How do you cite a tweet?

Just as social media has become a regular tool we use in our daily lives to connect with our friends and the world around us, it has also become an important resource for students and researchers looking for the very latest and most relevant information. One place with the very latest information–and directly from the source–is Twitter.

So with all this highly relevant information being published in the twittersphere by the second, how do you cite it? Well it’s quite simple – you just need to focus on taking the four pieces of information that form a reference (author, date, title, source) and putting these elements in the correct order.

Can you build a reference from the following historic tweet?

We did, and this is how we did it. Our first step was to identify those four key elements common to all references:

Author: BarackObama [We use the author’s name as it appears in the source, and Barack Obama’s twitter handle is BarackObama]

Year: 6 Nov 12

Title: Four more years: pic.twitter.com/bAJE6Vom [Because a tweet is already so tiny, you can use it in its entirety as the title]

Source: This is hidden from the regular tweet view, but if you click on the “Details” link within any tweet, you are taken to that tweet’s unique url, which in this case is https://twitter.com/BarackObama/status/266031293945503744

Once you have identified these elements, building a reference is as simple as putting those elements in the correct order. Be aware that as this is an evolving area, the main authorities for referencing may not have covered this in their manuals yet. For example the Chicago Manual of Style only provides examples for websites and blogs. But as you do with all referencing, we have followed the spirit of these and other guidelines, and come up with some formatted references for a tweet for the three main styles used at QUT.


BarackObama. (2012, November 6). Four more years: pic.twitter.com/bAJE6Vom [Twitter post]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/BarackObama/status/266031293945503744


BarackObama. 2012. “Four more years. pic.twitter.com/bAJE6Vom”. Twitter post, November 6. Accessed 2 October, 2013. https://twitter.com/BarackObama/status/266031293945503744


[1] BarackObama. Four more years. pic.twitter.com/bAJE6Vom [Twitter]. 2012 Nov 6 [cited 2013 Oct 2]. Available from https://twitter.com/BarackObama/status/266031293945503744

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