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How to cite a speech

by Harriet Wetton

All debater, writers, and students must know how to properly incorporate a source citation into their works and speech. The first thing to understand is how to cite a speech. What are the reasons behind citing and why do we need to cite in speech? Citing sources supplements to your credibility.

It makes you, as a speaker, appear that you know what you’re talking about since you are not the given expert on any topic. Although, you’ve done the research and you are going to cite those experts into your speech to make your work sound more credible.

Citing the source gives credit to the author

However, you can plagiarize in a speech just like you can plagiarize in a term paper or research by not giving credit to the proper author. But when you cite a source, you’re giving acknowledgment to the author.

Your main aim is to give the audience enough information that afterward, they could go look up that citation themselves.  Time does not allow you to read the whole bibliography, article page number, and everything else to the audience, but you can give them a small snippet so that if they wanted to check it up, they could.

Understanding Citation source

Here are a couple of examples to explain how to cite a speech. And these are common things students do during oral source citations.

For example, research done by XYZ shows that more deaths result from Hepatitis than from obesity heart disease combined. I don’t know who XYZ is unless this is a prominent person or the president of the United Nations or someone that everybody knows.

The correct way is to give XYZ some credentials. Research is done by XYZ at the Center for Disease Control. That’s acceptable. XYZ works for the Centers for Disease Control. That is a reliable organization. So that’s a good source citation.

Very frequently students cite according to Yahoo dot com, according to bing dot com. But Yahoo or bing or any other search engines, are not actual sources that you are citing. You are searching Yahoo or Google to get to that source, they are not the actual source. So, here is a better way you can cite it.

A study done in 2011 at John Hopkin’s University shows that more deaths result from Hepatitis than from obesity and heart disease combined. If the audience wanted to check that up, they could look up 2011 John Hopkin’s University Hepatitis and probably find that source pretty quickly.

Seventy percent of Americans are overweight or obese. A statistic or a number in a speech or a presentation is not enough, it sends up a big red flag because unless there is some credible survey certifying that statistic nobody is going to believe, Americans weight problems. Hence make sure you give the background for that numerical data.

Citation style in How to cite a speech

APA Style Citation

How to cite a speech in APA Style? You don’t quote the speech; you should find a credible source for the text. Then you reference the book, video documentary, website, or other sources for the excerpt. The reference format depends on the type of document you’ve used.

If you found Dr. King’s speech in a book of great speeches, reference be as below.

Smith, J. (Ed). (2009).  Great Speeches in American History. Washington, DC: E & K Publishing.

The in-text citation would comprise the surname of the author or editor of the source document and the year of publication.

Dr. King Declared, “excerpt from the speed “(Smite, 2007)

MLA Style Citation

Many times, a source is part of a bigger whole. For example, a magazine article is part of a bigger whole, the magazine.  For citation purposes, we call the bigger whole, in this case, the magazine, a container. While citing sources, the container is usually italicized and is followed by a comma.

The container method can be employed for different types of material.  For speeches, the work cited format can be the Last Name   First Name. “Speech Title or Address.” Title of Event, date in day, Month. year, Place of event, City. Type of performance.

The in-text citation is formatted to let the reader find the reference in the Works Cited page.  The essential parenthetical citation is (Last Name page #); however, since there isn’t a page number for a live speech or lecture, use a condensed version of the title of the speech: (Last Name “Title”).


In-text citation:

(Atwood “Silencing the Voice “).

(Stein, “Reading and Writing”).

When quoting a speech published in a book or journal you will cite that source.

Chicago Style citations are of two types

Notes and Bibliography 

The notes and bibliography system is chosen by many in the humanities, involving literature, history, and the arts. In this style, sources are cited in numbered footnotes or endnotes. Each note matches to a raised (superscript) number in the text. Sources are also typically listed in a separate bibliography. The notes and bibliography system can fit in with a wide variety of sources, including uncommon ones that don’t fit neatly into the author-date system


The author-date style is more common in the sciences and social sciences subjects. In this style,                sources are cited briefly in the text, usually in parentheses, by the last name of author and year of publication. Each in-text citation matches up with an entry in a reference list, and full bibliographic information is provided.

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1 comment

M.Mamoor Rasheed November 27, 2020 - 5:20 am

This article about “How to cite a speech” is clearing our thoughts about how refrences make your Research reliable.


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