One of the most frequently asked questions that we get is about citing a video in proper APA style. Many students are very comfortable with citing other sources of information, but get a little lost when trying to cite a video, especially one found online. There are a couple of reasons for these difficulties. First, it can be difficult to find the identifying information necessary to create a good citation. Second, even if you are able to find the identifying information, the use of screen names and other internet conventions leave some students unsure how to proceed.
In this handy APA video citation guide, we will teach you how to properly cite different varieties of videos in APA format.
One of the problems that people encounter when citing to pages online is that the resource may not contain all of the information that would be ideal in an APA citation. So, for each source that you are trying to cite, you need to keep two things in mind. The first question to ask yourself is: what information do I need to complete this citation? The second question to ask yourself is: what information can I find from this website? Sometimes, there will be gaps between the two. In those cases, you need to simply provide as much of the needed information as is available in the source.
When you are citing resources available on the Internet, you are often going to be instructed to include the URL. This leads to many people asking what the URL is. Though you do not really need to know what a URL is in order to properly cite a web-available resource, understanding what it is can help you understand the citation process, which can make the process easier for you.
URL is an acronym that stands for Uniform Resource Locator, which is a semi-fancy way of saying that the URL is the Internet address for a particular piece of information or a file. Some will describe the URL as a file name, which is not entirely correct. However, if it makes it easier for you to think of the URL as the file name, then there is no harm in you taking that approach. Just keep in mind that, much like files you store on your own computer, the full “file name” contains information beyond the actual short file name, such as the folder, directory, and domain. You do not have to be able to identify the different parts of a URL to include them in your citation.
Students frequently use government websites in their research. In our example, we are using the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s website. The URL for that website is https://fbi.gov. As you can see from the screenshot captured below, some browsers will not include the first part of the address in the URL line. Instead, you will have to include the http:// language. This can be tricky because some websites begin with http and others begin with https. If you want to be sure you are using the correct link, you can try accessing it both ways.
You can also look at how the browser you are using displays the URL address. We have two examples of screenshots of the FBI homepage included below. The first screenshot was taken from Internet Explorer. In default mode, Internet Explorer simply identifies the information to the right of the forward slashes in the URL address, and you have to do a tiny bit of further research to discover whether it is an https or an http beginning. In contrast, the second screenshot is taken from Google Chrome. Chrome’s default setting displays the full URL, so that you do not have to do any additional information to determine whether it is http or https.
FBI Homepage screenshot taken from FBI homepage on May 16, 2017, annotated by Student Network Resources
FBI Homepage screenshot taken from FBI homepage on May 16, 2017, annotated by Student Network Resources
While you can find videos in a number of different locations, it is now probably the most common to find videos on the internet using services like YouTube.
The basic format for citing a video available on the internet in APA format is very simple:
However, in many video serving services on the internet, particularly YouTube, you will find that there is no author name available. Instead, people use usernames. In addition, these usernames are often very different from actual names.
For example, Jack Septic Eye is a very popular YouTube personality. You can see his username posted to a video below:
You would not try to make Jack Septic Eye into the author name and cite it like, Eye, J.S. Instead, you would recognize this as a username and go straight to the username spot.
Therefore, the citation for this YouTube video would be:
Jack Septic Eye. (2017, May 15). We won the game: Player unknown’s battlegrounds #2 w/ Robin [Video File]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIdx2NCzlyI
Of course, not all screen names are so obviously screennames. On YouTube, a video is always going to be posted by the Username, but what if that username also happens to be the person’s name?
The pastor Joel Osteen has a large YouTube following. We know, beforehand, when we look for a video of his that Joel Osteen is not just a username, but also his actual name. Therefore, when we pull up a video that looks like this:
We know that the citation for it should look like this:
Osteen, J. [Joel Osteen]. (2017, May 7). Recognizing your value [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNcu6g7sXPs
However, what if we look for a Joel Osteen sermon on YouTube and find it, but it is posted by someone other than Osteen? An account with the username Christian Living has a number of Osteen’s sermons online. A screenshot of their videos is below:
To create an appropriate citation, you are going to draw from as much information as you can from the information available on the webpage. Remember, your basic format is:
Author, A. A. [Screen name]. (Year, month day). Title of video [Video file]. Retrieved from http://url or https://url
So, who is the author or creator of this work? You may have to use the context of the video to answer this question. In this case, the video is a still shot of Osteen with his sermon playing over the image. It seems clear that Osteen remains the author, even if this is not an official Joel Osteen video. Therefore, you may be tempted to cite the work as:
Osteen, J. [Christian Living]. (2017, May 15). Joel Osteen- Remember God is in control He sees the end from the beginning (new sermon 2017) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0axF_sz9w4
However, while the information you do have available makes it clear that Osteen wrote the words included in the video and was speaking them, the video itself is a creation of the user; they combined Osteen’s words with the still shots in the video. Therefore, it would be appropriate to cite it as:
Christian Living. (2017, May 15). Joel Osteen- Remember God is in control He sees the end from the beginning (new sermon 2017) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0axF_sz9w4
While you would probably be fine using the first format for the citation in the video described, if you have any questions about the author of the piece, then omit the author information and use the username information provided in the YouTube account.
Of course, some YouTube celebrities are both their own users, like Osteen, but also clearly seem to be personas. Randy Rainbow is a political satirist with a well-developed YouTube base.
