How to cite a YouTube video in Turabian/Chicago style

The Chicago Manual of Style does not provide specific guidelines on how to cite YouTube. Turabian style, a version of Chicago designed for students and researchers, provides more detailed and practical advice on citing from YouTube and other online video sources.

A typical bibliography entry for a YouTube video in Turabian style looks like this:

Wall Street Journal. “How Hong Kong Protesters Evade Surveillance With Tech.” September 16, 2019. Video, 6:46. https://youtu.be/32KTKXZZ-BI.

Chicago/Turabian has two systems of in-text citation: you can use footnotes to cite sources, or you can provide author-date citations in the text. Choose one style and stick to it consistently.

Where to find information for a YouTube video citation

YouTube’s interface makes it simple to find the key information needed for a citation: the channel name, video title, publication date, video length, and URL. All of this can be found below the video:

Chicago YouTube citation

Format of channel names and video titles

The name of the channel should be written as it appears on YouTube, not according to standard capitalization and spacing rules. A channel name may be all-lowercase, or may be several words run together.

The name of the channel is italicized only if it is also the name of a blog or print publication, such as the Wall Street Journal. The video title is enclosed in quotation marks.

Option 1: Citing a YouTube video in footnotes

If you are using footnotes or endnotes to cite your sources, there are three citation formats you might need: full notes, short notes, and bibliography entries.

Full notes

Full notes are mainly used in texts with no bibliography. The first time you cite a particular YouTube video, the footnote or endnote looks like this:

Format

1. Name of YouTube channel, “Title of Video,” publication date, video, length, URL.

Example

1. Wall Street Journal, “How Hong Kong Protesters Evade Surveillance With Tech,” September 16, 2019, video, 6:46, https://youtu.be/32KTKXZZ-BI.

Short notes

For all subsequent citations of the same video, the shortened note looks like this:

Format

2. Name of YouTube channel, “Shortened Video Title.”

Example

2. Wall Street Journal, “Hong Kong Protesters.”

If you include a bibliography listing all sources at the end of your paper, you can use short notes for every citation.

Bibliography entries

A bibliography entry for a YouTube video looks like this:

Format

Name of YouTube channel. “Title of Video.” Publication date. Video, length. URL.

Example

Wall Street Journal. “How Hong Kong Protesters Evade Surveillance With Tech.” September 16, 2019. Video, 6:46. https://youtu.be/32KTKXZZ-BI.

Option 2: Citing a YouTube video in author-date style

In author-date style, the in-text citations contain only the channel name and publication year:

(Wall Street Journal 2019)

The corresponding reference list entry is identical to a bibliography entry, but with the year added after the channel name:

Wall Street Journal. 2019. “How Hong Kong Protesters Evade Surveillance With Tech WSJ.” September 16, 2019. Video, 6:46. https://youtu.be/32KTKXZZ-BI.

Adding extra information in a YouTube citation

You can choose to include additional information in the citation. For example, when citing a music video, you might want to add “music video” in place of “video”. You can also add the name of the director if it’s relevant:

KendrickLamarVEVO. “Alright.” Directed by Colin Tilley. June 30, 2015. Music video, 6:54. https://youtu.be/Z-48u_uWMHY.

Citing interviews and lectures on YouTube

If the YouTube video is a recording of an interview or lecture, you can start the citation with the name of the speaker or interviewee instead of the channel name:

Barabási, Albert-László. “The Real Relationship Between Your Age and Your Chance of Success.” September 3, 2019. Video, 16:16. https://youtu.be/ysblroPCgCw.

Citing other video platforms

The formats above can also be applied to other video sharing platforms. For example, here’s what a citation from Vimeo would look like:

johan rijpma. “Extrapolate.” April 11, 2017. Video, 2:00. https://vimeo.com/johanrijpma/extrapolate.

Frequently asked questions about Chicago style citations

Should I use short notes or full notes?

If your text includes a Chicago style bibliography, you only ever need to use short notes. Each short note must correspond to a bibliography entry.

If you do not include a bibliography, your first citation of each source should be a full note, while all subsequent citations should be short notes.

What is Turabian style?

Turabian style is a version of Chicago style designed specifically for students and researchers. It follows most Chicago conventions, but also adds extra guidelines for formatting research papers, theses and dissertations.

More information can be found in A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations by Kate L. Turabian, now in its ninth edition.

What is the difference between a reference list and a bibliography?

Both present the exact same information – the only difference is the placement of the year in source citations:

  • In a reference list entry, the publication year appears directly after the author’s name.
  • In a bibliography entry, the year appears near the end of the entry (the exact placement depends on the source type).

There are also other types of bibliography that work as stand-alone texts, such as an annotated bibliography.

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Jack Caulfield

Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in comparative literature. He writes and edits for Scribbr, and reads a lot of books in his spare time.

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