Documentary citation -How to cite a Documentary in APA format 7th edition, MLA and Chicago

Documentary citation -How to cite a Documentary in APA format 7th edition, MLA and Chicago

Due to the complexities and variations when using diverse referencing formats, a lot of students encounter difficulties in comprehending which pattern applies to which, especially when it relates to citing less frequently used sources like poems, movies or documentaries.

In this article, we discuss extensively how to cite and reference a documentary. A documentary is a form of picture, film, television program or official document that portrays factual information for educative and entertainment purposes.

Documentaries examine an event or a person based on facts, they present real-life stories. To differentiate them from normal movie and picture counterparts, documentaries are non-fictional and are intended for the primary purpose of preserving historical data and reporting reality.

Documentary commonly holds information that is real, some people would think of books and journal articles as the only source of information when carrying out research, documentaries also hold vast, relevant information, and as we noted earlier, they can be a great form of entertainment.

The characteristics of documentaries can be viewed on the basis of their purpose, their structure, the way in which they are produced, and their subjects. Documentary films may follow the same line as normal fictional films and include people, but you can spot them by the way their characters are developed, the characters in a documentary act as themselves, unlike normal films.

Documentary plots are quite different, and even the kind of ordeal they give to their viewers.

There are three types of documentaries, we have observational documentary, expository documentary, and participatory documentary, and none of these are very common fallbacks when it comes to research, however, they can be quite educative and informative.

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Citing a documentary is just as important as citing books, journal articles or a thesis, and holds the same reason. Irrespective of how you acquired it or in whatever form it was, it is important not to skip it out but cite the documentary as a source in your writing, as not doing so, will be regarded as plagiarism.

When it comes to referencing a documentary, lots of people get confused about the guidelines that should be followed. This post will provide a step-by-step guide to how you can reference a documentary in whatever citing format you use. Read on!

To cite a documentary, you must have the following information handy:

  • The name of the documentary producers and director
  • The documentary titles
  • The name of the production company or production studio
  • Year of publication
  • The documentary formats
  • Internet address of the documentary (If applicable)

To cite a documentary in APA format 7th edition

Citing and referencing a documentary in APA style is very simple, and it follows the following format, the name of the directors or producers of the documentary, their last name first, and initials, the year of publication goes next, the title of the documentary, the format of the documentary (for e.g., Film; DVD, or online streaming etc.), the production company (i.e. the name of the company or studio that produced the documentary)

Example; Producer or director of the documentary (surname, initials), (Year). Documentary title (In italics), format, production company or studio, and the documentary’s URL if it was retrieved or gotten online.

Swift, A, U{Director}. (2012). Journey to the deepest parts of the sea {Film; DVD} Extended pictures.


Swift, A U{Director}. (2012). Journey to the deepest part of the sea {Video file}

In-text citations of documentaries in APA style will be presented with the producer or director’s surname and the year. (Swift, 2012).

To cite a documentary in MLA style

Citing a documentary in MLA format is more tactical and inclusive than the APA style, you must be conscious and careful so as to avoid errors when citing your documentary. There are a few things to consider when using this format to cite a documentary.

If you are focusing on the documentary film, that is if you quoted the film or discussed it within your work, then when citing it as a whole you start with the documentary title, the producer(s) or director(s) name, name of other contributors, like the performer, you can include the version of the documentary, that is if there are other versions available, the publishers, and the year.

Example, Title, director, other contributors, version (if applicable), publisher, year.

Journey to the deepest part of the sea. Directed by Swift Umoh, Performed by Amanda Coker. Extended pictures., 2017.

Remember to include the website name or URL at the end if you acquired the documentary from an online source or a streaming service, including the uploader and the date.

When you are citing the director of the documentary or focused on the director, the referencing format is a bit different, instead of the title, you will begin with the director(s) name, the title of the documentary comes next, a contributor, like a performer, the publisher, and the year.

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For example, Swift Umoh, director. Journey to the deepest sea. Performance by Amanda Coker, Extended pictures., 2017.

Remember, if you are focused on or discussing the performer, then you can reference them first in place of the author. For in-text citation, you cite the title of the documentary and the time track of the part you are discussing, just like this (Journey to the deepest sea, 00:45:05- 01:18:21).

To cite a documentary in Chicago style

The proper format for citing documentaries in Chicago style is, beginning with the director’s name, the surname first, and another name. For more than one director, your reference each by their surnames only. After the director’s name, you add the title of the documentary, followed by the place of publication, the publisher is next, and finally the year.

Example, name of director, (with a “dir.” next to it, for two or more authors, “dirs.”), title of the documentary, place of publication, publisher (written in full), Year

Swift, Umoh dir. Journey to the deepest sea. Lagos: Extended pictures, 2017.

This is a guide that will help you reference a documentary properly; I hope you found this useful for your Documentary citation!


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