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Audiovisual Recordings and Other Multimedia

This resource explains how to cite film, television, and other audiovisual materials. Citations for such recorded media usually include some or all of the following information: name of the person primarily responsible for the content of the recording (composer, writer, performer, etc.),a title, recording company or publisher’s name, identifying number, an indication of medium (DVD, videocassette, etc.), and a copyright and/or production/performance date. Entries for recorded material found online should also include a DOI or URL.

For audiovisual materials that are Internet-based, like YouTube videos or podcasts, see the OWL's page on citing Web Sources in CMOS.

Note that the examples below are in the Notes and Bibliography (NB) format.

General Model for Citing Film, Television, and Other Recorded Media in Chicago Style

The order of the elements listed—and whether or not they will be included—depends not only on the nature of the source, but also whether a part or the whole source is cited, and whether a particular contributor is the focus of the citation.

Footnote or Endnote (N):

Entire Work:

  1. Firstname Lastname, Title of Work, directed/performed by Firstname Lastname (Original release year; City: Studio/Distributor, video release year), medium.

Episode:

  1. Title of Work, episode number, “Episode Title,” directed/written/performed by Firstname Lastname, aired Month day, year, on Network Name, URL. 

Corresponding Bibliographical Entry (B):

Lastname, Firstname. Title of Work. Directed/Performed by Firstname Lastname. Original Release Year; City: Studio/Distributor, video release year. Medium.
Lastname, Firstname, dir. Title of Work. Season number, episode number, “Episode Title.” Aired Month day, year, on Network Name. URL.

Film

N:

1. Joe Versus the Volcano, directed by John Patrick Shanley (1990; Burbank, CA: Warner Home Video, 2002), DVD.

B:

Shanley, John Patrick, dir. Joe Versus the Volcano. 1990; Burbank, CA: Warner Home Video, 2002. DVD.

If you want to cite a specific moment in the film, like you would cite a page number in a print source, you can do so by citing the scene, as below. This need not be done in the bibliography, where you can cite the whole film, only in the note. Use the scene title as given on the medium in which it is accessed; if scene titles are not available (such as on a VHS), you cannot cite in this fashion.

N:

2. “Joe Buys Luggage”, Joe Versus the Volcano, directed by John Patrick Shanley (1990; Burbank, CA: Warner Home Video, 2002), DVD.

Television

The format for citing a television show is similar to citing a film, but sufficiently different that it is worth providing some extra guidance. You must specify the number and title of the episode to which you are referring, of course. In addition, since television shows are serialized rather than released all at once, you should cite by date aired rather than year released. 

N:

3. Star Trek: The Next Generation, season 2, episode 9, “The Measure of a Man,” directed by Robert Scheerer, written by Melinda M. Snodgrass, featuring Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, and Whoopi Goldberg, aired February 13, 1989, in broadcast syndication, Paramount, 2012, Blu-Ray.

B:

Snodgrass, Melinda M, writer. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 2, episode 9, “The Measure of a Man.” Directed by Robert Scheerer, featuring Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, and Whoopi Goldberg. Aired February 13, 1989, in broadcast syndication. Paramount, 2012, Blu-Ray.

Note: If you are accessing the show via a streaming service rather than on physical media, you can replace everything after the airing information with the relevant URL. For instance, in the above television example, if you are working from Netflix instead of a Blu-Ray recording, you would replace “Paramount, 2012, Blu-Ray” with “https://www.netflix.com/watch/70177897”. This is sometimes necessary information, in both television shows and films, especially if there are extended or remastered editions in circulation.

Musical Recordings  

General audiovisual guidelines apply to music recordings. If no date can be located, CMOS recommends consulting a library catalog or another source. Usually, musical citations without a date are unacceptable, but if they must be used, “n.d.” (for no date) can be substituted. You may choose not to cite “year of release” if it is the same year as the recording date.  If you have a rough idea of the date, “ca.” (for circa) can be used, e.g. “ca. 1935”. Note that some musical recordings have writers who are not the primary performer(s) on the song, and that this affects the citation; see example #2.

