Citations for the 21st Century

The face of academics is changing, and the style books are doing their best to keep up with the times.  Here are some tips for those referencing “non-traditional” sources in their midterms:


MLA is the only style book that’s officially standardized the citation of tweets (and the consensus seems to be that the word “tweet” isn’t capitalized) but it would probably be okay to carry their method over to Chicago or APA. When citing tweets, you should refer to both the author’s real name and handle.  You also reproduce the entire tweet- it’s lucky they’re so short!  Resist the urge to edit for grammar.

Polizzi, Nicole (Snooki).  “yes boo their my line! Xoxoxo “@k3lexymarie: @snooki are those leopard uggs you had on on Thursdays episode! I’m in with themmm.” 25 February, 2012, 8:42 a.m. Tweet.

Emails or Instant Messages

Include the name of the sender, the subject line, and the date (but not the time), and identify the form the message took.

Phillips, David. “Re: Graduation Requirements.” Email message to the author. 5 March 2012.

YouTube Videos

Believe it or not, I do a fair amount of this in my thesis.  As I follow Chicago style, my footnotes look something like this:

“Kittens riding vacuum,” YouTube video, 0:53, posted by “melodyparris” July 7, 2008,

If the video is a recording of a live performance, include the context between the length of the video and the username of the poster (“from a live performance on July 5, 2008”).

Blog Posts

Include the author of the post (may be different from the author of the blog), the title of the post, the name or a description of the blog, and a link to the specific post.

Michael Roth, “Antonin Scalia and Political Diversity,” Roth on Wesleyan (blog), March 1, 2012.

Blog Comments

It’s generally assumed that the commenter is using a pseudonym, but if they use the name of an actual person who they probably aren’t (such as “Barack Obama”), it’s probably a good idea to point this out by writing pseud.

“Very well said, President Roth.”1

1WesStudent ’14, comment on Roth, “Anonin Scalia,” March 1, 2012, 10:45 p.m.


Why are you referencing Wikipedia? Do you really think you’re going to get away with that?

(I guess that if you’re writing a paper about Wikipedia, or something like that, you should know that the citations look like this:

Wikipedia, s.v. “Spring Break,” last modified March 5, 2012,

Note: MLA, APA, and Chicago usually require the same information, but make sure to consult a style guide and format your citations correctly!

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