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Citing indirect sources: MLA (8th ed.) citation guide

This guide is based on the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 8th ed. and provides selected citation examples for common types of sources. For more detailed information please consult the print version of the handbook available at the SFU Library.

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The 8th edition of the MLA Handbook does not list specific rules on how to cite a DVD, a book, a journal article, etc., but instead outlines a universal set of general guidelines of citation and documentation that can be applied to any source type, including indirect sources. These are the guidelines we followed to develop the following examples for you.

Indirect sources

Parenthetical (in-text)

As Marcel Proust reminisced: "There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those . . . we spent with a favourite book (qtd. in Wolf, 6).1

Works cited

Wolf, Maryanne. Proust and the Squid: The Story of the Reading Brain. Harper, 2007.


Whenever possible, take material from the original source, rather than citing an indirect source (p. 124, 3.4)

If the original source is not available, cite the indirect (secondary) source, i.e. the one you have in hand ("Wolf")

"qtd." stands for "quoted."

You may document the original source ("Proust") in a footnote; provide a number for a footnote (p. 124, 3.4), e.g.:  1See Marcel Proust, On Reading (New York: Macmillan, 1971), 3, qtd. in Wolf, 6.

If you create a footnote for the original source, you will also need to create an entry for the original source in the list of Works Cited.