How to Cite YouTube Videos in Your Paper

Citing a YouTube video in your research paper and other assignments can be a good source of information for your readers. Though there are thousands of videos available on any subject on YouTube these days, their authenticity can be a subject to doubt. However, there are really useful and trusted channels and YouTubers whose videos you can cite in your articles, research reports or any other assignment.

There are several styles to cite a YouTube video, and you can use any of them. For this, you have to consider several pieces of information. Each style requires a specific way of citing a YouTube video which you will learn next in this article. You will also learn about what to include in a citation while using a particular style.

Information to be considered while citing a YouTube video

You should consider the information listed below to be included for citing a video from YouTube.

  1. The name of the person or company who have complied or created and posted the video. It can be the full name or the username.
  2. Name or the title of the video
  3. Website title, i.e. YouTube
  4. The date when the video was posted
  5. The date when the video was retrieved
  6. Video length or duration in hours, minutes and seconds
  7. Video URL (specific URL of the video)

The use of the above-mentioned information and its style or format depends on which citation style you are going to use. Some of the information may not be used in one style but may be required in the other style.

For example, the Date when the video was retrieved is used in MLA citation style, but not used in other citation styles. Same way the video URL is used in APA and Chicago citation style, but not used in the MLA citation style.

Main citation styles

There are three main citation styles, i.e. APA, MLA, and Chicago citation style. The use of citation style depends on what kind of academic assignment or the research paper you are writing. Before you decide to use a style and know about how to use it, it will be helpful to know more about different styles and which style is used for which academic discipline in general. The main citation styles are;

  • APAcitation style – Popularly used in educational, psychological and scientific papers
  • MLAcitation style – Used by humanities like literature, art, language, history etc.
  • Chicagoor Turabian citation style – Mainly used by the business, fine arts and history

APA stands for American Psychological Association and was used first by a group of business managers, psychologists, and anthropologists in 1929. This style is generally used by the educational, psychological, and scientific assignments, research papers and articles. They established a simple set of rules and styles that will help codify various scientific components in writing. Its purpose is to make the reading comprehension easy.

MLA stands for Modern Language Association and its current version is MLA 8. This style is generally used for citing the sources in the documents, research papers, articles and other academic assignments in subjects like language and literature. This style is easier compared to the other citation styles and uses a parenthetical style. They are keyed to a list of works cited alphabetically that is placed at the end of the work.

Chicago citation style, also called Turabian citation style, was started by the Chicago University Press in 1906.

It is having basically two documentation systems, i.e.

1. Notes and Bibliography and 2. Author-date.

The use of these systems depends on the subject of research and the source that is being cited. This citation style is written in American English style that uses some common grammar and punctuation rules.

The notes and bibliography style is popular among those working in the humanities including literature, art, and the history categories. On the other hand, the author-date style is being used for a long time in the field of natural, physical research and social sciences.

How to use a citation style to cite a YouTube video

You know what are the main citation styles and which information you have to consider in order to cite a YouTube video in your paper now. So you are now ready to go deep and learn how to do it.

APA citation style

The format of APA citation style is as below:

[last-name], [first-name initial]. [Screen name]. (year, month day). Title of video

[Video file]. Retrieved from http://xxxxx

Video compiler or creator name, username or screen name

The first thing to be written while writing a citation in this style is the name of the creator or the compiler of the video. If the name is available, you should write it in a last-name, first-name-initial format. If the actual name is not available, you can also use the username or the screen name. If the video you are citing is pulled from the official channel of YouTube, you should mention YouTube as an author name followed by a period.

For example, if the video is from Google, it means the username used to post the video is Google. So it will be written as: Google.

Date when the video was posted

After the name, you have to mention the date. Mention it in year-month-date format and enclose in parenthesis followed by a period. So for example, if the date when the video was posted on YouTube is 4th March 2010, it should be written in the APA style citation as below.

Example: Google. (2010, March 04).

Title of the video

Next comes the title of the video. Write the title in the first letter of the first word capitalized style and do the same if there is any subtitle is available and place it after the colon. For example, if the title of the video is “How Search Works”, you should write it as shown in the example below.

Example: Google. (2010, March 04). How search works

The source type

Next, you have to mention that the source is a video file by placing the word “Video file” in the square brackets and followed by a period. See how it is written in a citation in the example below.

Example: Google. (2010, March 04). How search works [Video file].

