Citations in Presentation Aids

You should always cite your sources both in print and in prepared presentations. Citing your sources significantly improves your credibility and also protects you from committing plagiarism. When citing information in a presentation, the citation should always appear in the same channel as the information. For example, information you put on a slide should have a citation on that slide and information you say aloud should be accompanied by an oral citation. If you have information on a slide and say it out loud, then there should be a citation in both channels. The information on this page focuses on citations in presentation aids. I also have a detailed resource on Oral Citations in Presentations

This resource covers how to cite complete works (such as images, audio, and video) and how to cite information only.

Citing Information in Presentation Aids

There are many standardized ways to cite sources in print, and you should pick one of these to use as part of any presentation aids that can include print. The most commonly used style guides in academic writing are published by the American Psychological Association (APA)1 and the Modern Language Association (MLA)2. An addition widely used style guide is the Chicago Manual of Style3. A variation of Chicago Style designed specifically for students and scholars is also occasionally encountered, and is commonly referred to by the last name of its originator, Turabian4. The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University maintains a set of popular online resources for [APA]APA Formatting and Style Guide, MLA, and Chicago styles.

Information on Slides

For visual aids that rely on slides, such as PowerPoint, it is usually best to adapt citation requirements from an established style guide for print, such as those discussed above. These typically only require minimal adaptation. My standard advice is to use brief, in-text style citations on your main slides, and use full citations in a set of reference slides at the end.

First, place a brief, in-text style citation next to the information being cited on the slide. If there is not enough space next to the information it may be appropriate to footnotes within each slide. Second, place full citations in their own dedicated references slide at the end of the presentation. Use multiple reference slides if needed so that references will be legible to your audience. There may be times when other approaches are more appropriate, such as providing the full citation on each slide.

If you are citing information only this is all you need to do, but if you are citing a complete work, such as an image, you will need to do more! Continue reading!

Information on Handouts

For handouts, provide citations exactly as you would for a normal text document. In order to conserve paper and improve visual appeal, you may choose to place citations and references directly on the handout rather than starting them in a separate section on a new page as most style guides recommend.

Using Copyrighted Work in Presentation Aids

For some types of work providing a citation isn’t enough. Copyrighted works belong to someone, and that person has the right to decide when and how their work gets used. Citing the source of copyrighted work is not the same as having permission to use the work. Using copyrighted work, including images, videos, and audio without permission (such as a license) is usually illegal, even with citations, unless that usage is permitted under legal exemptions to the exclusive rights of copyright holders in all applicable jurisdictions.

In the United States, the majority of these exemptions are listed in 17 U.S. Code Chapter 1. As a student or educator, many uses are permitted under Fair Use, described in 17 U.S. Code ยง 107.

In my classes, I require students to explicitly identify the license or source of their right to use a copyrighted work. Fair Use should only be identified as a source of this right in classes I teach when the work and all similar works are not available under any free license and it legally applies. This is important practice for future employment.

Citing Images

Taking images and using them without citation is plagiarism. Images should be cited in accordance with the requirements of the copyright holder. In my classes I require citations for images to be accompanied by a statement that identifies the source of the right to use the image. The published APA style guide does not establish standards for a full citation to use with images, but the APA Style Blog has published examples of citations for works of art.5 Based on those examples, here is a sample the full citation for an image that would go on a references slide:

Miller, K. D. (2016, October 14). Outlining [Digital Photograph]. Retrieved from

Citing Audio

You should provide a full oral citation either before or after an audio presentation aid. Using only a printed citation for an audio presentation aid is not appropriate because it does not match the channel of the information.

Citing Video

Video uses both audio and visual channels, and should be cited in both.

Citing Artifacts and Objects

Artifacts and objects typically do not require citations, but acknowledgments of their source are often appreciated.

  1. American Psychological Association (Ed.). (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. ^
  2. Modern Language Association of America (Ed.). (2016). MLA Handbook (8th ed.). New York: The Modern Language Association of America. ^
  3. University of Chicago Press Staff (Ed.). (2010). The Chicago manual of style (16th ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. ^
  4. Turabian, K. L., Booth, W. C., Colomb, G. G., & Williams, J. M. (2013). A manual for writers of research papers, theses, and dissertations: Chicago Style for students and researchers (8th edition). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ^
  5. ^