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How to Make a Citation for a Movie


Movies provide relevant information for research papers, articles or analysis while allowing for an easier understanding of research than text covering the same information may allow. They might also provide reflections, deeper meanings and useful facts of historical or current events. Cite a movie used as a source or reference just as you would cite a book, periodical or scholarly journal sources. A citation for a film reference gives credit to those involved with the making of the film and maintains the writer's credibility by avoiding plagiarism. MLA style uses a simple format that you can adapt to all types of sources, including movies.

Find the following information in the movie credits or on the back of the DVD or VHS case of the movie: movie title, director, key performers, distributor, year of release and medium (film). As instructed in the 7th edition of the "MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers," include this information as a minimum in your movie citation.

Start your citation with the movie title, italicized. Place a period after the title. For films adapted from a language other than English or subtitled in English, write the English title followed by the original title. Place the original title, italicized, in square brackets.

Write the director's name. Abbreviate "director" to "Dir.," followed by the director's name and a period. Separate each director with "and" for two directors or with a comma for more than two directors, for example: Dir. Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen.

Write the names of relevant performers in the movie. Abbreviate "performers" to "Perf.," followed by the performers' names. Separate performers' names from each other with a comma, and place a period after the list of performers' names, for example: Perf. Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, and Debbie Reynolds.

Write the name of the film's distributor, followed by a comma and the year of release. Place a period after the release year, for example: MGM, 1952.

Write the medium consulted at the end of the citation, followed by a period, for example: Film.

Align the first line of the movie citation to the left, and indent any ensuing lines. The final movie citation should look as follows (remember to italicize the movie title):

Singin' in the Rain. Dir. Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen. Perf. Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, and Debbie Reynolds. MGM, 1952. Film.

Tips
  • When citing a particular person in or involved with the film, start the citation with that person and write that person's last name, first name and role (abbreviated), all separated by commas, for example: Kelly, Gene, perf.
  • Include other relevant information, such as screenwriter(s) and producer(s) between the movie title and the distributor's name. Write the name(s) of the screenwriter(s) directly after the title of the film, as "Screenplay by" followed by the screenwriter(s) name(s) and a period. Write the name(s) of the producer(s) directly after the director's name, as "Prod.," followed by the producer(s) name(s) and a period, for example:
  • Singin' in the Rain. Screenplay by Adolph Green and Betty Comden. Dir. Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen. Prod. Arthur Freed....
  • Use the movie title, italicized, for the in-text parenthetical citation of the movie, for example: (Singin' in the Rain).
Items you will need
DVD or VHS case of movie(s)
MLA Handbook
References
  • MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers: Seventh Edition; The Modern American Language Association of America; 2009
About the Author

Kaitlin Meilert has been writing since 2006. Her articles have appeared in "Reality Check Girl Magazine," "Hilltop Views" and the "Statesman." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English writing and rhetoric from St. Edward's University.

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