How to Cite a PowerPoint Presentation in APA

How to Cite a PowerPoint Presentation in APA

Lectures, conferences, and seminars are treasure troves of information. Like research papers and journal books, they offer essential data and insights on a broad range of topics. Contrary to traditional literature materials, which include books, research articles, and conference proceedings, PowerPoint presentations or PDF slides come in a distinctive format. Although this is the case, it is still important that one cites it correctly, just like any other source used for research.

As such, this article will discuss everything you need to know about how to cite a PowerPoint in APA. It will also cover some information on how to cite various types of sources such as videos, images, and tables into your PowerPoint presentation. By the end of this guide, readers will easily be able to properly cite their sources of information in the correct format. 

How to Cite a PowerPoint Presentation in APA

  1. PowerPoint Presentation as a Source of Data
  2. Citing a PowerPoint Presentation in Other Documents Using APA
  3. Citing Sources from Other Documents/Studies in a PowerPoint Presentation Using APA
  4. Tips on Citing Sources for PowerPoint Presentations

PowerPoint Presentation as a Source of Data

PowerPoint is not the first program of its kind when it was first released in 1987. Among the presentation makers that preceded it were Hewlett Packard's BRUNO, later renamed HP-Draw, in 1979 and Lotus Freelance Graphics in 1986. However, PowerPoint was deemed one of the best. This is apparent from its massive 95% worldwide market share in presentation software since the late 1990s (Thielsch & Perabo, 2012). Furthermore, Microsoft claims that 30 million PowerPoint presentations are taking place every day (Mahin, 2004).

Over the past 20 years, this widely-known business tool has extended its influence to scientific labs and classrooms around the world (Horvath, 2014). Part of its success is owed to how effective it is in providing visual literacy to its audience, making content more engaging and easier to comprehend and digest. It also results in more interactive learning. This is through the use of multimedia tools with effects and animations, bullet points, graphics, video, maps, and pretty much anything that can be digitized.

Moreover, because a presentation can be broken down into single slides that can be freely arranged by the author, it is both flexible and modular. This makes it ideal for collecting information that evolves over time and distributing them to a wider audience.

With its many benefits, it is not surprising that PowerPoint racks up impressive statistics as presented in the following image.

This extensive use of the program only goes to show that it is highly likely for one to encounter PowerPoint presentations that can be used as a source for research. As such, learning to cite these presentations and how to APA cite a PowerPoint presentation properly are important. This way, you can:

  • Avoid plagiarism. Undoubtedly, the ideas and statements of other researchers may often prove very important to your own research. However, simply borrowing these ideas can be a recipe for plagiarism. By properly citing where these ideas came from, you will be able to relay these ideas to your readers while giving credit to your source of data.
  • Allow readers to verify the data. More often than not, academic papers are vetted multiple times before they are approved. By properly citing your sources, you can simplify cross-checking for peer reviewers and editors and ultimately, expedite the editing and feedback process. On another note, this will help readers to also verify the data that you used.
  • Help readers to learn more about the topic being discussed. There's only so much that can be covered in one research paper. As such, there may be data that you are unable to explain in full detail. With the help of citation references in research, you can help fellow researchers and students to locate your sources and learn more about the data you included in your paper.

How to Cite a PowerPoint Presentation in Other Documents using APA

The information you need on how to cite a PowerPoint presentation using the APA style guidelines and how to APA cite a slideshow includes these basic elements:

  • Author(s). The author is the first component of any APA citation. The author of a source can be a single person, a group, or a company. For a single author, you should write the full last name followed by a comma and then the author name's initial. If there are two authors, follow the aforementioned format and list authors in the order that they appear in your source. If there are more than eight authors, list the first six authors followed by three ellipsis points, then the last author.
  • Date. The date when the presentation was delivered is the second component of APA citation. There is no need to get the full date of the presentation. Just write the year of publication inside a parenthesis, followed by a period. If there is no discernable date, write n.d for no date inside the parenthesis.
  • Title of the Presentation. The title is the third component of APA citation. When writing the title, you should capitalize the first word of the title and subtitle, any proper nouns, and all significant words in the title. It is important to indicate the format of the source, such as video, PowerPoint slides, etc., after the title of the presentation. Write the format within brackets.
  • Venue Where the Presentation was Delivered. Another component that one should add is the venue where the presentation was delivered. This often includes the name of the event and the city/state and country where it took place. However, it might be important to note that this information will not always be available.
  • Retrieval Information. The retrieval information is the last component of APA citation. It helps your readers easily locate your sources. You can use the PowerPoint Presentation’s Uniform Resource Locator (URL ) if there is any.

