In today’s digital world, the concept of research has evolved from paper articles, publications, magazines, and journals to include electronically stored material. One of these e-materials includes videos on a streaming service like YouTube.
YouTube videos are largely starting to become acceptable as research material, due to the vital information and details that many YouTube channels share. As with every research work, accurately referencing your sources helps to present your work as original and credible, giving you an edge over others in the field.
Thankfully, the different referencing bodies, APA, Chicago Style, MLA, and others are aware of the changing times and have made it possible for researchers to cite YouTube videos when they reference them in their work.
We’ll be sharing a step-by-step process on how to get this done in the sections that follow. Pay attention to the guidelines and descriptive images to get a clear idea of how to cite a YouTube video accurately in any format you prefer.
Step-by-Step Guide Detailing How to Cite a YouTube Video
Citing online videos like the ones found on YouTube has proved challenging for many students and researchers in the past. Why?
- Citing a streaming video in a research publication is a fairly recent update to the academic world.
- Researchers are usually not sure which information should be included in the citation, or where they can find this information.
All of this detail is what we will cover in the steps below. Note that these details are also applicable for Vimeo videos, and you can use the same format when listing citations.
A side note for YouTube creators:
Usually, researchers prefer to cite content from a YouTube channel that is credible. This means the channel has a considerable number of subscribers and fans that engage with its content and is well-known for sharing accurate information in your YouTube videos.
If you’re a YouTube content creator that wants their work cited in a research paper, you must focus on growing your subscribers to stand out on the website. Consistently publishing quality content and buying YouTube services to boost engagement increases your chances of becoming a trusted YouTube source.
Now, without further ado, let’s get into the necessary steps to cite a YouTube video.
Step 1: Gather the Vital Pieces of Citation Information + Where to Find Them
There are a few crucial pieces of information that every citation needs to include in order to be considered properly cited. While they may appear in different orders depending on the style guide, they are all necessary in works cited.
The citation information we refer to above includes:
- The video’s title
- Website name or title (YouTube, Vimeo, etc)
- The video’s creator: Their full name, or the name of the company that uploaded the video
- Date posted (this includes the month, day, and publication year)
- Length of the video
- YouTube account that published the video (their channel name)
- The Video URL
All the above information are not difficult to find; any properly uploaded video on YouTube contains all you need. Check out the screenshot of the YouTube video below to see where to find citation information.
Step 2: Choose Your Preferred Style or Format for YouTube Citations
Referencing styles vary depending on the academic institution or publication where the research will be submitted. The style guidelines contained in the APA publication manual are not the same as the ones in the MLA handbook, so it’s important to distinguish which style you need.
To know which referencing style to choose, find out what your research organization or institution uses and then follow the basic format below to cite a YouTube video in your work.
How to Cite a YouTube video in APA Style
There are a couple of things to note when citing a video in APA format. In the APA format, the user who uploaded the video comes in the author position to make it easy for the reader of the research work to find the video.
This is because the author and the uploader are not usually the same person. Let’s check out how to cite a youtube video in different scenarios.
when the uploader has a different Channel Name and Real Name
- Start with the Last name, then the first initial letter of the first name, and add a period.
- Include the channel name in square brackets exactly as it is written on YouTube, then add a period afterward.
- Next, in regular brackets, add the date the video was posted in the year-month-day format, then close with a period.
- In italics, add the video title and indicate the video in square brackets like this [Video], close with a period. Only capitalize the first word in the title of the video.
- Next, add the website the video was uploaded to, don’t italicize. Add a period.
- Lastly, add the video URL.
Here’s a practical example of this:
Last name, Initials. [Channel Name]. (Year, Month Day). Video title [Video]. YouTube. URL
- Grisham, J. [Fantasia Reviews]. (2021, February 14). A Review of “The Sandless Time” Novel [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79cy5
when the uploader’s real name is the same as the Channel Name
- Follow the same format as above
- However, do not write the same name two times for both channel and author name.
- Don’t include the channel name in square brackets, only write the author’s name in the spot for the Last name and Initials.
See an example of the format below:
Last name, Initials. (Year, Month Day). Video title [Video]. YouTube. URL
- Gibson, M. (2020, November 30). An explanation of the effects of climate change [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xy67_99
when only the uploader’s Channel Name is available
Follow the same steps above, but add the whole channel name without square brackets. This step also applies if the uploader is not a person but a body or institution.
