Citation Guide: Secondary Source APA

Citing a secondary source in a report or research work is something that most students struggle with. A secondary source is one that a primary or original source refers to or quotes directly from so this is understandable. It can even be more difficult especially if the student has to cite the secondary source APA (American Psychological Association) style. If you are one of such students, you do not have to fret. In this article, you will learn how to cite secondary source APA style.

How to Cite Secondary Sources APA Style

Write out the Name of the Author

When citing secondary sources APA style, the first thing to do is write out the author’s name. Start by writing out the author’s surname, followed by a comma, then the initials of his first and middle names, and end each with a full stop.

For example, “McDental, T. D.

Write out the Year of Publication

When doing a secondary citation APA style, after writing the name, write out the year of publication. Now, remember, there are two years of publication. One is for the primary source of publication while the other is for the secondary source. Make sure the one you are citing is for the secondary source. To do this, simply open a parenthesis, write the year, close parenthesis and add a full stop.

For example, “McDental, T. D. (2021).

Write out the Title of the Publication

Next in citing a secondary source APA style is to write out the title of the publication in italics. To do this, start the first word with a capital letter and then capitalize any other proper noun that is available in the publication title. Now some secondary sources may have subtitles attached to them. If any such exists in yours, make sure you write it out as well. However, separate the subtitle from your title by adding a colon and then put a full stop at the end of the subtitle. Also, make sure the first word of the subtitle starts with a capital letter.

For example, “McDental, T. D. (2021). Citing A Publication

For an example of those that have subtitles, “McDental, T. D. (2021). Citing a Publication: APA citation secondary source.”

Include the Details of the Publication

In an APA secondary citation, you have to include the details of the publication after you have written out the title. These include the name and where the source was published. To do this, simply write out the location of the publication and then follow it with a colon. If the source that you are citing was one published in the United States, you have to include both the city and state of publication. After placing the colon, write out the name of the publishing company. Lastly, put a full-stop at the end of the publishing company.

For example, “McDental, T. D. (2021). Citing a Publication. Ottawa: Canadian Book Publications.

Let the Reader Know that You are Citing a Secondary Source

So far, your secondary source citation APA style has followed the same format as a primary source citation. Thus, you have to let the reader know the difference between the primary source and the secondary source. To do this, simply write the phrase “as cited in” before you write the name of the author and the year of publication of your secondary source. This phrase also lets the reader know that you did not read the secondary source but that you are referring to what your primary source cited. Also, in the in-text citation, the only name you will need to write out is the author’s surname. Make sure you put this information in parentheses.

For example, “(as cited in McDental, 2021)

Make Reference to the Primary Source

In your in-text APA citing secondary sources, make sure you refer to the primary source. To do this, first, write out the author’s surname and the year of publication of your primary source. Next, open a parenthesis, write out the phrase “as cited in”, the author’s surname of the secondary source, and the year of publication.

For example, “Knowles’ 2021 study (as cited in McDental, 2021) discussed extensively the process of citing a publication.

Always Make Sure to Write out the Primary and Secondary Sources

Sometimes, no matter how you write, you may not have the right way of writing out the author’s name of the primary source. This happens especially when you continually reference the source. However, you still have to find a way to let your reader know the source of your text. To do this, first, open parenthesis, then write out the author’s name and year of publication of the primary source, separated by commas. Next, write out your phrase “as cited in” and then the author’s name and year of publication of your secondary source.

For example, “(Knowles’ 2021, as cited in McDental, 2021)


Now you know how to cite a secondary source APA style.

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