How Do You Cite a Tweet in an Academic Paper?

The Modern Language Association likes to keep up with the times. As we all know, some information breaks first or only on Twitter and a good academic needs to be able to cite those sources. So, the MLA has devised a standard format that you should keep in mind. Its form is:

citation-style2_615.jpg

It's simple. Also, I just love the "Tweet" at the end. However, it's curious that no URL is required, especially given the difficulty of Twitter search for anything not said in the past day or two.

Here's a deeper look at the instructions:

Begin the entry in the works-cited list with the author's real name and, in parentheses, user name, if both are known and they differ. If only the user name is known, give it alone.

Next provide the entire text of the tweet in quotation marks, without changing the capitalization. Conclude the entry with the date and time of the message and the medium of publication (Tweet). For example:

Athar, Sohaib (ReallyVirtual). "Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event)." 1 May 2011, 3:58 p.m. Tweet.

The date and time of a message on Twitter reflect the reader's time zone. Readers in different time zones see different times and, possibly, dates on the same tweet. The date and time that were in effect for the writer of the tweet when it was transmitted are normally not known. Thus, the date and time displayed on Twitter are only approximate guides to the timing of a tweet.

Via Thomas, Matt (mattthomas). "This. RT @JenHoward How do you cite a tweet? The MLA is glad you asked. (You did ask, didn't you?) bit.ly/ykLfcQ." 2 March 2012, 2:21pm. Tweet.



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