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Quick Questions: Sources within Sources (Sourception?) April 19, 2012

Part of our work at the Writing Center includes responding to “Quick Questions” asked by writers from within and beyond the DePaul community. By posting the questions from writers and answers crafted by our tutors,  we hope you just might discover the answer to a question you have always wanted (or never thought) to ask!


How do you cite a source within a source? I found info in an online article that had info from another article and was unsure if I only cited where they got the info from or if I site both sources. Ex An online articles that uses a quote from a USA today article


Hi —-,

Thank you for submitting your question to the UCWbL’s Quick Question service. All citation styles encourage the avoidance of using indirect citations (citations through a secondary source), so if you can find the original article and cite it directly, try to do so. That said, sometimes citing a source within a source is inescapable if the target source is not accessible or if using a quote from a secondary source serves some rhetorical or analytical purpose.

Each citation style asks for a different approach to citing from a secondary source, but the idea is essentially the same: make sure the original author is somehow credited. This means that in-text citations from secondary sources should include the name of the author of the primary source as well as a variation of the MLA’s phrase “qtd. in (‘quoted in’) before the indirect source you cite in your parenthetical reference” (MLA Style, sec. 6.4.7). Of course, be mindful of the citation style you are using—APA  uses “as cited in” and Chicago Turabian spells out “quoted in”—even though the approaches of each style to this situation are generally the same.


MLA Style encourages the use of the abbreviation “qtd. in (‘quoted in’) before the indirect source you cite in your parenthetical reference” (qtd. in Tutor, 1).

Typically, you will only include the secondary source in your reference list, although Chicago asks that writers also include the primary source as referenced by the secondary source (Turabian, sec. 17.10).

For more information, you can access the citation style guides I’ve referenced here at your public library or follow the links included below. Thank you again for your interest in our Quick Question service. I hope that this explanation of citing sources within sources was helpful to you! As always, if you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Writing Center.

Additional Resources:

Williams College Library on MLA Style: http://library.williams.edu/citing/styles/mla.php

Purdue OWL on APA Style:


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