Video URL

In the last, you have to mention the URL of the video following the words “Retrieved by” or “Retrieved from”. Make sure to use the specific URL of the video and not the general YouTube URL and don’t add the period in the end.

Example: Google. (2010, March 04). How search works [Video file].

Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNHR6IQJGZs

MLA citation style

The format of this style is as below.

[last-name], [first-name] or [Screen name]. “[Title of Video].Online video clip. [website name],[post-date in Day Month Year format]. Web. [Retrieved date in Day Month Year format]. 

Name or username or the screen name

Like in the APA format, the name will come first in this style also. But it will be written in Last name, First name style. If the name is not available, you can use the screen name. In case the video is posted by a YouTube official channel, use YouTube. Don’t forget to add a period after the name. For example, if the video is created by Google, the username or the screen name is Google and it will be written as below.

Example: Google.

Title or the name of the video

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Then will come the title or the name of the video. But the title should be written in quotation marks. Also, it should be in title case, i.e. the first letter of all major words of the title should be in capital except “to”, an article, preposition, and conjunction. It should be followed by a period. See in the example and not how the title is capitalized, enclosed in the quotation marks and followed by a period within the second quotation mark.

Example: Google. “How Search Works.”

Source type and website name

After the title, you have to specify the format of the source of information by adding words like “Online video clip” followed by a period.

As the next part, you have to mention the website name, i.e. YouTube. Even if the video is from the official YouTube Channel, you have to mention the YouTube name. It should be italicized and followed by a coma.

See in the example below. The Online video clip is the source type and the YouTube is the website. Also, note that the website name is in italic.

Example: Google. “How Search Works.” Online video clip. YouTube,

Video posting date and source format

After that, mention the video posting date. Write it in the day-month-year format and end with a period. Also, mention the word Web after the date. This would seem an extra text but it is important to mention that the source being cited is in an electronic or print form. So write web while citing a YouTube video, and follow with a period.

See how the video posting date is written in the example given below. Also, note that the word Web is followed by a period.

Example: Google. “How Search Works.” Online video clip. YouTube, 04 March 2010. Web.

Date when the video was retrieved

As the last part, you have to mention the date on which you retrieved the video. Mention this date in day-month-year format and it should be followed by a period.

Example: Google. “How Search Works.” Online video clip. YouTube, 04 March 2010. Web. 10 April 2010.

Chicago citation style

The template for the Chicago citation style is as below.

“[Title of the Video],” YouTube video, [duration in hh:mm:ss], Posted by “[Author / User / screen name],” [Post date in Month Day, Year format], http://xxxxx.

Name of the YouTube video

In this style of citation, as a first thing, you have to mention the name of the video instead of the name of the person or company who have posted it. All the words should have the first letter capitalized and entire title should be enclosed in quotation marks followed by a comma.

See in the example below that the citation starts with the title of the YouTube video, followed by a comma and enclosed in quotation marks.

Example: “How Search Works,”

YouTube video as a source

As the video is from YouTube, you have to mention it with phrase “YouTube video” after the title of the video, and it should be followed by a comma.

Example: “How Search Works,” YouTube video,

Video duration or length

Mention the video duration by minutes and seconds. Separate them with a colon, i.e. if the duration is 3 minutes and 15 seconds, mention it as 3:15. Add a comma after the seconds.

Example: “How Search Works,” YouTube video, 3:15,

Posted by

Mention the name of the person who has posted the video. You can also mention the username. If the video is from the YouTube official account, mention YouTube. Make sure to include it in the quotation marks and keep the capitalization same as shown on the channel. Then follow with a comma. See the example below and note how the name and phrase Posted by are written.

Example: “How Search Works,” YouTube video, 3:15, Posted by “Google,”

Date when the video was posted

Write the date when it was posted. It should be in the month-day-year format and add a comma after the year. For the better understanding, see the date in below example.

Example: “How Search Works,” YouTube video, 3:15, Posted by “Google,” March 12, 2017,

Video URL

Mention the URL of the video without the use of phrase URL and add a period at the end of it.

Example: “How Search Works,” YouTube video, 3:15, Posted by “Google,” March 04, 2010, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNHR6IQJGZs.

Note that this citation style generally applies to footnotes and endnotes. If you are citing a YouTube video in this style for a bibliography, there is a change in the formatting. For bibliography, you should follow the same format mentioned above, but instead of the commas after the title, duration and post date, you should use period. For example,

Example: “How Search Works.” YouTube video, 3:15. Posted by “Google,” March 04, 2010. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNHR6IQJGZs.