The Quill

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Dear Writing Fellows,

I have an essay I need to finish, but I need one more source. Would I be able to use a tweet from Twitter as a citable source?

Twitter Enthusiast

Dear Twitter Enthusiast,
As technology changes, written communication evolves, too. There is a lot of information that can be gleaned from Twitter, and MLA formatting has been changed to reflect this. So, the answer to your question is yes; you can use a tweet from Twitter as a citable source.

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To do that, though, you must follow the MLA style guidelines. When you cite the tweet within your paper, you should put the user’s Twitter handle in the parentheses where you would normally put an author’s surname.
Examine the following example:
“Both men and women soccer teams advance to FINALS! Games 10/29 Men at 12pm, women at 3pm” (@schoolcraftnow).
Notice that you also use the “@” symbol when referencing the username. If you only wanted to cite the second half of the tweet, your citation would look like this: “…Games 10/29 Men at 12pm, women at 3pm” (@schoolcraftnow).
Both instances use the Twitter handle, and the contents of the tweet is in double quotation marks. This is very similar to the way you would cite a journal or book source, but the only difference is that the username replaces the surname of the author.
The same username you use in the in-text citation also replaces the author’s name in the citation on your Works Cited page. The following example is the citation for the tweet used in the earlier examples.
@schoolcraftnow. “Both men and women soccer teams advance to the FINALS! Games 10/29 Men at 12pm, women at 3pm.” Twitter, 28, Oct. 2017, 7:00 p.m.,
Notice that the entirety of the tweet is referenced in the citation above. This is standard for the new MLA guidelines regarding tweet citations. The citation also states that you retrieved the information from Twitter, and gives the time and date that the Tweet was posted. Twitter is still an online resource, and a hyperlink to the tweet should be included in the citation.
One final note to take from the above example is the hanging indentation. It does not indent like a normal paragraph. In fact, all citations on your Works Cited page should have this indentation.
The evolution of both technology and written communication is a great phenomenon, and it is important to be aware of the changing guidelines in formal writing to reflect these changes. Hopefully this has helped broaden the resources available, Twitter Enthusiast.
Should you need any further assistance, feel free to stop by the Writing Center in the LAC. We would love to help you.

Best Wishes,
The Writing Fellows