How to Cite a TED Talk Accurately in Your Work (APA, MLA, or Chicago)

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Ever watched a TED Talk that blew your mind and thought, “I need to share this in my research!”? If so, you wouldn’t be the first one. However, using someone else’s ideas requires giving them proper credit. So how do you cite a TED Talk accurately in your work?

Citing a TED Talk isn’t rocket science, but it does require knowing the right steps (just like giving the perfect TED Talk). Depending on whether you’re using APA, MLA or Chicago style, the steps you’ll need to take will differ.

But have no fear! This guide will not only walk you through citing a TED Talk across these common styles but also help avoid some citation pitfalls along the way. By reading further, you’ll be ready to acknowledge every inspiring speaker while keeping your academic integrity intact.

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Understanding the Importance of Citing a TED Talk

Citations aren’t just for textbooks or scholarly articles; they’re also needed when referencing online resources like TED Talks. But why is it so crucial to cite these inspiring speeches?

Firstly, citing gives credit where credit is due. It acknowledges the hard work and intellectual property of the speaker. By doing this, you respect their contribution and maintain ethical integrity in your own work.

Beyond ethics, citation has legal implications too. Intellectual property laws protect creators’ rights over their content. So failing to properly cite can lead to issues with plagiarism—a serious academic and professional offense.

Last but not least, proper citations help bolster your arguments or points by providing evidence from credible sources, including sources such as TED Talks, which are often given by experts.

When using others’ ideas to enhance our understanding or strengthen an argument in our writing, we need always give them credit.

The Basics of Citation Styles

When it comes to citing a TED Talk, the first thing you need to know is your citation style. Think of these styles as different dialects in a language—they all communicate similar information, but with slight variations.

Citing a TED Talk in APA Style

The APA (American Psychological Association) style is widely used within social sciences. It emphasizes the author’s name and publication date, making sure readers can track down your sources quickly. Below is the general format for an electronic APA source:

Last name, First initial. (Date of publication). Title [Video]. Production company. URL.

This formula might seem like algebra right now, so let’s try an example. If you were to reference Simon Sinek’s TED Talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” it would be formatted like this:

Sinek, S. (2009, September). How great leaders inspire action [Video]. TED Conferences.

Essentially what happens here is that all important data about the video gets neatly packaged for anyone interested to find out more or even watch it themselves.

It is important to note that the above formatting is only correct if you’re pulling the TED Talk from directly from the TED website. If you are planning on citing a TED Talk from YouTube, however, the format will look a little different. See for yourself:

Person or group who uploaded the video. (Date of publication). Title [Video]. Publisher. URL.

In this case, if we were to take the same TED Talk used above and cite the YouTube version, it would look like this:

TED. (2010, May 4). How great leaders inspire action | Simon Sinek | TED [Video]. YouTube.

Notice that the publication date here is different, as well as the author and publisher.

For more guidance, and for help with in-text citations, see the APA’s official rules on citing TED Talks.

Citing a TED Talk in MLA Style

If you’re writing for humanities or liberal arts, MLA (Modern Language Association) will be the citation style for you. This style puts heavy focus on authors and their works. According to Purdue Owl, below is the correct MLA format for a YouTube video:

Last name, First name. “Title.” Publisher, uploaded by YouTuber name, Day Month Year, URL. Accessed Day Month Year.

Now let’s apply this formula using Sir Ken Robinson’s presentation on education as an example:

Robinson, Ken. “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” YouTube, uploaded by TED, 7 Jan. 2007, Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

If you chose instead to cite the same TED Talk from the TED website, your citation would need just a few adjustments. Instead of citing YouTube as your publisher, for instance, you’d need to mark it as the TED website. See for yourself:

Robinson, Ken. “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” TED, Feb. 2006, robinson_do_schools_kill_creativity. Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

Note that dates are written in Day-Month-Year format for MLA citations. In addition, all months should be abbreviated with a period except May, June, July, which remain unabbreviated. Lastly, make sure to italicize the publisher of the TED Talk you’re citing (either YouTube or TED).

