If you are writing a research paper, you might run into a YouTube video that will help immensely. But you can’t cite a YouTube video in a report. Right?
It turns out you can, and you can do it in both MLA and APA formats. The last thing we want to do, especially as writers, is to get hit with a copyright claim or plagiarism. That is not good for anybody’s career or academic life!
Even though you may be used to citing research papers, or articles, YouTube videos are way more than a fun video-sharing website now. There are thousands of hours of content on Youtube, and most of them have put videos together backed by research. So, like any other source of information, you have to credit the creators of these videos.
Let’s dive deep into how to do this!
What Format Should I Use?
The two main ways to format a citation are MLA and APA. Technically there is a third, which is called Chicago Style, but this is rarely used anymore, so we don’t recommend using this format. Which format you use is typically dictated by the rubric if you are writing for an academic paper. If you are writing an essay independently, or the format is not given, you will want to consider what you are writing about.
- APA: This format is primarily used in social and behavioral sciences and education-related fields.
- MLA: This format is primarily used in humanities subjects such as languages, literary studies, and media studies.
No matter which format you choose or are asked to use, they are made of the same basic information. For a YouTube video specifically, you will need to gather 5 pieces of information before we begin creating a citation.
- YouTuber’s name or username
- Name of the video
- Date the video was posted
- Video URL
- Video length
How to Cite a YouTube Video in APA Format
For this article, we will use this video from creator Kaz Rowe. This is not a promotional article about their YouTube channel, but if you are a fan of niche historical facts, check out their channel.
Step 1: Find The Name of The Creator or Publisher
In our example, the creator and publisher are the same people, but if you were citing a video from a YouTube channel like PBS Eons, you would not put the host’s name. You would instead put the name of the channel. After you have identified the name, type it out and follow it with a period.
So, it would look like Kaz Rowe. (with the period included).
Step 2: Get the Date Posted
The next bit of information we will need is the date the video was posted to YouTube. For our example, this video was published on Dec 1, 2022. Note if the video you are citing says something like 7 days ago, click on Show More in the video description to get the entire date. Now, put the date into the citation, type it in parenthesis, and put a period after it.
It will look like this: Kaz Rowe. (Dec 1, 2022).
Step 3. Add the Video Name
Now you will put the name of the video into the citation. Make sure to capitalize each word and proper nouns, even if the video title on YouTube is not capitalized. For example, if there is a colon in the title, the first letter of the first word will be capitalized, but not the following words.
Now it looks like Kaz Rowe. (Dec 1, 2022). What National Treasure (2004) Got Wrong (and Right) About History.
Step 4. Define What Type of File It is
APA citations require you to list what type of file it is. For the most part, you are probably used to listing something like paper in this spot. But, for a YouTube video, you will type [Video file] followed by a period.
Kaz Rowe. (Dec 1, 2022). What National Treasure (2004) Got Wrong (and Right) About History [Video file].
5. Insert the URL
Finally, the last step is where we will put the URL of the video to make it easily accessible to your readers. Before pasting the link into the citation, be sure to write Retrieved by or Retrieved from first. Then, put a period after the URL.
Kaz Rowe. (Dec 1, 2022). What National Treasure (2004) Got Wrong (and right) About History [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38xccDS1wuQ.
Congratulations, you successfully created an APA citation for a YouTube video!
How to Cite a YouTube Video in MLA Format
MLA format uses pretty much all the same components as APA citations, but the order is slightly different. For this, we will still be using the video from Kaz Rowe that we linked above.
Step 1. Get the Name or Username
Find the video creator’s name or username; for example, the creator’s name that we’re using in this example is Kaz Rowe. If the video you are citing is from a YouTube channel that hosts multiple creators, put the name of the channel instead of the individual creator. After typing in the name, follow it with a period, like in our example below:
Step 2. Insert the Name of the Video
Next, we will put the title of the video inside quotation marks. We recommend just copying and pasting the title into your citation instead of retyping it. Before closing the quotation marks, type in a period after the last word of the title.
Kaz Rowe. “What National Treasure (2004) Got Wrong (and Right) About History.”
Step 3. Name the Format of the File
In this step, you will define what type of file you are citing. For a YouTube video, use the file name Online video clip. Follow this with a period, as we show below.
Kaz Rowe. “What National Treasure (2004) Got Wrong (and Right) About History.” Online video clip.
Step 4. Give Credit to YouTube
Because YouTube video is not specific about where the video came from, we need to tell where the video came from. To do that, type YouTube in italics and follow it with a comma.
Kaz Rowe. “What National Treasure (2004) Got Wrong (and Right) About History.” Online video clip. YouTube,
Step 5. Put in the Date
Next, you will need to enter the date the video was posted. Note that this should be written in the day-month-year format. For most Americans, this is backward to what we are used to. So, for our video, instead of writing December 1, 2022, we will put 1 December 2022.
Kaz Rowe. “What National Treasure (2004) Got Wrong (and Right) About History.” Online video clip. YouTube, 1 December 2022.
Step 6. Indicate Web
Just like in an average MLA citation, you may indicate Print. For a YouTube video, you will type in Web.
Kaz Rowe. “What National Treasure (2004) Got Wrong (and Right) About History.” Online video clip. YouTube, 1 December 2022. Web.
Step 7. Note the Date of Retrieval
Our last step is to note the date you used this information in your paper. This is primarily a preemptive bit of information to protect yourself just in case that creator changes their opinion a couple of months after you cite their article. Having this in your citation will protect you from getting in trouble for outdated or relatively incorrect data.
Note that the date is still in the day-month-year format.
Kaz Rowe. “What National Treasure (2004) Got Wrong (and Right) About History.” Online video clip. YouTube, 1 December 2022. Web. 8 December 2022.
Congratulations, you have cited a YouTube video in MLA format!
For a comprehensive walkthrough of how to cite YouTube and TikTok videos in APA 7th Edition format, check out Smart Student’s excellent video below.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©metamorworks/Shutterstock.com.