Last Updated: 09 Jan, 2019     Views: 21628

So, you have a book/article/etc by Brown, and he has cited a work by Smith.  You want to use that information, but who do you cite?

If you are just paraphrasing the information, and you don't need to mention the original author, you can just cite the work you have in front of you without worrying about the original author.

However, if you actually want to cite the original author (because you are drawing attention to the fact that they said it, or because it's a direct quote), then you would use a secondary citation.

In text, you say:

Smith (as cited in Brown, 2009) noted that "..." (p. 6).


It was noted that "..." (Smith, as cited in Brown, 2009, p. 6).

In the reference list you only mention Brown's work (because you only reference what you actually read).

Remember, you don't have to use a secondary citation for every piece of information your author got from another source - you only need to use a secondary citation if you are using Smith's exact words, or referring to her work or theories, but you have only read Brown's work (where he cited her).

The APA LibGuide has more information on this under the ‘What if. . . ?’ tab.

Comments (4)

  1. How to I cite direct quotes from a speech document not written by the speaker
    by Jolene on 22 Apr, 2019.
  2. Hi, Jolene,

    In APA, you don't cite live speeches, you cite the work that contains the speech (or the transcript). So if you found the transcript on a webpage, and you know who wrote the speech (and you know it wasn't the person who delivered the speech), you would cite it as a web page, but use the speech writer as your author. You may include [Speech written for That Person] after the title of the speech, if you feel it needs clarification.

    For example:

    Smith, J. (2019). This is just where we came in [Speech written for Harry Brown]. Retrieved from

    In text, you would write something like this:

    In a speech delivered by Harry Brown it was suggested that we are all responsible for fixing problems even if we were not responsible for creating them (Smith, 2019).

    Similary, if you found the speach on YouTube, you would cite the YouTube clip as per normal and use your text to clarify who was speaking and/or who the speech writer was.

    Actual live speeches are treated as personal communication, if your only source was attending the speech yourself.
    by Sharon Bryan on 26 Apr, 2019.
  3. Can I use this method for a website citation? The secondary author was citing the original author in his article.
    by Student on 30 Apr, 2019.
  4. You use secondary citations for any instance in which you didn't see the work you are citing directly, but read it via a citation in another source. So it's the same for websites as it is in books and journal articles.

    However, this is only true when the person who is being quoted was *cited* by the work that you have in front of you. That is, Brown published a work which was cited by Smith, and you are citing Brown as cited by Smith. If you are citing an interview (as in, Smith spoke to Brown, and you are referring to something Brown said to Smith) then you would simply make it clear who is speaking, and cite the work as normal, as this is not a secondary citation but original work/research by the author.

    For example:

    Harry Brown pointed out that this has caused confusion in the past (Smith, 2018).
    by Sharon Bryan on 15 May, 2019.

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