Citing an Author That Was Cited in Another Article (Indirect Source)

How to cite an indirect source

The situation: You are reading an article by an author named Johnson that was written in 2019. Inside Johnson’s work, you find the following sentence:

… Students who have online degrees may face discrimination in job interviews (Riley, 2018). …

You have decided that you want to paraphrase Riley’s idea for your essay. In other words, you want to cite an indirect source. So who do you cite, Johnson or Riley? And how do you cite them?

Indirect Sources in APA Style: Use ‘as cited in’

In APA style (7th ed.), your paraphrase and in-text citation would look something like this:

  • … Graduates of online degrees may have difficulty passing interviews (Riley, 2018, as cited in Johnson, 2019).
  • … According to Riley (2018, as cited in Johnson, 2019), online degree holders may be at a disadvantage in job interviews. …

Note: The year of the original author (2018) is optional, but include it if you have it.

In the Reference page, you should only include Johnson’s article. Why? You have never read Riley’s article (you have only read one idea from it); therefore, it would be misleading to add it as a reference to your own work.

Indirect Sources in MLA Style: Use ‘qtd. in’

Whether you are quoting or paraphrasing, use ‘qtd. in’ in MLA style (8th ed.) to cite an indirect source. For example:

  • … Graduates of online degrees may have difficulty passing interviews (Riley qtd. in Johnson, 1).
  • … According to Riley (qtd in Johnson, 1), online degree holders may be at a disadvantage in job interviews. …

(Note: “1” is the (fictional) page number)

Again, in your Works Cited, you would include Johnson’s article only because that is the article you have read.

Warning: Avoid Citing Indirect Sources Whenever Possible (Read the Original)

Using the above strategies is technically correct, but it may indicate laziness. If you are reading an article that cites ‘Riley, 2018’, this means that you should have all the information about Riley’s article (Title, Journal Name, Volume, Pages, URL/DOI) in the References/Works Cited page of the text you are reading. A hardworking student would use this Reference/Works Cited information to find Riley’s article and read the original source.

Nevertheless, it may be difficult to access the original source sometimes. In such cases, please use ‘as cited in’ for APA or ‘qtd. in’ for MLA to cite indirect sources.

Please see the below sources for extra information.

– Written by Matthew Barton of


(Note: In-text citations were not given above to avoid confusing readers)

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