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Film, theatre and television: Citing references

A guide to finding information in film, theatre and television. Includes links to key resources and sources of help.

General guidance

References in a thesisWhenever you refer to another person's work in your own essay, dissertation or article you must acknowledge them and give full details of your source. You risk being accused of plagiarism if you fail to do so.

For detailed information regarding the department's preferred format, consult the style sheet for referencing and citations in the Programme Handbook, available on Blackboard.

For help with citing specific types of publication contact your librarian (details below).

For general information on referencing, including an explanation of different citation systems, and guidance on citing specific types of publication, see our Citing references guide.

For advice on using references in your work, and how to use them to support your arguments, consult the guidance on the Study Advice website or make an appointment with them.

MHRA Author-Date referencing for Film Theatre & Television

Film, Theatre and Television prefers the Author-Date version of MHRA referencing.

In-text citations are brief (including author, year and page number where appropriate) and placed in brackets in the body of the text NOT in footnotes. Full details (including editions and translation details if appropriate) are listed in the Bibliography, alphabetically by author / editor's surname. Films, TV programmes are listed separately in a Filmography and Teleography.

See the examples on the tabs across the top of this box for how to reference specific types of material.

Multiple works by the same author in your Bibliography?
If you have more than one work by the same author, in the bibliography put the works in date order and after the first work replace the author / editor's name with 2-em dashes, eg:

Stafford, Roy. 2007. Understanding audiences and the film industry (London: British Film Institute)
—— 2014. The global film book (Abingdon: Routledge)


For more information (but always check your course handbook first!):

Chapter 11, section 4 (for the Author-Date system), MHRA style guide (Modern Humanities Research Association) 


In-text: (Author surname Year: page)

In bibliography: Author Surname, Author Firstname. Year. Title of book (Place of publication: Publisher)


In Text: (Nieland 2012: 38)
In Bibliography: Nieland, Justus. 2012. David Lynch (Urbana: University of Illinois Press)

In-text: (Author surname Year: page)

In bibliography: Chapter Author Surname, Chapter Author Firstname. Year. 'Title of chapter', in Title of book, ed. by Editor Name Editor Surname (Place of publication: Publisher), pp. page-page


In-text: (Hark 1992: 158)
In bibliography: Hark, Ina Rae. 1992. 'Animals or Romans: Looking at masculinity in Spartacus', in Screening the Male: Exploring Masculinities in Hollywood Cinema, ed. by Steven Cohan and Ina Rae Hark (London: Routledge), pp. 151-172.

In-text: (Author surname Year: page)

In bibliography: Author Surname, Author Firstname. Year. 'Title of article', Title of journal, Volume: page-page


In-text: (Rushing 2008: 162)
In Bibliography: Rushing, Robert A. 2008. 'Gentlemen prefer Hercules: desire, identification, beefcake', Camera Obscura, 69: 158-191 

In-text: (Author surname Year)

In bibliography: Author surname, Author firstname. (Year) Title of website or webpage, <url> [accessed Date Month Year].


In-text: (Beard 2011)
In Bibliography: Beard, Mary. 2011. The Fall of the Roman Republic, <> [accessed 20 June 2012].

What if my website doesn't have a named author, or date?
For webpages without a named author, it's normal to use the name of the organisation / company who is responsible for the website instead. For example;

In-text: (Equity 2023)
In Bibliography: Equity. 2023. Code of conduct for auditions, <> [accessed 12 March 2024].

To find out the date of a webpage which doesn't list a published / updated date on the page itself, try doing a special type of Google search - follow the instructions in Method 2 on this Wikihow article

Google inurl search showing published date for Equity webpage


Films should be listed separately to other references in a Filmography.

You'll probably be mentioning the name / title of the film in the text of your sentence, and in this circumstance just put the year in brackets;

In-text: (Year)

In bibliography: Title of the film, dir. by Director's name (Distributor*, Year).
*it's not always necessary to include this


In-text: Title of film in sentence (1940)
In bibliography: The Grapes of Wrath, dir. by John Ford (20th Century Fox, 1940).

Television programmes should be listed seperately to other references in a teleography

In-text: Programme title (Channel, Year-Year)
‚ÄčIn telography: 'Episode title', Programme title, Channel, Date Month Year.