YouTube uses a relatively easy format to help you identify the information that you need for a proper citation. Looking at the screenshot above, you see some basic information
Date of Publication: May 15, 2017
Title of Video: The Russian Connection
Username: Randy Rainbow
Author Name: Randy Rainbow??? The last name Rainbow seems very unlikely, but Rainbow’s press says that Randy Rainbow is his real name. However, you have to do some research to find that information. As a result, you might wonder how to cite to a Randy Rainbow video.
Rainbow, R. [Randy Rainbow]. (2017, May 15). The Russia connection [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2OuJYaz_oE
However, if you did not know that Randy Rainbow was his actual name, then you might choose to cite it like this:
Randy Rainbow. (2017, May 15). The Russia connection [Video file]. Retrieved from: : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2OuJYaz_oE
While YouTube may be the most well-known place to find videos online, there are lots of other sources, as well. The Podcast is a popular way to find information, especially from reputable sources like NPR. You want to include as much information as you can find about the podcast, but you might not be able to find it all. Information that you should include if it is available is the producer or director, the name of the podcast series, the episode name, the date of publication, and the URL where the podcast can be retrieved.
Date of Publication: May 15, 2017
Podcast Name: Wow in the World
Episode Title: The Search for Planet 9 and Our Sushi-Powered brains
Episode Number: Episode 1
Looking at the screenshot of the podcast, you may wonder where we found some of that information. That is because it does not show up in the right-hand corner where the podcast is highlighted while playing. Instead, if it contained within the information on the podcast when it is selected:
NPR. (2017, May 15). The search for planet 9 and our sushi-powered brains [Episode 1]. Wow in the World. Podcast retrieved from http://www.npr.org/podcasts/510321/wow-in-the-world
Motion pictures are relatively easy to cite. The basic reference list citation format for a motion picture or video is:
Producer, P. P. (Producer), & Director, D. D. (Director). (Date of Publication). Title of motion picture [Motion picture]. Country of origin: Studio or distributor.
For movies that are not available in wide distribution, you can add additional information to help your reader locate the movie, including the distributor’s name, address, and zip code.
While this format is basically simple, it can be surprisingly difficult to find that information while watching a movie. That is why the Internet Movie Database is an invaluable information resource if you are trying to properly cite a film.
For our example, we are using the film The Princess Bride. From the movie’s general information page on IMDB.com, we can find some basic information about the movie in the details section:
This information includes:
Release Date: October 9, 1987
Production Company: Act III Communications
From the Cast and Crew page, we can find additional information, including the director and producer:
Movie Title: The Princess Bride
Director Name: Rob Reiner
Scrolling down on the same page, we see:
Executive Producer: Norman Lear
Once we have all of that information, we can put it together in order to correctly cite to the movie:
Lear, N. (Producer), & Reiner, R. (Director). (1987, October 9). The princess bride [motion picture]. United States: Act III Communications.
Citing television shows is similar to citing motion pictures, except that you include the writer for the episode when that information is available:
Writer, W.W. (Writer), & Director, D. D. (Director). (Date of broadcast or copyright). Title of broadcast [Television broadcast or Television series]. In P. Producer [Producer]. City, state of origin: Studio or distributor.
You may wonder where to find this information, but many television series have an online source of information about episodes.
For example, the series American Gods is currently showing on Starz. If you go to the Starz webpage, you can find the link to the American Gods series. From there, you can select episode information:
From that page, you can select an episode or series information. However, when you do so you find limited information compared to what you need for a citation. Therefore, you may have to do additional information. We suggest you see if information about it is available at IMDB, because they often have more information about the series than the official website for that series.
From the IMDB page, we get the following information about episode 1 of American Gods.
Series Name: American Gods
Episode Name: The Bone Orchard
Original Air Date: April 30, 2017
Writers: Neil Gaiman, Bryan Fuller
Director: David Slade
So, with that information we can begin to fill in the information we need for our citation. However, we still need additional information.
The cast and crew page fills in the following information:
Producer: Stephanie Berk
Then, the company credit information fills in the rest of the missing information:
Production company: Freemantle Media North America
Distributor: Starz, USA
However, the information about the city and the state is not readily available and Starz and Freemantle both have numerous locations. Therefore, it would be acceptable to leave that information black.
Gaiman, N., (Writer), Fuller, B. (Writer), & Slade, D. (Director). (30 April 2017). American gods [Television series]. In S. Berk (Producer). Starz.
To cite to a single episode of the series, the basic citation is:
Writer. W.W. (Writer), & Director D. D. (Director). (Date of Publication). Title of episode [Television series episode]. In P. Producer (Producer), Series title. City, State of origin: Studio or distributor.
Gaiman, N., (Writer), Fuller, B. (Writer), & Slade, D. (Director). (30 April 2017). The bone orchard [Television series episode]. In S. Berk (Producer), American gods. Starz.
Videos are rapidly becoming the go-to source for information. They are widely available on the internet and through streaming services, making them easy for users to access. However, they can create citation problems because the information that we need to create citations is not always readily available at the source. While you want to adhere to citation guidelines as much as possible, keep in mind that if you cannot find information you can still use the source; just provide as much of the needed information as you can find. In addition, remember that if you think you know the information but are not sure, it is better to omit the information than include erroneous information in your citation.