With these components in mind, how do you cite a PowerPoint presentation source? One can cite a source inside a reference slide in the PowerPoint presentation using APA style by following this format:

  • Author, A. A. (year of publication). Title of presentation [file format]. Presented at name of event, location. Retrieved from URL.

There is, however, one key component of a citation from a PowerPoint presentation that makes it different from the rest. That is, in the title, the format of the source is always “PowerPoint Slides.” It is enclosed within brackets so it would look like [PowerPoint slides]. This is added after the title of the source. This is how to cite PowerPoint slides.

So in summary, how to reference a PowerPoint slide deck or cite a PowerPoint presentation means just following the standard APA format. State the author, date of publication, the presentation title [PowerPoint slides], and the retrieval information. Basically, it goes like this:

  • Author, A. A. (year of publication). Title of presentation [PowerPoint slides]. Presented at name of event, location. Retrieved from URL.


  1. Tenten, B. A. (2018). Outlining your APA research paper: An overview [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from
  2. Jones, A. B. (2014). How to include APA citations in a PowerPoint presentation [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from
  3. Smith, M. (2011). Introduction to APA Citations [PowerPoint presentation]. 2nd Annual National Conference for Researchers, New York, NY, United States. Retrieved from

Citing Sources from Other Documents in a PowerPoint Presentation Using APA

While the APA style formatting was originally created for written documents, it has expanded to include citation guidelines for digital publications such as PowerPoint presentations. There are two main points of interest to take note of when citing presentations, namely the reference slide and in-text citations.

Reference Slide

The references slide is the slide/s which lists all the APA citations within the PowerPoint presentation, save for a few such as figures. This is required if there are at least a few citations in your work.

Preparing a Reference Slide

While the reference slide is placed at the very far end of the PowerPoint presentation and is usually the final slide/s, preparing it beforehand is advantageous. For instance, it allows you to control the format of the references right at the start as well as insert your citations in the right order as you go along.

Making a reference list in a PowerPoint presentation follows similar rules to other studies with a few differences to accommodate the limited space of each slide. Some of the guidelines to follow include:

  • Titling the slide either “References” or “Reference List.” Make it bold and preferably centered.
  • Listing the APA citations in alphabetical order by author. If no author is present, the title of work is used.
  • Favoring the use of a single space for the entries. You may also opt to not using a hanging indent. This is to save space since slides have limited capacity.
  • If the reference list consists of more than one slide, the other citations are placed in the preceding slides. No need to put another "References" title.

APA citation - reference slide

An example of a reference slide. Source: Taylor (2017)

In-Text Citations

In-text citations are placed inside the contents of the presentation preceding the direct quotations, paraphrased words, images, tables, and other information to cite. It is typically comprised of only two parts—author and year of publication separated by a comma and enclosed in parentheses (Author, date). Although it is simple enough, here are a few things to remember in general:

  • If there are two authors, cite them both separated with an ampersand.
    • Example: (Smith & Johnson, 2015)
  • If there are three or more authors, list the name of the first author followed by “et al.”
    • Example: (Smith et al., 2015)
  • If there is no author, the title is used
    • Example: (“Ambulatory Surgery Centers: Pros and Cons,” 2017)
  • If the title is too lengthy, its short form is used
    • Example: (“Ambulatory Surgery Centers,” 2017)
  • If there is no date, use n.d
    • Example: (Smith, n.d.)

PowerPoint Presentation’s In-Text Citation for Different Types of Sources:

PowerPoint presentations use both texts and visuals to present ideas. As such, different types of sources could be used in the slideshows and all of them have to be cited accordingly. Here are the main types of sources used in a PowerPoint and how to cite them in APA style format.