On the first mention of the programme, supply in brackets the channel/network and year span of original/first airing, eg.: 
My Mad Fat Diary (E4, 2013-); Friends (NBC, 1994-2004)
Where episode titles or song titles are mentioned, use single quotation marks, eg.:
‘The One with the Embryos’; ‘You Can’t Stop the Beat’
On their first mention, episode titles should be followed by the season and episode number, e.g.: 
‘The One with the Embryos’ (4.12)



In-text: 'A study in pink', Sherlock (BBC 1, 2010-) 
In telography:  'A study in pink', Sherlock, BBC 1, 25 July 2010.

Underneath your film / television still, or any kind of image, you need;

  • Figure number
  • short caption describing it
  • an in-text reference to the source of your image (the film / television programme / book / website where you captured your image from

Your caption should describe the image - so perhaps describe the scene / actors / characters / lighting depending on what your analysis discusses (but keep it short, you can put your full analysis in your paragraph of text and refer to the Figure number there.) You should also include the full reference to the source of your image in your Filmography, Teleography, or Bibliography.


Paragraph of text analysing the film drawing specific reference to what you are illustrating with the film still – say what you want to say about it (Figure 1.)






Figure 1 Vertigo Sea uses footage of nature, human exploitation and migration in an ecopolitical
examination of our relationship with the ocean (2015).


Vertigo Sea, dir. by John Akomfrah (2015).

Note – my example is not on general release, but if your film has a known distributor (eg 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures, Warner Bothers etc) then you should include the distributor before the year in the full reference in the Filmography, eg The Grapes of Wrath, dir. by John Ford (20th Century Fox, 1940).

These should be listed separately to other references in a performance list.

In-text:(Author surname Year)

In bibliography: Author surname, Author firstname, Play title, Place of publication: Publisher, Year of publication of the edition used. First performance: company name, directed by Director firstname Director surname, at Venue, Date Month Year. (see the front of the printed copy for this information).


In-text:(Churchill 1979)
In bibliography: Churchill, Caryl, Cloud Nine, London: Methuen, 1979. First performance: Joint Stock Theatre Group, directed by Max Stafford-Clark, at Darlington College of Arts, 14 February 1979.

What if I don't know the theatre and date of the first performance?

If you are unsure of performance dates and details, try using Theatre Record to look up the play / playwright - it's an online journal that records theatre performances with review articles.

In-text: (Author or Creator surname Year)

In bibliography: Author or Creator surname, Author or creator firstname. (Year) Title of video, online video recording, YouTube, DD Month it was posted, <url> [accessed DD Month Year].

What if my video doesn't have a named author or creator?
This is very common, don't worry, you can use the social media handle or name of the organisation who posted the video instead, as in the example below.



In-text: (Steppenwolf Theatre Company 2017)
In Bibliography: Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Antoinette Nwandu on PASS OVER, online video recording, YouTube, 20 April, <> [accessed 15 March 2024].

In-text: (Author surname Year: page)

In bibliography: Author Surname, Author Firstname. Year. 'Title of thesis' (unpublished doctoral thesis, University name) 


In-text: (Knox 2005: 89)
In bibliography: Knox, Simone. 2005. 'Text and theory : reading postmodern critical discourses and contemporary film and television' (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Reading)

If the thesis you consulted is online, you should include a URL and access date in the bibliography entry;

In bibliography: Ghosh, Shweta. 2021. ‘We make film : filmmaking and creative expression by people with disabilities in contemporary urban India’ (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Reading) <> [accessed 18 April 2024]

Tip! Double check the thesis you are referencing is a Doctoral (PhD) thesis. American Universities call Masters dissertations, masters theses, and PhD theses, doctoral dissertations so just make sure whatever is in your parentheses before the University name describes the correct level of study, doctoral or masters. If you are unsure, look at the information on the title page of the thesis you are using.

Get help from your librarian

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Natalie Guest
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Get my help with finding relevant books and articles for your research, help with accessing library materials and collections, referencing and reference management software.

Email me with your question or book an appointment

0118 3783415


EndNote logoWhen you do your dissertation you could consider using EndNote to manage your references. This bibliographic management package can be used to store references, and then insert the citation in your Word document, automatically building the bibliography for you in the correct style.

Find out more on our EndNote webpages:

For information on other options for electronic management of your references see our guide to Managing references: