5 Chicago-Style Citations for the Web-Savvy Editor

by Melissa MacAulay

Published at 2015-01-05

As 2015 rolls around, our use of social media continues to grow. Now, more than ever before, authors (both academic and non-academic) are citing social media sources such as Twitter posts, blog comments, podcasts, and YouTube videos in their work. 
The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) is particularly vague on how to format these modern kinds of citations as endnotes or footnotes. Luckily for you, we’ve done the research and put in the elbow grease. Here is everything you need to know about 5 particular electronic citations.
1. Twitter Posts
As it happens, this question has been answered by the lovely people at CMS’s online Q&A. They recommend incorporating the relevant information—date, @username, and the content of the post—into the text itself. If a note is required, it should include:
the author’s (real) name 
the source type (“Twitter post”) 
the date and time it was posted
For example, here is a citation for a tweet made by @EditingCo, on 13 November, alerting followers that the “November 2014 newsletter” is up: 
The Editing Company, Twitter post, November 13, 2014, 3:24pm, 
2.  Blog Posts
CMS deals with blogs in sections 14.243–14.246. In particular, CMS recommends that for an online blog source, the following information should be included: 
title or description of blog post 
blog title
the owner or sponsor of the site
date of the entry
A blog post citation, then, might read this way:
Lesley-Anne Longo, “Perfection: A Perfect Trap,” TEC Blog, The Editing Company website, December 16, 2014, 
3.  Facebook Posts
Facebook is mentioned nowhere in CMS. What CMS does recommend, however, is that a citation for any online source include the following:
name of specific post
date of post (if available)
a title or description of the web page 
the owner or sponsor of the site
an access date (optional)
CMS also recommends including an access date where no official publication date can be given. A citation for a Facebook post, then, might look something like this: 
“Newsletter posted,” December 15, 2014, The Editing Company’s Facebook page,  
4. YouTube Video
All you need to know about citing multimedia on YouTube is covered under section 14.280 in CMS—“Online multimedia.” Include in your citation the following details:
the title 
the medium (e.g., “YouTube video”) 
its length 
a publication date (in this case, the date it was posted) 
the name (or username) of the poster 
If the material posted is a recording of a speech, performance, etc., then relevant information about the original source should also be included. Here is an example taken directly from CMS: 
“HOROWITZ AT CARNEGIE HALL 2-Chopin Nocturne in Fm Op.55,” YouTube video, 5:53, from a performance televised by CBS on September 22, 1968, posted by “hubanj,” January 9, 2009, 
5. Podcasts
Section 14.221 of CMS—“Published or Broadcast Interviews”—provides an example of a Chicago-style note referring to an interview broadcast via podcast. Even if the podcast does not feature any interview, here is the information you need to include: 
the title of the episode or segment 
the narrator 
the name of the program 
the title of the website (if applicable) 
the medium (“podcast audio”) 
the broadcast date
A note for a podcast, then, might look something like this: 
“Leakin Park,” narrated by Sarah Koenig, Serial, podcast audio, October 10, 2014, 
As always, a bit of editorial discretion is needed in cases not explicitly covered by your style guide. And, as we editors know, no style guide is ever really complete. Use your best judgment. Just remember: the most important thing is that the reader be able to find the source if so inclined to look for it.
Happy citing!