How To Cite Movies In AP Style

Whether you’re writing an important research paper, publishing an article or trying to impress a hot librarian, it’s important to know how to cite movies in AP Style. 

AP Style stands for the Associated Press Stylebook, a set of guidelines for punctuation, grammar, spelling, citation and written usage of the English language. AP Style is used by the largest news organization in the world, The Associated Press, as well as other newspapers, magazines and journals across the globe. If you’re looking for a set of rules to write by, AP Style is a safe and well-respected choice.

The guidelines for citing movies in AP style are simple.

  1. Put quotation marks around the title. For example, “There’s Something About Mary.” Don’t underline the title and don’t capitalize all the letters in quotation marks.
  2. Always capitalize the first and last words of the title, no matter what they are. For example: “Run, Fatboy, Run” is an appropriate citation. “Run, Fatboy, run” is not.
  3. Capitalize all the principal words and all the verbs, prepositions and conjunctions with four or more letters. This is where citing a movie in AP Style can get a little tricky. Prepositions like on, at, for, to, in, by and up would only be capitalized if they were the first or last word in the movie title. Examples: “Up in the Air,” “The Break-Up,” “The Lord of the Rings.”
  4. If you’re citing a foreign movie title, translate it into English. Jean-Luc Godard’s film “Masculin Feminin” would be cited as “Masculine Feminine.” “Les Parapluies de Cherbourg” would be “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.” The exception would be if the American public knows the movie by its foreign name. Examples would be “Cinema Paradiso” or “Y Tu Mamá También.”

Now that you know the rules, cite away and add some cinematic flare to your piece. A term paper would be nothing without a citation from “National Lampoon’s Van Wilder” and your quarterly report could really benefit from an “Office Space” reference or two.

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