Paraphrase or summary

  • Referencing an idea from another work only requires you to cite the author and the year of the publication.
    • Example: (Jones, 2018)

Direct quotations

  • Directly quoting from work requires the inclusion of author, year of publication, and page number separated by commas.
    • Example: (Jones, 2018, p.200)
  • If the quotation includes more than one page, the abbreviation “pp.” is used instead of “p” and the page numbers are separated with an en dash.
    • Example: (Jones, 2018, pp. 200 –202)
  • In the absence of page number, a substitute that makes sense for the source.
    • Examples: paragraphs (para 5.), table (Table 1)


  • This includes the in-text citation of audios and videos. They follow a similar rule with other citations (Author, date) except that a screen name can often be used in the absence of the author’s real name.
    • Example: (JJMaster, 2015)


  • This includes any image such as photographs, maps, drawings, flow charts, graphs, and others. All figures must be numbered in the order they appear using Figure x format.
    • Example: Figure 1, Figure 2, Figure 10
  • It is then followed by a brief explanatory caption or a note separated by a colon and the note is followed by an in-text citation. You can also hyperlink the image’s source using the in-text citation as the anchor.
    • Example: Figure 1: Man Exercising (Roberts, 2018)
  • The figure number can then be used to refer to the image in your text content.
    • Example: “The position of the man’s body in figure 1…”


  • Tables contain a set of numbers, statistics, data, etc. and are cited in-text more thoroughly than a figure. It includes a Table x identifier followed by an explanatory title separated by a colon.
    • Example: Table 1: Characteristics of Patients Undergoing Outpatient Surgery Based on Medicare Data
  • You are required to include a note directly below the table which provides any explanation needed for the title, such as symbols or abbreviations used. The note also contains a citation of the original source where the table was taken as well as copyright information.
    • Example: Note: Adapted from “Ambulatory Surgery Centers,” by Smith et al., 2018. Copyright 2018 by Health Research and Educational Trust.

Citing Tables in PowerPoint Presentation using APA Format

Citing a table consists of putting a descriptive title at the top and adding a note at the bottom. Source: Taylor (2017)

Tips on Citing Sources for PowerPoint Presentations

As seen in the previous section, citing sources in PowerPoint presentations entails following a set of rules that are similar to typical studies and documents but still with a few nuances. To make the process clearer, here are some tips on how to cite PowerPoint in APA:

  1. Ensure no source is left out by making the reference slide before the actual content slides.
  2. Make it easy for other researchers to cite your presentation by formatting the first slide as if it were the title page of an APA research paper. This will include five elements including the title, running head, author byline, institutional affiliation, and author note (APA, 2016 pp. 229)
  3. Some images such as clip art illustrations do not require citations.
  4. If needed, embed a video or images to your cited sources.
  5. Annotate web images and other figures so readers may track them down easily.
  6. Include full attributions for tables rather than in-text citations, especially when integrating tables.

Citation is an Important Part of Research and Studies

PowerPoint presentations can include valuable information for your research paper, article, or any other document. Just like with any other sources such as books, journals, etc., you also need to cite your sources to avoid plagiarism, promote collaboration, and establish authority. Fortunately, APA style citation is a great way to go through with citations. Although it should be noted that the complete APA style guideline is a lot longer than we can discuss here so reading more about it is recommended.

Moreover, those who choose to use APA for citing their sources are strongly advised to adopt APA research guidelines for their presentations as well. It is not a tall order since it can be easily done by including a few important parts. These include a title page, consolidated references page, in-text APA citations, and fully-cited slides for figures, statistics, and tables.

There are also other ways of citing sources for PowerPoint presentations such as MLA (Modern Language Assembly) and Chicago or Turabian style. Just like APA, each has its own strengths, weaknesses, and suggested field of application, which you can read more on to increase your options for citing sources. Furthermore, if you want to learn more about APA style citation, visit the official APA style website:

Lastly, if you want to make your citations accurate and in less time, you can make use of bibliography generator services. Feel free to check our best free citation generator listing.



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