menu

How to Cite Television Shows in APA Style


When writing a paper in American Psychological Association style, you will need to know the production and publication information for a television show to cite it properly. The citation information and formatting is different for the title of a TV show as compared with the title of an episode of a show. Most notably, the citation for a TV series includes the producer's name, while the citation for an episode of a TV series includes the names of the writer and director.

Reference List Citation -- Full Series

If your paper references multiple episodes of a TV show, you will want to cite the entire series in your reference list. For this citation, you will need the name of the producer, the year that the series was first broadcast and the information for the company that broadcast it. Arrange your information as follows:

Producer's last name, first initial(s). (Producer's title). (Year of original broadcast). Title of series [Television series]. Studio's or distributor's location: Studio's or distributor's name.

Here's an example:

Bell, W. (Executive Producer). (2001). Off centre [Television series]. Universal City, CA: Dreamworks Television.

Reference List Citation -- Episode

If you're focusing your analysis on a single TV show episode, then you should cite that episode individually on your reference list. To do this, you will list the writer and the director as the authors of the episode, and you will need the specific date on which the episode aired. You will still need the production and studio information of the TV show. An episode citation will be formatted as follows:

Writer's last name, first initial(s). (Writer), & Director's last name, first initial(s). (Director). (Year of broadcast). Title of episode: Subtitle if included [Television series episode]. In Producer's first initial(s) (Producer), Series name. Studio's or distributor's location: Studio's or distributor's name.

Compare this example of an episode citation with the series citation above:

Barker, M. (Writer), & Cendrowski, M. (Director). (2001). Feeling shellfish [Television series episode]. In W. Bell (Producer), Off centre. Universal City, CA: Dreamworks Television.

Citing Your Show In-Text

When you quote or mention the content of a television series in your writing, include an in-text citation. In APA, you can put in-text citations in parentheses after the referenced material and include the producer and date information for the source. For example:

(Bell, 2001)

An in-text citation for an episode of a series should list both the writer and director as the authors, instead of the producer. It should also include the year the episode was first broadcast:

(Barker & Cendrowski, 2001)

Differences From Other Styles

While the major citation styles have large similarities between them, there are a few notable points that make APA different. First, APA places the date of its sources immediately after the author's name in the reference list. Other styles, such as Chicago and Modern Language Association, place this information along with the publisher's information. Harvard style does not include writer, director or producer information when citing television programs. In addition, APA uses sentence case for the titles of TV shows and episodes, meaning that just the first word of the title and proper nouns (names of specific things, people and places) are capitalized. MLA, on the other hand, uses title case for titles of TV shows and episodes, meaning all of the major words of the title are capitalized. MLA also places titles of episodes in quotations, while APA sets episode titles in regular type without quotations.

About the Author

Jon Zamboni began writing professionally in 2010. He has previously written for The Spiritual Herald, an urban health care and religious issues newspaper based in New York City, and online music magazine eBurban. Zamboni has a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies from Wesleyan University.

Photo Credits
  • Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images