Citing Facebook in MLA Format
The evolution of electronic media as an important source for research papers has not diminished the importance of traditional means of citation. Modern Language Association style calls for a "Works Cited" list to contain all the sources used in a research paper, regardless of their format or location. While using social media sources, such as Facebook, might present unique challenges and opportunities for writers, citing Facebook as a source should follow the same basic principles as other MLA sources.
The Works Cited list for Internet sources should include, in this order, the author’s full name, article title in quotation marks, overall site title in italics, any version number or posting date, publication medium (Internet) and the date you accessed the information. Separate each of these items by a period. The dates are especially important when citing Facebook, because it can be difficult to find a specific posting on a person’s "Timeline" page. Here is how a Facebook post would look in an MLA-style Works Cited list: Spirko, Jennifer. “Christmas Specials, Part the Second: The Weird, the Bad and the Ugly.” Facebook.com. (Italics) Dec. 11, 2011. Web. April 20, 2013.
When you cite a Facebook post within the paper itself, give some information about the source to attribute the information you got there; this context will also help readers to see how the cited material supports your research. If you provide in-text attribution, you do not need to provide parenthetical citation, because Facebook posts typically do not use page or paragraph numbering. In any case, if you do not provide the author’s name in the attribution, you must provide it in parentheses following the quotation.
Be cautious about citing “Shared” posts from Facebook, because the original source of the material is not usually the person who has reposted it. Before documenting this source, follow the links usually provided with reposted images or text to find out the name of the original author, the person or organization who initially posted the material. If it is from a source outside Facebook, then document that source using the standard MLA guidelines for citing websites. If it originated on Facebook, then cite it using the example above, with the correct author, title and dates.
- Purdue University Online Writing Lab: MLA Works Cited Page, Basic Format
- Purdue University Online Writing Lab: MLA Works Cited, Electronic Sources (Web Publications)
- Boise State University, Albertsons Library: Citing Facebook and Twitter in MLA
- The Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison: MLA Documentation Guide
Jennifer Spirko has been writing professionally for more than 20 years, starting at "The Knoxville Journal." She has written for "MetroPulse," "Maryville-Alcoa Daily Times" and "Some" monthly. She has taught writing at North Carolina State University and the University of Tennessee. Spirko holds a Master of Arts from the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-on-Avon, England.