Digital Video Standards And Formats For Essays

by Stefanie

Halloween is coming! What better time of year to track down some of your favorite scary YouTube videos to frighten your friends or prove your position on the existence of ghosts? If you spin your YouTube search into research (“The Startle Reflex: Can You Use It to Identify Individuals With Antisocial Personality Disorder?”), here is how to create a reference for your stimulus. (By the way, none of the sample videos given below include something that jumps out at you. Experimentation has proved that my startle reflex is just fine, thanks.)

The general format is as follows:

Author, A. A. [Screen name]. (year, month day). Title of video [Video file]. Retrieved from http://xxxxx

For retrievability, the person who posted the video is put in the author position. You might have noticed that the template shows both a typically formatted author name and a place for a screen name, and here's why: On YouTube and many other video-posting websites, users must post under a screen name. This screen name is integral to finding the video on YouTube, so including it in the reference is important. Sometimes, however, the real name of the individual who posted the video is also known. The individual's real name likely better connects him or her to the real world as well as to any other sources he or she may have provided for your paper (e.g., an author who wrote an article and also produced a YouTube video). Providing the real name, when available, aids the reader by highlighting these interconnections and also makes it possible to alphabetize the reference among any other references by that same author in the reference list. Thus, the reference format for a YouTube video includes both elements when both elements are available.


Apsolon, M. [markapsolon]. (2011, September 9). Real ghost girl caught on Video Tape 14 [Video file]. Retrieved from

(The capitalization [or lack thereof] in the screen name is in keeping with how it appears online.)

On YouTube, the screen name is most prominent. If the user’s real name is not available, include only the screen name, without brackets:

Screen name. (year, month day). Title of video [Video file]. Retrieved from http://xxxxx



Bellofolletti. (2009, April 8). Ghost caught on surveillance camera [Video file]. Retrieved from =Dq1ms2JhYBI&feature=related

In text, cite by the author name that appears outside of brackets, whichever one that may be. For example, the two example references provided above would be cited as follows: (Apsolon, 2011; Bellofolletti, 2009).

Have additional questions regarding YouTube references and citations? Please comment below or e-mail!

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If you’ve been wondering how to produce a research paper that is strong in both formatting and writing, you’ve come to the right place. The example research paper below is one that I wrote in college in one of the most inspiring courses I ever took as a literature majorInklings. The Inklings were a group of writers in England before WWII, including C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

The abbreviated MLA paper below (linked here without annotations) is about J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and how the author used myth, story, and song to link all of his works together. Tolkien is famous for creating a fantasy universe called Middle-earth, which readers can’t truly understand until they read all of the books about Middle-earth (The Silmarillian, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings).

Since we’re here to learn how to format an essay, I’ve pointed out some important things about the paper to help you write a correctly formatted essay.

For starters, the essay is in MLA format. That means it follows the style manual of the Modern Language Association, which tells you how to format the paper itself and every source you cite. You’ll also see notes like how long a paragraph should be, how to use commas properly, and how to correctly punctuate a title.

Pay special attention to the works cited page. I only used one type of source (books), but both citations are correct according to the 8th edition of MLA, published in 2016. When you’re writing your own paper, you need to make sure you always use the most recent edition of the style manual. Whether you need MLA, APA, or Chicago style, look up the latest edition before turning in a paper.

In the end, I hope this essay and my notes help you write stronger papers. Although I’ve cut out some of my analysis to make it fit into a smaller space, the main idea of the essay is intact. Follow my notes closely to produce polished and high-scoring papers. You can use this model to write essays for any class using MLA format.

Get a copy for yourself! Download the PDF version here.

Starting to cite your sources? Try our citation tools in MLA 7 & 8 linked here. Need more information on MLA 8? Find more citation guides linked here.

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