APA Secondary Citation (indirect citation)

How do you cite a source that you found in another source?

Secondary sources refer to situations where you use information from a source that you have not read, but you’ve found in another source.

If you cannot find the original primary source, you should cite it through the secondary source that led you to it. This is called citing an indirect or secondary source. Therefore, secondary sources describe information originally presented from a primary source.

If you need to cite a source within a source, follow the guidelines from APA 7, Section 8.6.

Your in-text citation should include both authors: the author(s) of the original primary source and the author(s) of the secondary source:

Follow these instructions when citing a secondary source APA Style:

In text, name the primary source first, and then give the in-text citation for the secondary source: (“as cited in…, year”).

APA Secondary Citation Example:

  • Crane and Taylors’s study (as cited in Lindsay & Norman, 2013) showed that ….
  • … as some studies show (Crane & Taylors, as cited in Lindsay & Norman, 2013).

Reference List Entry:

  • Lindsay, P. H., & Norman, D. A. (2013). Human information processing: An introduction to psychology. Academic press.

Note: Only list the secondary source (i.e. the one you have read) in the reference page.

APA (see APA, section 6.17, p. 178;) suggests that secondary sources should be used sparingly, especially when the full-text of the original source is available.

However, there are instances in which the primary source is unavailable:

  • The primary source is out of print.
  • Unpublished or archived sources.
  • Unavailable through the usual sources.
  • Not available in English.


  • You should always try to read and cite the original work (the primary source). If it is not possible to do this, you have to cite the original as contained in the secondary source.
  • The words “as cited in” in the parenthetical reference indicate you have not read the original research. Only include the year of the secondary source in your text.
  • In your reference list you should provide the details of the secondary source (the source you read).

Olivia Guy-Evans

BSc (Hons), Psychology, MSc, Psychology of Education

Associate Editor for Simply Psychology

Olivia Guy-Evans is a writer and associate editor for Simply Psychology. She has previously worked in healthcare and educational sectors.

Saul Mcleod, PhD

Educator, Researcher

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester

Saul Mcleod, Ph.D., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years experience of working in further and higher education.