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December 10, 2018

How to Cite Instagram in APA Style

Instagram heart TMcAdoo-smby Timothy McAdoo

We’ve joined Instagram! Follow us for APA Style tips, FAQs, and maybe even some contests! https://instagram.com/officialapastyle

How do you cite Instagram? Whether you're citing a photo, a video, a profile page, or a highlight, just include the following in your reference:

  • who (name and Instagram username),
  • when (date posted),
  • what (the caption, highlight title, or profile page title), and
  • where (URL).

Elements of a Reference to an Instagram Photo or Video
Instagram post annotated to show APA Style elements
Example References to Instagram Photos or Videos

APA Style [@officialapastyle]. (2018, December 5). Welcome to the official Instagram for #APAStyle! We’re here to help you with your APA Style questions [Instagram photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/Bq-A-dvBLiH/
Fox, M. J. [@realmikejfox]. (2018, June 5). It takes < than a min to learn how to save a life. Watch the video at handsonly.nyc #ICanSaveALife with #HandsOnlyCPR [Instagram photo]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/BjppDLDBxRF/
Public Interest Directorate [@apapubint]. (2018, May 12). Happy Mother’s Day!! “It is important for the son to have a close relationship with his mother while he is [Instagram video]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/BirIQFnnmzd/
  • in-text citations: (APA Style, 2018; Fox, 2018; Public Interest Directorate, 2018)

The Instagram username can be seen with the post. But, for the individual's surname and initials or for the official name of a brand or organization, you'll need to consult the profile page (by clicking the profile image).

Instagram date description showing hover text that provides the exact dateInclude the exact date of a post, as shown in the examples above. Instagram automatically shows the exact date for posts that are more than 1 week old. Very recent posts will give a description of the date (e.g., “1 day ago”); however, your reference should include the exact date. If viewing the post on a computer, rather than a mobile device, you can hover over the description to see the exact date.

Per our guidelines for citing other types of social media, include only the first 40 words of a caption.

 

Elements of a Reference to an Instagram Profile

Instagram profile page annotated to show APA Style elements

Example References for Instagram Profile Pages

Because profile pages are not dated, use "n.d." in the reference. Use “Posts” as the title.

APA Style [@officialapastyle]. (n.d.). Posts [Instagram profile]. Retrieved December 10, 2018, from https://www.instagram.com/officialapastyle
Star Wars [@starwars]. (n.d.). Posts [Instagram profile]. Retrieved December 10, 2018, from https://www.instagram.com/starwars/
  • in-text citations: (APA Style, n.d.; Star Wars, n.d.)

“Posts” is the default state of an Instagram profile page, but use “IGTV,” “Tagged,” “Followers,” or “Following” if you intend to cite those versions of the profile page.

Swift, T. [@taylorswift]. (n.d.). Tagged [Instagram profile]. Retrieved December 10, 2018, from https://www.instagram.com/taylorswift/tagged
  • in-text citations: (Swift, n.d.)

Elements of a Reference to an Instagram Highlight

Ig highlight annotated7

Example References for Instagram Highlights

Although each story within the highlight is dated, the highlight itself is not dated, so use "n.d." in the reference. Because the highlight can be changed at any time, with content added or removed, include the retrieval date with the URL:

APA Style [@officialapastyle]. (n.d.). FAQs [Instagram highlight]. Retrieved December 10, 2018, from https://www.instagram.com/s/aGlnaGxpZ2h0OjE3OTc2ODkwNTk5MTc5MTY1/
  • in-text citations: (APA Style, n.d.)

 

In-Text Citations

As can be seen in the examples above, in-text citations for Instagram (and other social media sources) match the surname or organizational name of the author as shown in the reference, but they do not include the username. This allows the in-text citations to match the references but also to be grouped with other in-text citations for works by the same author(s).

"...to learn CPR (Fox, 2017a, 2017b, 2018)."

"...from the American Psychological Association (APA Style, n.d., 2018; Public Interest Directorate, 2018)."

 

Hashtags

Hashtags may appear in the caption (and thus in your reference; see first example above). But, to discuss hashtags more generally, describe them in the text of your paper. For more, see our post on citing hashtags in APA Style.

Note: This post was edited after initial posting to update the highlight and profile references, which should include the retrieval date.

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