How to Cite Social Media In Scholarly Writing

How to Cite Social Media In Scholarly Writing?

The two most popular types of citation styles are the APA and MLA. The APA (American Psychological Association) has their own rules for citing social media in academic writing. As media becomes more and more advanced, new modalities emerge, authors use new channels to distribute their thinking and even as the crowd becomes a legitimate source of information (see Wikipedia, Twitter, erc.), new rules for governing that reality will continue to emerge. The more general those rules are, the less reactive governing bodies will have to be by every moment.

In general, there are three main ways to cite social media content in an APA Style paper- generally with a URL, as a personal communication, and with a typical APA Style in-text citation and reference list entry. There are general mentions with a URL. If we discuss any website or page in general in a paper, then it is sufficient to give the URL in the text the first time it is mentioned and no reference list entry is needed. For example:

News agencies like CNN provide breaking news coverage to millions of people every day on their website ( and Twitter account (

There are personal communications also. If we paraphrase or quote particular information from social media but our readership will be unable to access the content (e.g., because of friends-only privacy settings or because the exchange occurred in a private message), cite the content as a personal communication. A personal communication citation should be used because there is no direct, path for all readers to retrieve the source. For example:

K. M. Ingraham (personal communication, October 5, 2013) stated that she found her career as an educational psychologist intellectually stimulating as well as emotionally fulfilling.

There should also be in-text citations and reference list entries. Finally, if you paraphrase or quote particular, retrievable information from social media, provide an in-text citation (with the author and date) and a reference list entry (with the author, date, title, and source URL). The guidelines below explain how to format each of these elements for any social media citation, and examples follow.


First, provide either an individual author's real last name and initials in inverted format (Author, A. A.) or the full name of a group. This allows the reference to be associated with and alphabetized alongside any other works by that author. Second, provide social media identity information. On Twitter, provide the author's screen name in square brackets (if only the screen name is known, provide it without braces). On Facebook and Google+, when the author is an individual, spell out his or her given name in square brackets. The author reflects who posted the content, not necessarily who created it. Credit additional people in the narrative if necessary.


Provide the year, month, and day for items that have a specific date associated with them, such as status updates, tweets, photos, and videos; otherwise, provide only the year. If the date is unknown, use "n.d." (for no date) instead. If the date is unknown but can be reasonably approximated, use "ca." (for circa) Followed by the approximated year, in square brackets. For multiple citations from the same author in the same year (regardless of the month or day), alphabetize the entries by title and add a lowercase letter after the year (e.g., 2013a, 2013b; n.d.-a, n.d.-b; or [ca. 2013a], [ca. 2013b]). Ignore nonletter characters such as the at sign (@) and pound sign (#) when alphabetizing.


Provide the name of the page or the content or caption of the post (up to the first 40 words) as the title. Do not italicise the titles of status updates, tweets, pages, or photographs; do italicise the titles of items that stand alone, such as videos and photo albums. If the item contains no words (e.g., a picture without a caption), provide a description of the item in square brackets. Describe the content form (e.g., tweet, Facebook status update, picture) after the title in square brackets.


Provide a retrieval URL that leads as directly and reliably to the cited content as possible (click a post's date stamp to access its archived URL). Provide a retrieval date if the content may change (e.g., whole feeds or pages). Do not provide a betterment date if the post has a specific date associated with it already (e.g., status updates, tweets, photos).

Example Citations

1. Blog post

RJ Lipton. (2015). A fast graph isomorphism algorithm [Blog post]. Retrieved from



Stanford Medicine [SUMedicine]. (2012, October 9). Animal study shows sleeping brain behaves as if it's remembering: #sleep #neuroscience #research [Tweet]. Retrieved from

3.Facebook Post

APA Style. (2011, March 10). How do you spell success in APA Style? Easy! Consult Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary or APA's Dictionary of Psychology. Read more over at the APA Style Blog [Facebook status update]. Retrieved from

4.Google+ Post

Cornell University. (2012, October 11). Having a cup of coffee before closing your eyes is the most effective way to combat daytime drowsiness, according to research. Sounds counterintuitive, but it takes 20 minutes for the caffeine to get into your bloodstream. So if you take [Google+ post]. Retrieved from

5.Social Media Video

American Psychological Association. (2011, September 19). This is psychology: Family caregivers [Video file]. Retrieved from

6.Social Media Photo or Graphic, With Caption

National Geographic. (2012, November 20). A super telephoto lens allowed Colleen Pinski to capture this image of an annual solar eclipse. See more top shots: [Photograph]. Retrieved from

7.Social Media Photo or Graphic, Without Caption

U.S. Census Bureau. (2012, October 10). [Pathways after a bachelor's degree in psychology: Educational attainment, common occupations, and synthetic work-life earnings and estimates] [Infographic]. Retrieved from

8.Social Media Photo Album

Red Bull Stratos. (2012, October 15). Mission to the edge of space, accomplished [Photo album]. Retrieved from

9.Social Media Page

National Institute of Mental Health [NIMHgov]. (n.d.). Tweets [Twitter page]. Retrieved October 17, 2013, from

Ask Tutor for Help

We help students with course-specific content, tools and services in order to learn more effectively and succeed. Get one-on-one Assignment help - Homework Help from subject’s tutors—available 24/7. Ask your question anytime from anywhere.    Click here....


Leave a Reply


Millions of Study Resources/Solved Problems and Course Assignments !! Start Discovering