Mastering YouTube Video Citations: The Essential Guide

As YouTube‘s enormous popularity has skyrocketed over the past decade, so too has its value as an academic resource. Over one billion hours of video content is now available at students‘ fingertips – from award-winning documentaries to eyewitness historical footage to the latest breakthrough research.

In fact, statistics show that over half of teens and young adults turn to YouTube for help with school assignments. However, while the platform offers an unparalleled wealth of information, it also poses citation challenges. This article will equip you to accurately cite YouTube videos in your work.

Why Properly Citing YouTube Videos Matters

As quoting or embedding any YouTube clip in an academic paper qualifies as reproducing another‘s intellectual property, attribution is essential. Failing to properly credit online videos constitutes plagiarism – intentional or not.

Beyond just upholding academic honesty standards though, citations serve several other key functions:

  • Give credit where credit is due to the creators and publishers of cited videos
  • Validate information by enabling readers to verify content in your paper
  • Provide context and transparency around source material used to support your work
  • Strengthen academic authority by demonstrating a commitment to ethical research and attribution standards

In other words, properly formatting YouTube video citations covers you ethically while also boosting your credibility.

Overview of YouTube Citation Guidelines

YouTube-based content can be cited in papers just like any other published media source. The two dominant style guides provide standardized formats to follow:

  • APA Format (7th edition) – Used in psychology, sciences, business, etc.
  • MLA Format (8th edition) – Used in humanities and liberal arts fields

The specific elements to include are essentially the same, with order and punctuation differing slightly between the citation styles.

Let‘s break down YouTube-friendly best practices step-by-step!

How to Cite a YouTube Video in APA Format

When citing a YouTube video in APA format, you‘ll need to include the following core components:

1. Identify the Creator/Author

Begin by listing the creator or author‘s full name (e.g. Sarah Andrews) or username (e.g. NeuroscientificallyChallenged):

Andrews, S.

2. Specify the Post Date

Next, indicate the publication date for the video in parentheses using this format:

(2020, March 12)

3. Insert the Title

Write the video‘s title in sentence case, italicizing it:

Machine learning algorithms explained

4. Identify Video Format

Denote that you are citing video content by placing [Video] in square brackets:

Video format in APA citation

5. Provide the Retrieval URL

Close out the citation by including ‘Retrieved from‘ along with the full video URL:

Retrieved from

Compile those pieces together and your APA YouTube citation should resemble:

Andrews, S. (2020, March 12). Machine learning algorithms explained [Video]. Retrieved from

Let‘s practice applying this structure by citing a computer history YouTube video:

Levy, S. (2014, October 30). Macintosh 30th Anniversary | Engadget [Video]. Retrieved from

How to Cite a YouTube Video in MLA Format

Citing YouTube videos in MLA style is very similar, with a slightly different order and punctuation:

1. Start with the Author Name

List the creator‘s first and last name or YouTube username to begin:

Cruz, Freya

2. Insert Title in Quotations

Enclose the video‘s title in double quotation marks:

"The Deadliest Computer Viruses in History"

3. Specify it is an Online Video

Denote that the source is an online streaming video:

Online video clip

4. Name the Host Platform

Identify YouTube as the video hosting platform (italicized), plus a comma afterward:


5. Provide Post Date

Give the publication date for the video clip using this format:

24 Apr. 2021,

6. Indicate Web Medium

State that YouTube videos are considered Web content:


7. List Retrieval Date

Close out the entry with the date you watched/used the video (day month year):

5 Jan 2023.

Those 7 components come together to form a properly constructed MLA YouTube citation:

Cruz, Freya. "The Deadliest Computer Viruses in History" Online video clip. YouTube, 24 Apr. 2021, Web. 5 Jan 2023.

Key Differences: APA vs MLA YouTube Citations

While the foundations are similar, here is a quick comparison highlighting how YouTube video citations differ in APA vs MLA formats:

Core ElementsAPA FormatMLA Format
Creator NameStart with author surnameStart with author first name
TitleSentence case italicsTitle case quotation marks
Post Date(Year, Month Day)Day Month Year
Format[Video]Online Video Clip
Access Data‘Retrieved from URL‘Web medium + retrieval date

These subtle but important formatting variations help writers adhere specifically to either APA or MLA style standards.

Tips for Gathering YouTube Video Citation Details

Accurately citing online videos in papers begins with collecting the right information from YouTube. Here are some top tips:

  • Identify the original creator rather than re-uploader if known
  • Double check the exact post date in video details or description
  • Copy-paste video titles to avoid errors retyping
  • Use the share button to copy the permanent video URL
  • Check style guides to confirm citation formats are up-to-date

Investing a minute upfront to gather details ensures citation accuracy.

FAQs – Citing YouTube Videos

Let‘s review answers to some frequently asked questions about properly attributing YouTube-hosted content:

Should I cite YouTube videos MLA or APA?

Choose the style your teacher or field prefers. APA is common in sciences and business, while MLA is used in humanities/liberal arts.

Where do I place the YouTube video citation?

Cite videos in-text and/or in your references list alongside other sources. The citation goes wherever you incorporate, embed or refer to YouTube content.

What if there is no clear creator/author for a video?

In place of a named creator, use the associated brand name or handle of the YouTube channel that published the content.

Can I just include a link instead of a formal citation?

No, you must cite videos properly. Links alone fail to provide key citation components like creator/title/dates within the work itself for context.

If you have additional questions about formatting YouTube citations, don‘t hesitate to ask!

Core Takeaways for Citing YouTube Videos

Hopefully this guide has eliminated any confusion around citing online streaming video sources in academic papers and projects. Here are the key points to remember:

  • Accurately cite YouTube videos used just as you would any published media source
  • YouTube-based video content enhances research but requires proper attribution via citations
  • Formats for citations differ slightly between dominant styles like APA versus MLA
  • Find all necessary details for citation components directly within YouTube video details
  • With practice citing YouTube sources soon becomes second nature!

Equipped with this visual YouTube citation blueprint, you can now confidently credit online videos to bolster academic papers while upholding ethical standards – no matter your style format. Feel free to reference this guide anytime source attribution questions arise!

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