How to Cite a Movie in APA Style: Step-by-Step Guide

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Here, we guide you on how to cite a movie in APA Style. A correct movie citation in APA Style will have the following format:

Bay, M. (Director). (1998). Armageddon [Film]. Touchstone Pictures.

Properly citing sources is a crucial part of any research paper or project. When writing an academic paper, you must provide credit to any outside sources you use in your work. This applies to movies as well.

How to cite a movie in APA Style

Citing a movie ensures you give the creators proper credit and avoids plagiarism.

A Brief Overview of APA Style

APA Style by the American Psychological Association is a commonly used citation format, especially in the social sciences like psychology, sociology, education, economics, and more. Some key things to know about APA Style:

  • Citations usually include the author, publication date, title, and source.
  • In-text citations are in parentheses and include the author’s last name and publication year.
  • Complete citations go in an alphabetical reference list at the end of the paper.
  • There are specific formats and punctuation rules for citing different source types.
  • The overall goal is to provide credit to sources and allow readers to locate them quickly.

Understanding the Basics of APA Style

Basic Format for Citing a Movie

When citing a movie in APA Style, you need to adhere to the basic format outlined below:

  • Director’s surname, initials (Director). (Year). Title [Film]. Production Studio.

What you need to include in your citation

Your movie citation should include the following pieces of information:

  • Name(s) of the director(s)
  • Year the movie was released in parentheses
  • Title of the movie in italics
  • The term “[Film]” in square brackets
  • Production studio of the movie

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Cite a Movie in APA Style

Step 1: Gather Information about the Movie

Key information you’ll need

Start by gathering the following details about the movie you want to cite:

  • The movie’s title
  • The director(s) name(s)
  • The year the movie was released
  • The studio that released the movie

Where to find this information

You can find most of this information by:

  • Looking at the movie’s title screens and credits
  • Checking the movie’s official website or IMDb
  • Searching for the movie on sites like Wikipedia

Step 2: Formatting the Citation

How to order and format the information you gathered

Once you’ve gathered the necessary details about your movie, properly format them in your citation. Here’s the order:

  1. Director’s Last Name, First Initial. (Year).
  2. Title [Motion picture].
  3. Studio.

Examples of Correctly Formatted Citations

Putting it all together, here are examples of citations for movies in proper APA format:

  • Avery, J. (Director). (2023). The pope’s exorcist [Film]. Sony Pictures.
  • Foster, M. (Director). (2023). A man called Otto [Film]. Sony Pictures.
  • Kershner, I. (Director). (1980). The empire strikes back [Film]. Lucasfilm.

Step 3: Using In-Text Citations

When to use in-text citations

In addition to the complete reference list citation, you must include in-text citations anytime you reference information from the movie in the body of your paper. Insert an in-text citation with the director’s last name and year when you:

  • Paraphrase information from the movie
  • Quote directly from the movie
  • Use specific ideas, facts, or statistics from the movie

How to format in-text citations

In-text citations usually appear at the end of the sentence in parentheses and include just the director’s last name and year, like this: (Director’s Last Name, Year). For example:

  • The opening scene establishes the movie’s tense mood (Spielberg, 1975).
  • George Lucas introduced lightsabers in The Empire Strikes Back (Kershner, 1980).

Step 4: Including Your Citation in Your Reference List

How to list your movie citation in your reference list

At the end of your paper, you’ll include the full citation for the movie in your reference list. This should be alphabetically with all the other sources you cited in your paper.

The example was already explained previously (above).

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Citing a Movie in APA Style

Incorrect Order

The components of an APA Style movie citation must be in the proper order. Be careful not to mix up the director’s surname with the first name or put the year in the wrong spot.

Incomplete Information

Including all necessary citation pieces, like the director’s name, year, title, and studio, is essential. Leaving out crucial information can make it difficult for readers to identify the movie (the source).

Incorrectly Formatting In-Text Citations

Remember that in-text citations should match the director’s name and year in your reference citation. Formatting them incorrectly (such as putting a date without a name) can confuse readers.


Citing movies properly is essential to producing high-quality, ethical research. Here, we have shown you how to cite a movie in APA Style with the correct format.

Correctly formatted citations show readers you have conducted thorough research while avoiding plagiarism. They provide the necessary information for readers to verify and engage with your sources on a deeper level. Whether they’re included in the text or reference list, accurate citations should be the cornerstone of any research paper.

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