Check out the examples:
For Channel Name:
- MrBeast. (2019, April 22). Top 5 Ways to Spend a Million Dollars [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5f61_ht
For Body or Institution:
- Edinburgh University. (2021, May 15). The Birthing of a New Era [Video]. YouTube. www.youtube.com/watch?v=67890
In-text Citation for a YouTube Video – APA Style
When citing a YouTube video in-text in an APA-styled research work, use the first name that appears in the full citation to reference the video. Whether it is the real name, screen name, or institution name, use whatever comes first. Like this:
- Real name: (Gibson, 2020)
- Channel/Screen name: (MrBeast, 2019)
- Institution: (Edinburgh University, 2021)
In cases where you’re making a direct quote to a particular part of the video, include a time stamp.
- (Edinburgh University, 2021, 1:45)
- (MrBeast, 2019, 5:45)
- (Gibson, 2020, 0:30)
The Standard Way to Cite a YouTube Channel in APA Style
There may be cases where you need to cite an entire YouTube channel, not just a single video file. In cases like this, here is the information you’ll need:
- Channel name
- Channel homepage (or any other channel tab you’re referring to)
- Channel link
- Retrieval date when you got the channel information
Now, let’s put all the above together meaningfully in a full citation:
- Start with the Last name, then Initials of first name (if you have this information), then add the Channel name in square brackets followed by a period.
- If the real name is not available, start with the channel name without the brackets.
- Don’t add the year the channel was created, instead use (n.d.) followed by a period.
- Write in italics Home followed by [YouTube channel] and a period.
- Include the website and a period (YouTube.)
- Add the retrieval date in the Month Day, Year format since this information may change over time
- Lastly, write “from” followed by the URL.
This is what it should look like:
- Donaldson, J. [MrBeast]. (n.d.) Home [YouTube channel]. YouTube. Retrieved February 24, 2023, from https://www.youtube.com/@MrBeast
- MrBeast. (n.d.) Home [YouTube channel]. YouTube. Retrieved February 24, 2023, from https://www.youtube.com/@MrBeast
Cite a YouTube video in MLA Format
To cite a YouTube video in MLA format, there are a few steps to follow according to the official MLA Style website. These steps vary slightly if:
- the video has an author name,
- if you can’t find the author’s name, and,
- if the video is uploaded by another YouTuber other than the author.
Let’s check out the different steps below:
Citing a YouTube Video in MLA Format With Author Name Available
- Begin with the video creator’s name or the author’s name. Use the Last name-first name format. If you can’t find this information, you can use the YouTube account name, channel/screen name. Add a comma after the name last name, then a period after the first name.
- Write the title of the video and capitalize the first, initial letter of each word. Do not capitalize articles like “a, the, an;” prepositions, or conjunctions that are three letters or less, e.g. “and, but.” Put the title in double quotation marks, the end it with a period.
- Write the name of the website (YouTube) in italics, and include a comma after it.
- Add the date the video was posted. Follow the day month year format and add a comma after the date.
- Lastly, place the shortened form of the video’s URL or the direct link to the video, then close the citation with a period.
Let’s see some practical reference examples of this:
Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of the video.” Website, Date, and URL
So, for instance, it should look like this:
- Barry, Allen. “How to be the Fastest Man Alive.” YouTube, 10, Nov. 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=12345.
- Arrowman. “Surviving the Island Alone.” YouTube, 15, August 2023, www.youtube.com/watch?v=54321.
Citing A YouTube Video in MLA Style without Author Name
The format is the same as above if there’s no author name. However, your citation will begin from the title of the video and include the screen name of the person that uploaded the video to YouTube. Here’s what that would look like:
“Video Name.” YouTube, uploaded by Screen Name (uploader), Day Month Year, URL.
A practical example for you:
- “How to be the Fastest Man Alive.” YouTube, uploaded by FANgirl215, 10, Nov. 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=12345.
Cite a YouTube Video in MLA With AUTHOR NAME and Different Uploader
If the person that uploaded the video is not the same as the author, here’s how to cite it:
Author Last Name, First Name. “Video Name.” YouTube, uploaded by Screen Name (uploader), Day Month Year, URL.
Here’s an example of this:
- Chris, Devon. “Our Changing World: Fossil Fuels Doing Damage?” YouTube, uploaded by ClimateMania, 17 December 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_fbo.
Cite a YouTube Video in Chicago Style
For the Chicago referencing style, there are two distinct methods for a footnote reference and a bibliography reference. Let’s take a closer look:
Citing a YouTube Video in a FootNote (Chicago Style)
For Chicago-styled footnote references, we use superscript numbers for in-text citations—they link to the footnotes. Each superscript number in the in-text citation corresponds to the reference in the footnote. This is what it should look like:
Number. Author’s First name Last name, “Title of the video,” Extra information, Month Day, Year, Format. Video Length or Timestamp(s), URL.