N:

1. Name of group/composer/performer, “Title,” contributing personnel, recording date, Recording Company or Publisher, track number on Name of Album, year of release, medium.
1. Bob Dylan, “Workingman’s Blues #2,” recorded February 2006, track 3 on Modern Times, Columbia, compact disc.
2. Ray Charles, vocalist, “Georgia on My Mind,” by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell, recorded March 1960, track 2 on The Genius Hits the Road, ABC-Paramount, vinyl LP.

B:

Name of group or composer or performer. Title. Contributing personnel. Recording date. Recording Company or Publisher, medium.
Dylan, Bob. “Workingman’s Blues #2.” Recorded February 2006. Track 3 on Modern Times. Columbia, compact disc.
Charles, Ray. “Georgia on My Mind.” By Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell. Recorded March 1960. Track 2 on The Genius Hits the Road. ABC-Paramount, vinyl LP.

Recorded Speeches

A recording of a speech, lecture, or other similar content should be cited as follows:

N:

4. Firstname Lastname, “Speech Title,” Date of speech, location of speech, medium, running time, information on where the recording can be found.

B:

Lastname, Firstname. “Speech Title.” Date of speech. Location of speech. Medium, running time. Information on where the recording can be found.

N:

5. Toni Morrison, “Nobel Lecture,” December 7, 1993, Grand Hall of the Swedish Academy, Stockholm, Sweden, MPEG-4, 33:18, https://www.nobelprize.org/mediaplayer/.

B:

Morrison, Toni. “Nobel Lecture.” December 7, 1993. Grand Hall of the Swedish Academy, Stockholm, Sweden. MPEG-4, 33:18. https://www.nobelprize.org/mediaplayer/.

Audiobooks or Recordings

Citing an audiobook, a published recording of a poetry reading, or anything along those lines requires information familiar from the guidelines both for musical recordings and print media. The format is as follows:

N:

6. Firstname Lastname, Title, read by Firstname Lastname (City: Publisher, year), medium, running time.

B:

Lastname, Firstname. Title. Read by Firstname Lastname. City: Publisher, year. Medium, running time.

Note: If the author and the reader are the same, then replace “read by Firstname Lastname” with “read by the author.”

N:

7. Matt Ruff, Lovecraft Country, read by Kevin Kenerly (Ashland, OR: Blackstone Audio, 2016), Audible audio ed., 12 hr., 14 min.

B:

Ruff, Matt. Lovecraft Country. Read by Kevin Kenerly. Ashland, OR: Blackstone Audio, 2016. Audible audio ed., 12 hr., 14 min.

Live Performances

Live performances of content, such as plays, concerts, or similar, obviously cannot be consulted by your reader, and therefore need not be given a bibliographical entry. However, if for whatever reason you need to use one as a source, you should include a citation in note form, as follows:

N:

8. Title, contributors, location, date.

Obviously, this will vary widely based on what kind of live performance you are citing, so here are two different examples to show the potential range – a play and a music festival.

9. She Kills Monsters, written by Qui Nguyen, dir. Amy Lynn Budd, Yue-Kong Pao Hall of Visual and Performing Arts, West Lafayette, IN, April 12, 2019.
10. The Baltimore Mixtape, feat. HexGirlfriends et al., The Crown, Baltimore, MD, May 4, 2019.

Note that who you cite under “contributors” depends entirely on the focus of your paper. The first example above assumes that you are discussing the play as a whole, rather than, for example, focusing on the lighting design or the acting – if you were discussing other aspects, you would want to cite different people (such as the lighting designer or some of the actors). Likewise, the second example assumes that you are focusing primarily on the performance of one specific band at the festival; if you were attaching this note to a discussion of the festival as a whole, you might want to cite multiple bands, and possibly some of the people responsible for organizing the event.