Citing a TED Talk in Chicago Style

Last but not least we have Chicago Style; commonly found within business, history and fine arts writings. If you want to cite a TED Talk in Chicago style, the basic formatting will look like this:

Lastname, Firstname. “Title of Video.” Name of Publisher. Publication date. Video, running time. URL.

To cite a TED Talk off YouTube using Chicago style, include the speaker’s full name and title of their talk (in quotes), followed by who published the video and when (don’t forget those periods). Then add “Video” and the video’s running time, plus the URL where others can watch this inspiring speech themselves. The final result would look like this:

Moore, Juan. “The Power of Positivity | Juan Moore | TEDxUNG.” TEDx Talks. September 23, 2018. Video, 11:30.

If you’re pulling your TED Talk from the official TED website, don’t sweat it. The only thing you’d do differently is stick “TED” in as the publisher (the publisher comes right after the title of the video), then make sure all your other citation information is correct (like the title, publication date, and link).

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Online Citation Tools for Easier Referencing

If citation still isn’t your cup of tea, don’t worry—there are a number of online tools available to help make referencing easier. The internet is teeming with tools that simplify the citation process. Let’s delve into some online resources to make your referencing work easier.

Cite This For Me is an excellent tool that helps generate citations in APA, MLA, and Chicago styles. It allows you to search for your source and automatically creates the citation, which you can then add to your bibliography.

An alternative worth exploring is Scribbr’s citation tool. Just like Cite This For Me, it also provides auto-generated citations in various formats.

If you’re looking more towards APA style references, APA Style Guide (PDF) could be just what you need. With this guide at hand, citing TED Talks becomes as easy as pie.

Last but not least, Purdue Owl should always be kept in mind. It provides lots of formatting help for a wide variety of sources and consistently stays up-to-date on the latest editions of MLA, APA, and Chicago. If you run a source through one of the above citation generators, but want to double-check it or better understand the formatting, Purdue Owl is a great resource for you.

Remember: Accurate referencing not only lends credibility to your work but also shows respect towards original authors’ hard-earned findings. So give these tools a try and let them help streamline your writing process.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Citing a TED Talk

Getting the format wrong is one of the most common mistakes when citing a TED Talk. APA, MLA, and Chicago styles all have unique formatting requirements. But don’t worry. Let’s break it down.

Mistake 1: Wrong Speaker Attribution

Incorrectly attributing the speaker is like calling Shakespeare “Shelly.” Always double-check your spelling against the official TED website. For example, Brené Brown isn’t spelled as Brene or Browné.

Mistake 2: Missing Out on Vital Details

Not including vital details in your citation can lead to confusion. Make sure you include essential elements such as talk title, URL of the talk, and publication date.

Mistake 3: Inconsistent Citation Styles

Avoid inconsistency in using citation styles; if you start with APA style for citations throughout your work stick with it till end.

Remember that getting these details right helps maintain academic integrity and respects intellectual property rights.

FAQs on How to Cite a Ted Talk

How do you cite a TED Talk?

To cite a TED Talk, you need the speaker’s name, talk title, event details, and URL. The format changes depending on whether you’re using APA, MLA, or Chicago style.

How do you cite a TED Talk in text in APA style?

An in-text citation of a TED Talk in APA requires parentheses with the last name of the speaker followed by a comma and the year. For example: (Smith, 2023).

How do you cite a TED Talk in text in MLA style?

For an in-text citation of a TED Talk in MLA style, use a parenthetical reference with the author’s surname and time stamp, like this: (Johnson 05:23).

How do you cite a TED Talk in text in Chicago style?

Instead of in-text citations, Chicago style actually uses superscript numbers, which guide readers to the appropriate footnote. In printed materials, footnotes come at the bottom of the given page and sources there are formatted a little differently than ones found in the bibliography.


Now you’ve got the knack of how to cite a TED Talk—whether it’s in APA, MLA, or Chicago style—and you know why citation matters. That’s big!

Remember those online tools we talked about? They’ll make your citation journey smoother than ever before. Plus, now you know how to avoid common citation mistakes. You’re ahead of the game!

Practice makes perfect, so don’t shy away from using what you learned today often. Cite on and keep acknowledging all those brilliant minds out there!


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