• 4-minute read
  • 18th September 2020

How to Cite a TV Show in Chicago Footnote Referencing

Television isn’t a traditional academic source. But if you’ve seen an insightful program, or you’re writing about television in an essay, you may need to cite a TV show. Let’s see how this works in Chicago footnote referencing.

How to Cite a TV Show in Chicago Footnotes

In Chicago footnote referencing, you cite sources in footnotes. And the first time you cite a TV show, you will need the following information:

  • The overall name of the series or broadcast (presented in italics).
  • The season and episode number, plus the episode name in quote marks.
  • Roles and names of the main creators. This will usually be a director for a TV show, but you can also include other names if they’re relevant to your work (e.g., the director if discussing the show as a whole, or the writer if you were primarily discussing the writing).
  • Names of featured contributors if relevant (e.g., actors or presenters).
  • The date when and channel where the show first aired.
  • A medium, such as DVD, or the URL of the website if it is available online.

The generic format for the first footnote citation of a TV show is therefore:

n. Name of TV Show, series and episode number, “Episode Title,” roles and names of main creators, featured performers, date and channel of first airing, medium or URL.

You might not need all this information in practice, but make sure to include enough details for your reader to find the version of the show you’ve cited.

For instance, we could cite an episode of a documentary as follows:

1. Once Upon a Time in Iraq, season 1, episode 3, “Fallujah,” directed by James Bluemel, aired July 15, 2020, on BBC 2, https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p08kr4ws/once-upon-a-time-in-iraq-series-1-3-fallujah.

If we then cited the same source again, we would use a shortened footnote format. For a TV show, this is usually just the series and episode name.

Pinpoint Citations and Time Stamps

If you reference a specific part of a TV show in your writing, you may want to give a pinpoint citation. But since TV shows don’t have page numbers like books and print articles, this means using a time stamp.

As such, you’ll want to give the hour, minute and second of the moment you’ve quoted at the end of your footnote citation:

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2. Monty Python’s Flying Circus, season three, episode 9, “The Nude Man,” written by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, directed by Ian MacNaughton, aired December 14, 1972, on BBC1, Sony Pictures, 2007, DVD, 00:15:45.

Here, the “00:15:45” at the end of the footnote shows us the exact part of the episode cited. A reader would then be able to look this up to check, for instance, whether we’ve quoted it correctly.

TV Shows in a Chicago Bibliography

Finally, if you cite a TV show in your work, you’ll need to include it in the bibliography at the end of your document, too. The format here is typically:

Surname, First Name, role. Name of TV Show. Season and episode number, “Episode Title.” Featured contributors. Date and channel of first airing. Medium or URL.

The main difference is that we give the names of the creators first, inverting the first name listed. This is so you can list TV shows alphabetically by with other sources that are listed by author surname.

In practice, then, we’d list the shows from the examples above as follows:

Bluemel, James, dir. Once Upon a Time in Iraq. Season 1, episode 3, “Fallujah.” Aired July 15, 2020, on BBC 2. https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p08kr4ws/once-upon-a-time-in-iraq-series-1-3-fallujah.

Chapman, Graham, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, writers. Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Season three, episode 9, “The Nude Man.” Directed by Ian MacNaughton. Aired December 14, 1972, on BBC1. Sony Pictures, 2007, DVD.

We hope this has helped you with citing a TV show using Chicago footnote referencing! And if you’d like an expert to check the referencing in your work, don’t forget to submit your documents for proofreading.

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