How to Cite a Foreign Language Sources in APA, MLA, or Chicago

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Published August 12, 2020. Updated October 5, 2021.

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Good sources come in all types, sizes, and…languages!

With the increasing popularity of searching for sources on the Internet, it is easier than ever to access sources from all over the world and in different languages. With these kinds of sources, however, it can be difficult to understand how to accurately include them in your citation list.

So, how exactly would you cite a source that was originally published in another language? Below are some helpful tips on how to do so in MLA, APA, and Chicago citation styles.

To create a citation for a source in a foreign language, here are some pieces of information you may need:

  • Author name(s)
  • Title of the work* (you may need the original title, depending on your citation style)
  • Where the work was published
  • Date the work was published

To help with creating citations for sources in a foreign language, we’ve included formulas and  examples for some of the most popular citation styles for the source Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Formula for citing a foreign language source in MLA:

Author Last Name, Author First Name. Title in the Original Language [Translated Title]. Publisher, Year.

MLA format example:

de Saint-Exupéry, Antoine. Le Petit Prince [The Little Prince]. Gallimard, 1943.

MLA in-text citation format:

(Author’s Last Name Page #)

MLA in-text citation example:

(de Saint-Exupéry 6)

*For additional help with MLA citations, checkout this MLA in-text citation example and MLA citation website citing guide.

Formula for citing a foreign language source in APA:

Author Last Name, First Initial. (Year Published). Title in the original language [Translated title]. Place of Publication: Publisher.

APA citation example:

de Saint-Exupéry, A. (1943). Le petit prince [The little prince]. Paris, France: Gallimard.

*If you’re citing many sources, this guide can help you create citations for an APA reference page.

Formula for citing a foreign language source in Chicago:

Author Last Name, First Name. Original Title [Translated Title]. City of Publication: Publisher, Year Published.

Chicago style citation example:

de Saint-Exupéry, Antoine. Le Petit Prince [The Little Prince]. Paris: Gallimard, 1943.


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How do you cite an international source?

International sources include treaties, materials of United Nations, World Trade Organization, and European Union, and various international cases. To cite a source from an international governing body in APA and MLA styles, it is important that you know basic information, such as the name of the organization, the name of the document, and the publication date.

International sources in APA style

In APA references and in-text citations, include the treaty/convention/other agreement’s name, the signing/approval date, and a URL.

In-text citation template and examples:

Narrative:

Name of the Treaty/Convention/Other Agreement (Publication Year) …

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) …

Parenthetical:

(Name of the Treaty/Convention/Other Agreement, Publication Year).

(United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989).

APA reference list entry template and example:

Name of the Treaty/Convention/Other Agreement, Month Day Year, URL

United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, December 12, 2016, https://www.cbd.int/doc/press/2016/pr-2016-12-18-un-bidov-conf-en.pdf

International sources in MLA style

In MLA works-cited-list entries and in-text citations, the format depends on the document and whether the international governing agency or the document title identifies the entry.

In-text citation template and examples:

Citation in prose:

Name of the Governing Agency …

United Nations …

Document Title …

Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change …

Parenthetical:

(Name of the Governing Agency) or (Name of the Document)

(United Nations).

(Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change).

MLA works-cited-list entry templates and examples:

Resolution:

Name of the Governing Agency, Name of the Primary Agency (if applicable). Name of the Document. Document Number (if applicable), Day Month Year. Container/Website Name, URL.

United Nations, General Assembly. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Resolution 217 A, 10 Dec. 1948. United Nations, www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/.

Treaty:

Name of the Treaty. Name of the Governing Agency, Publication Year, URL.

Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. United Nations, 1998, unfccc.int/resource/docs/convkp/kpeng.pdf.

How do I cite a translated quote?

To cite a translated work in APA and MLA styles, it is important that you know basic information, such as the author’s name, the translator’s name, the translated title, the original publication date, the translation’s publication date, and the publisher’s name.

APA in-text citation template and examples:

Note that in APA, references to translated works include two dates: the year of publication of the work in its original language and the year of publication of the translated work.

Separate the years with a slash, and list the earlier year first.

Narrative:

Author Surname (Original Year/Translation Year) …

Freud (1902/1963) …

Parenthetical:

(Author Surname, Original Year/Translation Year).

(Freud, 1902/1963).

APA reference list entry template and example:

Author Surname, F. M. (Publication Year). Title of the book (F. Translator Surname, Trans.). Publisher. (Original work published in Year)

Latour, B. (1993). We have never been modern (C. Porter, Trans.). Harvard University Press. (Original work published in 1943)

MLA works-cited-list entry template and example:

In MLA, the format for the translated work varies depending on whether you want to emphasize the translation or the work itself. When emphasizing the work itself, use the same format you would for a regular publication but add “translated by” followed by the translator’s name.

Template:

Author Surname, First Name Title of the Book. Translated by Name of the Translator, Publisher, Year.

Example:

Latour, B. We Have Never Been Modern. Translated by Catherine Porter, Harvard UP, 1993.

When emphasizing the work as a translation (less commonly), list the translator first followed by the label “translator.” After the work’s title, write “By” followed by the author’s full name.

Template:

Translator Surname, First Name, translator. Title of the Work. By Author First Name Surname, Publisher, Year.

Example:

Porter, Catherine, translator. We Have Never Been Modern. By Bruno Latour, Harvard UP, 1993.