See some examples:
- Billy Ray, “The Art of Music,” YouTube Video, February 20, 2021. TED Talk, 1:55 to 7:34. https://youtu.be/NJerB0gh7ty.
- Anthony Hawke, “The Developmental Stages of a Robot,” YouTube Video, July 15, 2008. 3:45. https://youtu.be/543uy90.
Chicago Style for Citing a YouTube Video in a bibliography entry
This style manual stipulates that YouTube videos only appear in the footnotes of research work. But, if the video is an important part of your research, or you frequently cite the video in your work, then you may add the cited page to the bibliography.
This is how to do so:
Author Last name, First name (Use Screen name if these are unavailable). “Video name.” Extra information. Month Day, Year. Format, Video Length. URL
An example of the above for bibliography entry is as follows:
- Hawke, Anthony. “The Developmental Stages of a Robot.” YouTube video. July 15, 2008. Keynote Speech, 3:45. https://youtu.be/543uy90.
Step 3: Use these Tools to Verify Cited Reference Accuracy
The steps we’ve shared above are detailed and accurate, and if you follow them closely, your in-text citation, footnote, or bibliography entries should be perfect. But there’s nothing like being extra careful when it comes to research work.
Any of the following referencing tools can help you verify whether or not your citations are accurate in the desired reference style you choose.
Optional Information to Include in YouTube Citations
YouTube videos are diverse and can cover a wide range of content and information. Sometimes, you may need to include some additional information that is relevant to your citation to provide clarity to the reader.
Here are a few of the optional info to include:
If you’re citing a music video, the musician is usually listed as the main author and the video director is usually listed after the video title. It’s essential to include the video director’s name if you’re discussing the video content, not just the song lyrics. Include the words “Music Video” in place of “Video or YouTube Video” to provide a distinction.
Here are examples of how this looks for each style:
- Cyrus, M. (2013, August 26). Wrecking Ball [Music Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRFHAvdwXXs
- Cyrus, Miley. “Wrecking Ball.” Music Video, 26, Aug. 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRFHAvdwXXs.
Chicago format (Bibliography)
- Cyrus, Miley. “Wrecking Ball.” Directed by Terry Richardson. August 26, 2013. Music Video, 3:44. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRFHAvdwXXs.
If you’re citing a recorded lecture, the information you may need to include is when and where the lecture was recorded, and if it is part of a course or series. In place of the date posted, we use the date the video was recorded (this should be visible in the video.)
See examples of this in various styles:
- Brown, J. (filmed 2023, June 10). Lecture 1: An Introduction to Music for Beginners [Video of Lecture]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgAFHBeht77
- Brown, James. Lecture 1: “An Introduction to Music for Beginners” Video of Lecture, 10, Jun. 2023, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgAFHBeht77.
Chicago format (Bibliography)
- Brown, James. Lecture 1: “An Introduction to Music for Beginners.” Edu-Lectures, Oxford University, filmed June 10, 2023. Video of Lecture, 3:44. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgAFHBeht77.
Can you use a video from a YouTube channel as a source?
Yes, a video from YouTube can serve as a source in your research works cited. However, you must accurately cite each video in your select style guidelines, so that anyone reading your work can find it swiftly.
Can You Cite a YouTube video using in-text citations?
Yes, you can cite a video using an in-text citation in any of the citation styles.
* APA style, use the author’s Last name, channel name, or institution name, followed by a comma and then the year it was uploaded. e.g. (Gibson, 2020)
* MLA style, include the Last name followed by a comma, and then the timestamp range. e.g. (Gibson, 01:15 – 03:00)
* Chicago-styled in-text citation, use the author’s Last name, followed by a comma, the year of publication, then the timestamp. e.g. (Chen 2021, 0:56)
How can I include the YouTube video to PowerPoint to make presentation?
We have a useful guide for those who might be looking for ways to add YouTube video to PowerPoint. Click the link to read more.
What is the best type of YouTube video title citation?
There is no “best type” of citation for any research work. The style you choose is either determined by the publication you are writing for or the institution where the work will be submitted.
What is the fastest way to get the full citation for a YouTube video?
All the information you need to cite a YouTube video, you can easily find on the YouTube page. Once you have gathered the information, put them together with the guides in this article, and then check your accuracy with any of the reference tools we’ve shared.