional information.

Sources in a Foreign Language

When you are referencing a work written in a foreign language, the title is written in its native language, followed by the translation of the title in brackets. The basic format of APA is retained, as follows:

Author Lastname, First Initial(s). (Date Published). Work title in native language [Translation in brackets]. Publisher location: Publisher.

For example,

Foucault, M. (1993). Surveiller et punir: Naissance de la prison [Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison]. Cambridge, MA: Schoenhof's Foreign Books.

While titles cited in APA in English only capitalize the first letter, note that other languages have alternate capitalization rules that should be used in the citation, according to the APA Style blog. For example, German capitalizes all nouns.

Non-Latin Scripts

If you are citing a work whose title or author is given in a non-Latin script, such as Chinese, Greek or Hindi, the script should be transliterated -- converted into an equivalent name using Latin script. The translation should still be given in brackets after the title. For example,

Rong, J. (2004). Lang tuteng [Wolf totem]. Wuhan, China: Changjiang Literature and Arts Publishing House.

If you are unsure how to transliterate a title or name, consult with your teacher or an expert in the language; don't guess at it yourself.

Works in Translation

To cite a work in translation, the translator or translators' name(s) are included in a parenthetical after the title of the work, with the note "Trans." The original date of publication is included after the publisher's information. For example,

Bataille, G. (1987). Story of the eye (J. Neugroschel, Trans.). San Francisco, CA: City Lights Books.

About the Author

Jon Zamboni began writing professionally in 2010. He has previously written for The Spiritual Herald, an urban health care and religious issues newspaper based in New York City, and online music magazine eBurban. Zamboni has a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies from Wesleyan University.

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