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How to Harvard reference a YouTube video

How to Harvard reference a YouTube video

With over 300 hours worth of video content uploaded to YouTube every hour you may wonder how you could cite some of the relevant content in your essay or dissertation. However, many universities do not consider YouTube videos to be traditional sources of academic writing and as such the rules for how to reference a Youtube video in Harvard style are different.

Before you continue it is advisable to seek clarification from your lecturer on the finer details of referencing YouTube videos. Many universities also have detailed, online guidelines on how to reference YouTube videos, some will instead say ‘video blog post‘ but YouTube videos are considered to be the same.

If still in doubt (or you are doing your assignment the night before the due date) then just make sure your Harvard referencing is consistent throughout your essay by following another UK university’s referencing guidelines.

Referencing a YouTube video Harvard style in text

Similar to more conventional in-text references you need to have the username of the person who uploaded the video, even if you know the real name of the person who created the video, as well as the date when it was posted. For example:

Jordan Peterson highlights that there is no relation between grades and creativity. (Madjarov42, 2016).

Whilst it is clear that Jordan Peterson is the creator of the video, the username of the individual who uploaded the video, in this case Madjarov42, is used in the citations.  It is easier to put the in-text reference at the end of the sentence rather than to try incorporate it at the beginning.

Don’t be confused if you see a reference of a YouTube video in a book where the name of the creator is used instead of the person who uploaded the video. This is the structure of the MLA referencing format.

Should you want to directly quote a YouTube video then a time stamp must be used to show the part of the video that is being quoted.

“The relationship between creativity and grades at the UFT is zero” (Madjarov42, 2016, 00:02:54-00:03:02)

If you are just paraphrasing from the video then it is not necessary to use the time stamps.


Referencing a YouTube video Harvard style in the reference list

YouTube videos must also be added to the reference list.

As with other sources, YouTube videos cited in your work should be added to a reference list at the end of your document.
The format is as follows:

  • Username of the person posting the video
  • Year video posted (in round brackets)
  • Title of video (in italics)
  • Series title (only if the video is from a series)
  • Online video (in square parentheses [])
  • Available at: URL
  • Accessed: date (in square parentheses [])

Example reference:

Madjarov42 (2017) Jordan Peterson: Entrepreneurship, Creativity and the Pareto Distribution. [online video] Available at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGax4DsAadk  [Accessed 12/11/2018]

Note: some universities will require the URL to be inside pointed brackets<> followed by a fullstop

Madjarov42 (2017) Jordan Peterson: Entrepreneurship, Creativity and the Pareto Distribution. [online video] Available at:
< https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGax4DsAadk>. [Accessed 12/11/2018]

It is also possible to use a shortened YouTube link instead of the long one in the address bar of the web browser. Under the share section on the YouTube video page there is the shortened link.

How to choose the right YouTube video for Harvard referencing

We do advise that you use good quality YouTube videos and by this we mean that they are:

1) academic in nature and

2) presented by experts in the given field.

A good example is an online documentary done by the BBC that is not available on their channel but is available on YouTube.

Using a Harvard reference generator

Should you want to quickly cite a YouTube video rather than doing it manually yourself, then make use of the free Harvard generator. Once again we advise you to check with your university lecturer or read the university guidelines on how to correctly reference.

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