Oral Citations

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 oral citations in a presentation. I also have a detailed resource on the use of Citations in Presentation Aids

Oral Citations

Unlike citations in print, where standards are well established, oral citations are a bit trickier. They need to contain much of the same information as print citations.

The First Time a Source is Cited

The first oral citation to a source has the same function as the full reference to the source that would go in a reference section at the end of a paper. An oral citation should always include as much of the following information as possible the first time that you cite it:

  • Author’s name
  • The author’s credibility (Who is this person? Why are they qualified on this subject?)
  • The type of source (Editorial, News Article, Book, TV Show, etc.)
  • Title of the piece (Article title, Book title, Episode title, etc.)
  • Title of what it is in (Title of Newspaper, Webpage, etc.)
  • The date that it was published
  • Every direct quotation should include a page number (or equivalent information)

For example:

Antoinette M. Burton, an American historian and Professor of History and of Global and Transnational Studies at the University of Illinois, argues that British influence became powerful in India due to the British being successful pioneers in the industrial and technological world in her 1994 book Burdens of History: British Feminists, Indian Women, and Imperial Culture, 1865–1915.1

Each Time the Source is Cited After

Then, whenever you bring up new information in the same source, you only need to make sure we know where you got it, but you don’t need to give us all of the same information again. These subsequent citations have the same function as the brief in-text citations that go throughout a paper. You can say things like:

  • “Burton’s book also argues…”
  • “She goes on to say…”
  • “In the same article…”
  • “But Davis takes issue with this point…”
  • “Samir quotes Bill Clinton as saying ‘…’”
  • Remember: every direct quotation should include a page number (or equivalent)

Watch out for These Mistakes!

  • Be certain you are citing the right thing. If someone is quoted in an article then you should say that they were quoted in the article – you should not cite them directly!
  • When you are putting citations in your outline or on your speaking notes2, you should write them as you would speak them during a presentation.
  • Don’t leave out significant information.
  • Always cite information in the same channel it is presented in (spoken vs. on a presentation aid)
  • Make sure you don’t place all of your citations in your visual aid.
  • Do not use the credibility statement in your introduction as an “oral reference section”

  1. Burton, A. M. (1994). Burdens of history: British feminists, Indian women, and imperial culture, 1885–1915. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. ^
  2. This applies to all forms of speaking notes, whether they are on note cards, printed sheets of paper, cue cards, manuscripts, etc. ^