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  4. How to Cite a Website, Book, YouTube Video, etc. in PowerPoint

How to Cite a Website, Book, YouTube Video, etc. in PowerPoint

Citing a source in a report or paper is pretty easy – you just give the source details according to a particular style of citation.

But, when it comes to presentations and speeches, do you know how to correctly cite your sources?

It seems like quite a basic question at first, but when it comes to the practicalities and technicalities, the answers aren’t so easy to come by.

Sure, quotes may be simple enough to introduce, but what about all the other information, data, facts, figures, and images you use? Do you know how to present that information and give proper legal credit without disrupting the flow of your presentation?

No? Then read on!

Important Legal Note: This is not legal advice. For full details on copyright laws and Fair Use licenses, please check the US Copyright Office.

Table of Contents

Why citing your sources is important

Your audience needs to know where the information, visuals, or any other materials you use in your presentation come from.


Very often our presentations and speeches are informed by or based on the work of others and this needs to be acknowledged. Likewise, audio, visual, or video is copyright protected.

Citing sources and creative owners can also help keep you on the right side of copyright law and fair use licenses….more on this below.

Make your work more credible

Citing gives your audience a good impression by proving how well you know your stuff. By attributing work to the rightful owners, you also show integrity.

A well-cited presentation appears well-researched and properly developed; and hence, it’s often better delivered, and better received.

Give the audience access to information

The whole point of a presentation or speech is to share knowledge. By citing your sources, you give your audience the opportunity to learn more about your subject and do their own research if they so wish.

If you use someone else’s copyrighted material in your presentation without citing the creator – or if you cite them incorrectly – you may likely be guilty of copyright infringement.

Copyright infringement is only 100% avoided by getting the copyright owner’s explicit permission.

You can, however, use copyrighted material without permission if you can show that it doesn’t infringe on Fair Use.

To learn more about Fair Use, see this article here on the U.S. Copyright Office website.

Fair Use

This can be a rather gray area, as what is considered to be ‘fair use’ can be open to interpretation. Generally speaking, Fair Use takes into consideration the following:

  • the purpose and character of the use
  • the profit or nonprofit cause
  • the nature of the protected work
  • how much of the work is used
  • how the use affects the value or future demand of the work

For example, if you use a copyrighted photograph just because it looks cool, use it as your background image on a PowerPoint slide, or repeatedly use it so that it becomes associated with your brand, then this is not Fair Use.

If you use the photograph to make a point, illustrate an idea, or for educational purposes, and also give proper accreditation to the copyright owner even if you don’t have permission, then that might be considered Fair Use and would probably be fine.

Important Legal Note: This is not legal advice. For full details on copyright laws and Fair Use licenses, please check the US Copyright Office.

How to do in-text citations in PowerPoint

In-text citations are citations you see on the screen, and are often in the same format you’d see in a written report.

If your slide refers to a study, for example, you will need to add the copyright details. To do that, simply add the name of the author, the work and the publication in parentheses after the reference.

For example, in parenthesis: (Author, Date).

An example slide that uses in-text citation to quote an author.

This is particularly useful when presenting quotes or insightful facts and figures that support your message.

Note: This type of citation sometimes doesn’t leave enough room for all the information you need to provide. In this case, you can add a Sources slide at the very end of your presentation

Adding footnote citations

You can also use footnotes on your PowerPoint slides to give citations.

Next to the text you would like to reference, add the number ‘1’ for your first citation. Highlight it, and then from the ‘Home’ option, open the Font box and select ‘Subscript’ and click on ‘OK’.

Demonstration of how to add a footnote citation in a text box on your slide.

Then, click on ‘Insert,’ select a text box and then draw it onto your slide. Enter the same number as you used in the text, and type your source details. You will likely want to reduce the size of the text.

Example of a slide with a footnote citation.

Note: When I talk about footnotes here, I don’t mean the Header & Footer feature in PowerPoint. You can write your citations inside the Footer placeholder, but keep in mind that the text you type in here will display on every slide that has the Footer enabled.

Verbal citation during a presentation

For some material, you may choose not to give an in-text citation, but rather give credit verbally. Be sure to introduce the source before you present the information and keep it brief so that it doesn’t slow down the flow of your presentation.

Here are some example phrases:

  • According to Dr. Richards, professor of Such and Such at This University,…
  • John Dean, author of the 2015 study, A Study of Something, argues that…
  • Jane Gordons, a journalist writing for the New York Times, offers this example….

Use speaker notes to help you cite verbally

It is a good idea to add the full citation details in the speaker notes so that you make sure you relay the correct details.

Also it ensures that the full citations will be seen should you share your slides with audience or team members after the presentation, or print them.

If you want to learn more about adding speaker notes in PowerPoint, see our article here.

How to cite a website

If you are wondering how to cite websites, that’s probably because not all websites provide the authors name for you to cite (making it a bit more difficult).

If you can’t find the website authors name you can instead cite the website’s address. And you don’t have to copy and paste the whole URL when citing websites either.

When citing a website, you just need to give enough information so that your audience knows where the information came from and how to get more details if they want to check it out.

