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How to cite a Youtube video

YouTube is perhaps not the first place you would think of when doing research for an academic paper. Although there are undoubtedly some useful resources on YouTube for learning about a specific subject, YouTube videos are generally not regarded as credible sources although that depends entirely on the context.

YouTube was established by three ex-workers of PayPal and incorporated on February 14, 2005. The rapid growth of the channel consequently led to its acquisition by tech giant Google in November 2006.  YouTube’s popularity has of course also extended into academia where it is, albeit rarely, cited in some scholarly materials. This has necessitated its adoption into the various referencing manuals or style guides used in education.

This paper takes a look at how to cite a YouTube video in some of the popular manuals/guides.

APA [7th edition]

Reference page [video with uploader’s real name and Screen/channel name]

FormatUploader last name, First initial. Middle initial. [Screen/channel name]. (Year, Month Day). Title of the video [Video]. Name of website. URL.
ExampleDavidsson, J. [BigDavidsson]. (2018, November 17). Java development made easy [Video]. YouTube.

In-text citation

Format  Parenthetical: (Uploader last name, Year) Narrative: Uploader last name (Year)
Examples  Parenthetical: (Davidsson, 2019) Narrative: Davidsson (2019)

Note that if the uploader’s real name and screen name is the same, then it should be used just once [hence no need for the square bracket].

Reference page [without uploader’s real name or video by an organization]

FormatScreen/channel name or name of organization. (Year, Month Day). Title of the video [Video]. Name of website. URL.
Example  BigDavidsson (2018, November 17).  Java development made easy [Video]. YouTube.

In-text citation

Format  Parenthetical: (Uploader screen/channel name, Year) Narrative: Uploader screen/channel name (Year)
Examples  Parenthetical: (BigDavidsson, 2019) Narrative: BigDavidsson (2019)

When a specific portion of the video has been used, a timestamp that indicates this should be included, e.g., (BigDavidsson, 2019, 00:01:15)

MLA [8th edition]

Citing videos with the same creator and uploader

Format“Title of video.” YouTube, uploaded by Screen Name, day month year, URL.
Example “Java development made easy” YouTube, uploaded by BigDavidsson, 17 November 2018,

If the author/creator of the video is not the same as the person who uploaded the video:

FormatAuthor last name, First Name. “Title of video.” YouTube, uploaded by Screen Name, day month year, URL
ExampleDavidsson, John “Java development made easy” YouTube, uploaded by Ddd2312d, 9 March 2018,

The above format should also be used if you are citing an interview uploaded to YouTube. In such a case, the interviewee’s name should serve as the author.

In-text citation

With authorParenthetical: (Last name) Narrative: Last name
ExamplesParenthetical: (Davidsson) Narrative: Davidsson
Without author(“Title of video”)
Example(“Java development made easy”)

In-text citation with a timestamp indicating a specific section of the video

With author  Parenthetical: (Last name, timestamp). Narrative: Last name (00:01:15 – 00:02:00)
ExamplesParenthetical: (Davidsson, 00:01:15 – 00:02:00) Narrative: Davidsson (00:01:15 – 00:02:00)
Without author(“Title of video,” timestamp).
Examples  Parenthetical: (“Java development made easy” 00:01:15 – 00:02:00) Narrative: “Java development made easy” (00:01:15 – 00:02:00)

Chicago style [17th edition]

The Chicago notes and bibliography format recommends that, apart from films, other online videos such as YouTube videos can be included in the notes but excluded from the bibliography unless such a video has been frequently cited, is important to the paper and/or your institution mandates that all in-text citations be included in the bibliography. 

Note that this is not the case with the author-date format which automatically stipulates that every in-text citation be included in the reference list.

When the creator is known 

FormatAuthor last name, First name, or name of the company that posted the content. “Title of video.” YouTube, Length. Date published. URL.  
Bibliography exampleDavidsson, John. “Java development made easy.” YouTube, 00:04:11. 17. November 2019.
Full note exampleDavidsson, John. “Java development made easy.” YouTube. 00:01:15 – 00:02:00. 17 November 2019.
Short note exampleDavidsson, “Java Made Easy,”  00:02:00  

Username with no creator

If a username or screen name is available but the creator name is not, use it in the place of the creator/author.

FormatScreen/channel name or name of the company that uploaded the video. “Title of Video.” YouTube video, length. Date published. URL.
Bibliography exampleBigDavidsson. “Java development made easy.” YouTube video. 00:04:11. 17. November 2018.
Full note exampleBigDavidsson. “Java development made easy.” YouTube video. 00:01:15 – 00:02:00. 17 November 2018.
Short note exampleBigDavidsson, “Java Made Easy,”  00:02:00

Harvard (in Cite Them Right 10th edition)

The Harvard referencing style is another popular style that uses the author-date system for in-text citations. Below is the Harvard referencing format:

FormatUploader Username/Screen name. Video title. Series title if the video is part of a series. [online video]. Available at: URL. Accessed: (date).
Reference page exampleBigDavidsson (2019).  Java development made easy. [online video]. Available at: Accessed: (7 March 2021).
In-text citation example [with a timestamp]Parenthetical: (BigDavidsson, 2019, 00:01:15 – 00:02:00) Narrative: BigDavidsson (2019,  00:01:15 – 00:02:00)  
In-text citation example [without a timestamp]Parenthetical: (BigDavidsson, 2019) Narrative: BigDavidsson (2019)  


Also, some universities will require the URL to be inside pointed brackets<> followed by a full stop, e.g., BigDavidsson (2019). Java development made easy [online video] Available at: < >. [Accessed: 7 March 2021]. Instead of using the long link on the address bar of the browser, you can use a shortened link which can be found under the share section on the YouTube video page.

Other resources

This post was produced as part of a research guide series by Avidnote which is a free web-based app that helps you to write and organize your academic writing online. Click here to find out more.

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