How to Cite Secondary Sources in APA Format

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A secondary source is a reference that quotes or paraphrases ideas and information from another source. In the text of your paper, you should mention the original source in the sentence, followed by a parenthetical citation with the secondary source's information. However, the reference list needs to include only the secondary source, not the primary source. American Psychological Association guidelines recommend keeping secondary citations to a minimum; if possible, find the primary source and cite that instead.

Reference List and In-Text Citations

On the list of references, a secondary source should be treated like any other source. However, within the body of your text, you should mention the name of the original source in a signal phrase. At the end of the sentence, place a parenthetical citation with the secondary source's information, including the author's name(s), date of publication and page on which the quoted material appears. For example:

In his writing on the caste system, Naipaul suggests that an individual's perceived social nonexistence might function as a real, tangible nonexistence (as cited in Douglas, 2002, 154).


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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