Citing sources in the footnotes of your essays can be confusing and time consuming. Accuracy is key but, depending on what you study, where you study and what the guidelines are, the structure of your citations will change.
It is challenging enough with regular sources like books, journals and historical sources. But, what happens when you have to cite modern sources, such as social media posts and YouTube content?
Modern media is becoming more and more relevant to academic discourse, as the reputation of long form video essays continues to creep up. There are also more academic studies into the digital world, including psychological and political science studies of social media. Works like this require context and examples that draw from social media feeds as well as traditional academic sources.
The principles for citing YouTube and social media are the same as for other formats. You need to know the author and date of publication in the text, then lay it out using the convention or style you are working in.
Citing YouTube and social media with Harvard referencing follows a similar style to traditional sources. To cite a social media post or YouTube video, you need the author/originator, the date the source was accessed, as well as a link, like so:
AUTHOR (Year) Day/month of posted message. Available at: web address (Accessed date).
DAWSON, J (2019) 20 May. Available at: www.twitter.com/JJazzyJade1337/status/784412564796341 (Accessed 16/01/19)
If the reference comes from a specific page on social media, such as a Facebook group, you must add the page, just like a web page.
AUTHOR (Year) Title of Page [Website] Day/month of posted message. Available at: web address (Accessed date).
BURTON, J (2017) 5 March. Citing References for Uni Students [Facebook]. Available at: www.facebook.com/groups/14530287569 (Accessed 14/12/2018)
This citation structure works for any online videos, including YouTube, Vimeo etc.
ORIGINATOR (Year) Title of film. [Type of resource] Available from: web address [Accessed date].
THE GRAMMAR GUYS (2018) Why is referencing accurately important? [YouTube video essay] Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTvhFAVsa [Accessed 21/01/19].
Citing online videos and social media content using Oxford referencing requires names, titles and dates accessed. You also need to identify a source, even if it's using the first few words in a post. Below are examples of how to cite using Oxford referencing.
Title, [Type of resource], year, web address (accessed date)
Why is referencing accurately important?, [YouTube video], 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTvhFAVsa, (accessed 21 January 2019).
To cite a social media post in Oxford referencing, the first footnote should include the following:
Author/username, title/first words of the post, website/platform, date posted, web address, access date.
Dawson, J (@JJazzyJade1337), 'OMG GTM, why?!', Twitter, 9 September 2018, www.twitter.com/JJazzyJade1337/status/784412564796341, accessed 16/01/19
Like many academic styles, APA relies on its basic reference format to allow students to cite social media posts. The key thing to remember for YouTube videos and social media is to reference the source's real name and screen name wherever possible.
Author, A. A. [Screen name]. (Year, month day). Title of video [Video source]. Retrieved from url
If only the screen name of the person who posted the video is known:
Screen name. (Year, month day). Title of video [Video source]. Retrieved from url
Davies, C. [The Grammar Guys]. (2018, April 5). Why is referencing accurately important? [YouTube video]. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTvhFAVsa
Although the APA Publication Manual (6th ed.) does not include specific Twitter citation formats, students are advised to adapt the basic reference format to fit:
Author, A. A. [Screen name]. (Year, month day). Title of post. Retrieved from url. Retrieval date.
Dawson, J (@JJazzyJade1337). (2018, September 9) 'OMG GTM, why?!'. Retrieved from www.twitter.com/JJazzyJade1337/status/784412564796341
If the date is unknown, use “n.d.” (for no date) instead.
Like the Oxford style, you can caption posts (up to the first 40 words) for sources that do not have titles. Do not italicise the titles of status updates, tweets, pages, or photographs; do italicise the titles of items that stand alone, such as videos.
Provide a retrieval date if the content may change. Do not provide a retrieval date if the post has a specific date associated with it already. So, if you were citing a whole Twitter feed, add a retrieval date. For a specific post, you do not need to.
Citing YouTube and social media in Chicago style requires more detail than other referencing styles. YouTube videos require the length of the video and you need to be specific about your social media post types.
YouTube citation in Chicago style requires the length of the video, in addition to the usual referencing elements.
"Video title." Type of video. Length of video. Publisher/Channel. Date posted. url
"Why is referencing accurately important?" YouTube video. 12:47. "The Grammar Guys." April 5 2018. www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTvhFAVsa.
Citing Facebook/Twitter, Chicago Style
For social media posts, you can quote up to the first 160 characters and refer to the specific type of social post (Twitter post, Instagram story, Facebook status update etc.)
Name, (Screen name). Post title. Type of post. Date of post. url.
Dawson J, (@JJazzyJade1337). "OMG GTM, why?!". Twitter post. September 9, 2018. www.twitter.com/JJazzyJade1337/status/784412564796341.
Don't forget to swap full stops for commas depending on whether you are adding footnotes or bibliographies.
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