Here are the common elements you’ll need to properly cite a website in your presentation:

  • Website or author name
  • Page name or article title
  • Exact URL of website
  • Page date of publication

See the cited website example in the picture below.

Example of how to cite a website in PowerPoint

How to cite a picture or image

There are countless places for pictures that are available for free and public use according to Creative Commons licensing. You can search Flickr and Google Advanced Image Search by filtering the results by ‘Creative Commons’.

There are also sites providing stock images which are royalty free and can be used without attribution, such as Pixabay or Pexels.

Always check the licensing agreements, as some images may have ‘some rights reserved’ or specific requirements for citations.

The common elements you’ll need when citing a picture are:

  • Creator’s name
  • Title of the picture
  • Date and location of publication
  • Publisher or website
  • Picture URL

To create the citation in PowerPoint, you can insert a small text box and add the details in a readable way, as you can see in the example below.

Example of a slide citing a picture in the footer

To learn how to crop a picture in PowerPoint into different shapes as pictured above, read our guide here.

How to cite a YouTube video

While YouTube is a free online streaming service, you shouldn’t assume that you can use anyone’s video without properly citing it.

Here are the common elements you’ll need to create a YouTube video citation:

  • Creator’s name or screen name
  • Video title
  • Video URL
  • Website name
  • Publication date

Whichever citation method you use, should at a minimum credit the creator of the video (real name if possible, but their username will suffice), and the year the video was posted. For example: (Nuts & Bolts Speed Training, 2014).

In the notes for full referencing, you’ll need more details:

Author/Username. (month, day, year). Title of video (Video file). Retrieved from http://URL.com.

Example of a slide citing a YouTube video

Nuts & Bolts Speed Training. (June 25, 2014). 4 PowerPoint Tricks You Don’t Know (Video File). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05OW0Ce8rT8.

How to cite a book

Books are another common reference material you’ll want to properly cite in your presentations.

Here are the common elements you’ll need when citing a book (same-same for a magazine):

  • Author name
  • Book title
  • Publication date and location
  • Publisher name

If you are paraphrasing from a book, include an in-text citation of the author and the year (Brown, 2005) or the author, year and the page number (Brown, 2005, p.13), immediately following the text.

Example of how to cite a book in a PowerPoint presentation

Another option for your citation, is to include them in Speaker Notes so that if you print your notes as handouts, the speaker notes will appear there.

NOTE: For help printing your speaker notes, see our guide on Printing PowerPoint with speaker notes.

How to cite a lecture (talk or speech)

Like for books and quotes, the in-text citation will need the author’s last name and the year the speech or talk was presented, written in parenthesis: (Gordon, 2017).

In your PowerPoint notes, it should be fully cited with the name, year, title of the talk and the format, and where it took place. For example:

Gordon, B. (2017). The Theory Behind Big Business. Presentation, Atlanta.

Example of a slide with a footer citation for a speech or lecture.

How to cite a song

When it comes to using a song in your presentation, there are a many variables as to whether it’s an infringement of copyright laws. Unauthorized use of a song can be allowed under the concept of ‘fair use’ as detailed above.

If you are in any doubt, obtain the license or get permission. The process is relatively straightforward and doesn’t always mean a hefty fee. Sometimes, it’s as simple as asking and getting permission or making sure you acknowledge the copyright owner.

You can give acknowledgment on the PowerPoint Slide with in-text citation on the appropriate slide or as a ‘sources slide’ at the end of your presentation:

Example of a slide with a footer citation for a song.

To get permission, here are three main licensing companies that you can contact for further info: 

How to cite a presentation

If you want to include a slide or information gained from another PowerPoint presentation that has been published, you can use an in-text citation just as if you were citing a book.

To cite a presentation, simply cite the author’s name and the year the presentation was produced, (Dean, 2007).

In the notes you’ll add the details of “PowerPoint slides”, when it was “Retrieved from” and the URL. It should look something like this:

Example of how to cite a presentation in PowerPoint

How to cite a quote

In the same way as you would quote from a book, an in-text citation with the author of the quote is fine.

Some quotes from historical source won’t have a book, page number or publisher to cite. In these cases, the author name (and year if possible) is sufficient.

Example of a slide with a footer citation for a quote.

Note: Make sure that you thoroughly check the quote’s source if you find the quote online.

There are far too many misquoted and misattributed sayings out there and there’s nothing more embarrassing than citing the wrong person in your presentation.


So that’s how to cite a variety of different sources in your PowerPoint presentations including:

  • How to cite books
  • How to cite websites
  • How to cite YouTube videos
  • And a bunch of other sources

While in-text citation may take a little more work, it is better than keeping all of your sources in the conclusion. That’s because the end of your presentation should be punchy, memorable, and leave your audience with a good impression (see our tips for how to end a presentation here).

The last thing you want to do at the end of your presentation is bombard people with all of your citations.

This is particularly true as, your audience isn’t able to flip back to see which citation goes with which image, quote, video, website, etc. Giving them the details at the same time as the material allows them to take note of it there and then.

It’s a small detail but makes a huge difference when it comes to delivering a seamless and informative presentation.

If you enjoyed this ultimate guide to citing sources in PowerPoint, you’ll love our other PowerPoint training course and resources that you can check out here.

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