How to reference a YouTube (or an online) video in Harvard style

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This guide covers how to reference YouTube videos in the Harvard referencing style. Since YouTube isn’t a conventional source for academic research, the rules for citing YouTube videos are a little different from those you have used for other sources. This guide will look at the conventions to be followed when referencing YouTube videos.

Citing a video from YouTube 

Keep in mind that if you are referencing a section of the video, you should include a time code in your in-text citation. The format for the time code is minutes:seconds. 

Alternatively, if the entire video is relevant, then you don’t need to include the time code. You’ll find two examples for each scenario below. 

In-text citation template:

(Username/screen name, Year in which video was posted, mm:ss)

Reference list template:

Username or screen name (Year in which video was posted) Video title. Upload Day Month. Available at: YouTube or URL of the video (Accessed: Date).

When a specific part is highlighted

In-text citation 

George Smoot states that it is now possible to map an entire human brain and turn it into a computer model (TEDx Talks, 2014, 12:17) …

Reference list

TEDx Talks (2014) You are a simulation & physics can prove It: George Smoot at TEDxSalford. 12 February. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Chfoo9NBEow (Accessed: 24 September 2020).

When the whole video is relevant

In-text citation 

Elon Musk thinks that it is possible to make Mars habitable by nuking it (SciShow Space, 2015) …

Reference list

SciShow Space (2015) Let’s nuke Mars! 18 September. Available at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7Iiz_b_lYU (Accessed: 20 July 2020).

Citing a video embedded in a website

Sometimes, you’ll find videos embedded on a web page. To reference these, Harvard style recommends pointing the reader to where you found the source. It is possible that you will need to click through to the original source of the embedded video to obtain all the information you need to reference it, but you can still use the original URL to build your citation.

In-text citation structure:

(Username/screen name, Year in which video was posted, mm:ss)

Reference list structure:

Username or screen name (Year in which video was posted) Video title. Upload date. Available at: URL (Accessed: Date).

In-text citation 

During the annual Groundhog Day celebrations in Punxsutawney (CNN, 2020, 01:12) …

Reference list

CNN (2015) Punxsutawney Phil predicts an early spring. 2 February. Available at: https://edition.cnn.com/videos/us/2020/02/02/groundhog-day-2020-punxsutawney-phil-prediction-vpx.cnn (Accessed: 20 July 2020).

Key takeaways

  • Keep in mind that if you are highlighting just a section of the video, you should include a time code in your in-text citation. The format to be used is minutes:seconds.
  • Alternatively, if the entire video is relevant, then you don’t need to use the time code.

Published October 29, 2020.


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