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How to Cite a Speech in APA Style

Speeches are valuable primary sources in academic research. Citing speeches in APA style requires specific elements: speaker’s name, speech title, event name, date, location, and type of speech. For recorded speeches, include the medium and URL if available. These details apply to both in-text citations and reference list entries.

Key Elements in APA Citations

When citing speeches, the core components of APA citations remain consistent but are adapted to fit the nature of the speech:

  • Speaker: The person who delivered the speech.
  • Date: The specific date when the speech was delivered.
  • Title: The official title of the speech, if available. If not, a descriptive title in brackets.
  • Location: Where the speech was delivered, including the event name and venue.

Gathering Information Before You Begin

Crucial Details to Collect

Accurate citation begins with meticulous information gathering. For a speech, ensure you collect:

  • The speaker’s full name and title.
  • The speech’s official title or a descriptive summary.
  • The exact date of the speech.
  • The location, including the event name and venue.

Tips for Accurate Recording

During live speeches, it can be challenging to capture all necessary details accurately. Here are some tips:

  • Use a recorder: If permissible, record the speech for reference.
  • Take detailed notes: Note down key points, especially names, dates, and specific phrases.
  • Verify details: Cross-check the event program or official announcements for accuracy.

Crafting the Reference List Entry for a Speech

Step-by-Step Guide

Creating a reference list entry for a speech involves several steps:

  • Start with the speaker’s name: Last name, followed by initials.
  • Date of the speech: Enclosed in parentheses.
  • Title of the speech: Italicized if it’s a published title; if not, use a descriptive title in brackets.
  • Event and location details: Name of the event, venue, and location.

For example:

Smith, J. (2020, March 5). [Keynote address on climate change]. Environmental Summit, Green Convention Center, Boston, MA.

Handling Missing Details

Sometimes, not all details are available. In such cases:

  • No title: Use a descriptive title in brackets.
  • No date: Use “n.d.” to indicate no date.
  • Unspecified location: Provide as much detail as possible.

Examples of Well-Formatted References

Doe, J. (2019, May 10). [Commencement address]. University of Learning, Graduation Ceremony, Springfield, IL.

Johnson, A. B. (n.d.). [Motivational speech on leadership]. Corporate Leadership Conference, Tech Hub, San Francisco, CA.

In-Text Citations for Quoting or Paraphrasing Speeches

Simplifying In-Text Citations

When incorporating speeches into your text, differentiate between direct quotes and paraphrases. For direct quotes, include the speaker’s last name, year, and a specific locator (if available):

  • Direct quote: (Smith, 2020, p. 5)
  • Paraphrase: (Smith, 2020)

Importance of Page Numbers and Timestamps

For longer speeches or recordings, using timestamps (minutes) can guide readers to the exact part of the speech:

  • “Climate change is our most pressing issue” (Smith, 2020, 12:34).

Real-Life Examples

Direct quote: “The future of our planet hinges on our actions today” (Doe, 2019, 22:15).

Paraphrase: Johnson (n.d.) emphasized the importance of proactive leadership in corporate settings.

Citing Recorded Speeches and Online Presentations

Adjustments for Digital Formats

Citing recorded speeches and online presentations requires slight adjustments. Include the format description and access information:

  • Speaker’s name, date, title, format, URL, and access date.

Including URLs and Access Dates

When citing online speeches, always include the URL and the date you accessed the material:

Doe, J. (2019, May 10). Commencement address [Video]. University of Learning.

Example Citations

Smith, J. (2020, March 5). Keynote address on climate change [Video]. Environmental Summit.


Why is it important to cite speeches in academic writing?

Citing speeches in academic writing is crucial for acknowledging the original ideas and contributions of speakers. It enhances the credibility of your work by providing a robust foundation built on reliable sources, and it respects the intellectual property of the speaker, ensuring their insights are properly recognized within the scholarly community.

What key elements are required for an APA citation of a speech?

An APA citation of a speech must include the speaker’s full name, the date of the speech, the title of the speech (or a descriptive title if no official title is available), and the location where the speech was delivered. These elements ensure that the citation is comprehensive and allows readers to trace the original source accurately.

How should I format in-text citations for speeches in APA style?

For in-text citations of speeches in APA style, you should differentiate between direct quotes and paraphrases. For direct quotes, include the speaker’s last name, the year of the speech, and a specific locator like a page number or timestamp (e.g., Smith, 2020, p. 5 or Smith, 2020, 12:34). For paraphrases, simply include the speaker’s last name and the year (e.g., Smith, 2020).


Accurate citation of speeches in APA format involves including speaker information, speech details, event context, and location specifics. Following these guidelines helps properly attribute ideas to speakers and provides readers with the necessary information to locate the original source.

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