• 3-minute read
  • 17th February 2019

Citing Social Media with Chicago Footnote Referencing

With social media now a part of our daily lives, you may even need to cite it in an essay. But how exactly do you do this? Here, we look at how to cite a social media post using Chicago footnote referencing. We also look at when to include a social media post in your bibliography.

Social Media in Chicago Referencing

The Chicago Manual of Style says that citations of social media content can be limited to the text. This means citing the post directly in your writing:

Musk tweeted that coverage would extend to ‘100% of Europe’ by the end of the year (@elonmusk, 26 December 2018).

Here, for example, we cite the account and date of a post on Twitter. Mentioning a social media post in passing like this is usually enough. However, if the post is crucial to your essay, you may want to cite it fully (check with your tutor or supervisor if you’re not sure whether this is necessary). And to cite a social media post in full, you will need a footnote and a bibliography entry.

Footnote Citations

To cite a social media post in a footnote, give a superscript number in the text. This will point to a footnote at the bottom of the page, where you should provide the following information:

n. Author Name (account name), ‘Excerpt from post (up to 160 characters)’, Platform, Date of Publication, URL.

For example, we could cite the Tweet from the example above as follows:

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1. Elon Musk (@elonmusk), ‘Yes. Supercharger coverage will extend to 100% of Europe next year. From Ireland to Kiev, from Norway to Turkey’, Twitter, 26 December 2018, https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1078021840444903424.

If you then need to cite the same post again, you can shorten the citation to just the author’s surname or the surname and an abridged title. This helps prevent unnecessary repetition.

Bibliography Entry

The bibliography entry for a social media post in Chicago referencing will be similar to the first footnote. The only differences are that:

  1. The author’s names should be inverted (i.e. give their surname first).
  2. We use full stops in place of commas to separate each citation element.

As such, the bibliography entry for the Elon Musk tweet above would be formatted like this:

Musk, Elon (@elonmusk). ‘Yes. Supercharger coverage will extend to 100% of Europe next year. From Ireland to Kiev, from Norway to Turkey’. Twitter. 26 December 2018. https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1078021840444903424.

And don’t forget to let us know if you need someone to check the referencing in your work.

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