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How to cite a PowerPoint presentation

PowerPoint is a popular presentation program owned by Microsoft Inc. It is part of the company’s Office Suite products range, along with other products such as the very popular Microsoft Word and Excel, among others. The program was initially developed by Forethought Inc which first launched it in April 1987.

It was originally compatible with only Macintosh computers before Microsoft acquired both the company and product in July 1987. With PowerPoint, users can design anything from simple slide shows to complex presentations. The program is widely used to create business presentations but is also useful for educational and other purposes.

As noted above, PowerPoint presentations can be used for several purposes which can be cited accordingly.

Citing a PowerPoint presentation in APA [7th edition]

The following format is for citations involving a classroom website and learning management systems [LMS] like Blackboard, Canvas, Brightspace, etc. Because an LMS requires users to log in, the home page URL of the LMS should be included instead of the full URL of the work.

Format for referenceAuthor/Presenter Last Name, Initials. (Date of publication) Title of presentation [PowerPoint slides]. Name of presentation forum. URL  
Format for in-text citationsParenthetical: (Last Name, Year, slide number) Narrative: Last Name (slide number)
ReferenceLee, R., & Adams, G. (2019) Game theory [PowerPoint slides] Canvas@FNU. https//
In-text citationsParenthetical: (Lee & Adams, 2019, slide 1) Narrative: Lee and Adams (2019, slide 1)

Citing a PowerPoint presentation in MLA [8th edition]

Classroom lectures presented with PowerPoint slides can be cited in MLA format. Note however that this will be a bit different from MLA PowerPoint citations that are not classroom-based. The format for lecture presentations is captured in the following diagram.

Format for referenceInstructor’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Lecture or Presentation.” Title of Course, Date of PowerPoint presentation, University Name. Microsoft PowerPoint presentation. 
Format for in-text citationParenthetical: (Last Name, slide number)   Narrative: Last Name (slide number)
ReferenceSmith, David. “Capitalism vs communism.”  Macroeconomics 401, 27 Nov. 2020, Princeton University. Microsoft PowerPoint presentation.
In-text citationsParenthetical: (Smith, slide 1) Narrative: Smith (slide 1)

Citing a PowerPoint presentation in Harvard [Cite Them Right 10th edition]

Like in all the other styles mentioned above, PowerPoint presentations can be cited in a variety of ways. Below is a citation format for a virtual learning environment [VLE]. A VLE is a system that provides digital solutions to the education industry in terms of facilitating conducive and active communication and learning environments between instructors and learners. In tertiary institutions, VLEs are usually a component of the broader learning management system (LMS) albeit both terms are often used interchangeably.

Format for referenceAuthor Last Name, Initials. (Year of publication). ‘Title of the presentation.’  [PowerPoint presentation]. Module code: module title. Available at: URL of the VLE. (Accessed: date)
Format for in-text citationsParenthetical: (Last Name, Year)   Narrative: Last Name (Year)
ReferenceJohn, C. L. (2021). ‘Introduction to printing.’ [PowerPoint presentation] PT 101: Printing technology. Available at (Accessed: 4 May 2021).
In-text citationsParenthetical: (John, 2019) Narrative: John (2019)

Citing a PowerPoint presentation in the Chicago/Turabian style [17th edition]

The Chicago style format uses two methods of citation – the author-date style which uses a reference list rather than a bibliography and the notes-bibliography style which makes use of footnotes and/or endnotes.

Turabian is the student version of The Chicago Manual of Style. It is meant for high school and college students who are involved in papers such as theses, dissertations, etc that are not for publication. In contrast, The Chicago Manual of Style is meant for professional scholars and publishers. However, both the Turabian and the Chicago Manual of Style are compatible.

Author-date format

Format for referenceInstructor’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of lecture or presentation.” (PowerPoint presentation), Location of presentation. Date of presentation (Month/Day/Year). URL (if necessary)  
Format for in-text citationParenthetical: (Last Name Year, slide number)   Narrative: Last Name (Year, slide number)
ReferenceWolf, Joan. “Professionalism in teaching.” (PowerPoint presentation), University of Burao, November 26, 2019.
In-text citationsParenthetical: (Wolf, 2019, slide 1) Narrative: Wolf (2019, slide 1)

Notes and bibliography format

Format for BibliographyLast Name, First Name. “presentation/lecture title.” PowerPoint presentation, Location of presentation, Date of presentation. URL (if available)
Format for Notes1 Instructor’s First name Last name, “Title or Subject of the Lecture” (class lecture, Course Name, College Name, Location, Date).
Bibliography exampleWolf, Joan. “Professionalism in teaching.” (PowerPoint presentation), University of Burao, November 26, 2019.
Notes example1 Wolf, Joan. “Professionalism in teaching.” (PowerPoint presentation, Education 301, University of Burao November 26, 2019).

Note that some instructors may require only notes for lectures and presentations and hence bibliographic entries may not be necessary. The student should therefore check his or her assignment rubric for any information on this or inquire from the course lecturer. URLs and DOIs are meant for only courses accessed over the internet.


Since they emerged in 1987, PowerPoint presentations have been used in many spheres of professional life. They have become very popular in the education industry especially in the tertiary institutions where they are used in seminar presentations, lectures, theses/dissertations, assignments, etc. Their popular use in education has brought about the need to cite the more formally, according to the various citation styles such as the ones mentioned above.

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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