Bibliography For A Documentary

While you might think of books and journal articles as the go-to sources when writing essays, documentaries can also be a great source of information—and they can also serve as a form of entertainment. Citing a documentary might seem more complicated than citing a textbook, but we’ve put together this handy guide on how to cite a documentary to make the process a bit easier for you.

As an example, we’ve cited “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”—a great Netflix documentary by David Gelb about a legendary Tokyo sushi chef—in three different styles: MLA 8, APA and Chicago.

To cite a documentary properly, you must take the following pieces of information into consideration:

  1. Documentary title
  2. Name of the documentary director
  3. Any performers in the documentary
  4. Documentary producers
  5. Title of the site, database, or streaming service that the documentary was found on (if applicable)
  6. Name of the production company
  7. Publication date
  8. City where the production company is based
  9. URL for the documentary

Depending on the medium used to access the documentary, you may need to do additional research to find all of the information listed below.

Use the following structure to cite a documentary in MLA 8:

Documentary title. Directed by First name Last name, performance by First name Last name, Production Company, Year published. Title of Site, Database, or Service where movie was streamed from (if applicable). URL (without http:// or https://).

Here’s how the above example would be cited in MLA format:

Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Directed by David Gelb, performance by Jiro Ono & Yoshikazu Ono. Magnolia Home Entertainment, 2011. Netflix,

Use the following structure to cite a documentary in APA:

Last name of Documentary Producer(s), F.M. (Producer[s]), & Last name of Documentary Director(s), F.M. (Director[s]). (Year). Documentary title [ Medium (DVD, Video file]. Retrieved from URL

Here’s how the above example would be cited in APA format:

Iwashina, K., & Yamamoto, M.(Producers), & Gelb, D. (Director). (2011). Jiro dreams of sushi [Video file].  Retrieved from

Use the following structure to cite a documentary  in Chicago:

Documentary Title. Directed by Director’s Name. City of Publication: Studio, Year.

Here’s how the above example would be cited in Chicago:

Jiro Dreams of Sushi.  Directed by David Gelb. New York: Magnolia Home Entertainment, 2011.

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This is a list of reference works on documentary films.


  • Aitken, Ian (24 September 1992). Film and Reform: John Grierson and the Documentary Film Movement. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0-415-08121-4. 
  • Aitken, Ian, ed. (1998). The Documentary Film Movement: An Anthology. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 978-0-7486-0948-2. 
  • Aitken, Ian, ed. (16 November 2012). The Concise Routledge Encyclopedia of the Documentary Film. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0-415-59642-8. 
  • Alexander, William (1981). Film on the Left: American Documentary Film from 1931 to 1942. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-10111-8. 
  • Alter, Nora M. (14 August 2002). Projecting History: German Nonfiction Cinema, 1967-2000. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-06812-8. 
  • Aufderheide, Patricia (27 October 2007). Documentary Film: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-983998-8. 
  • Baker, Maxine (2006). Documentary in the Digital Age. Taylor & Francis US. ISBN 978-0-240-51688-2. 
  • Barnouw, Erik (7 January 1993). Documentary: A History of the Non-Fiction Film (2 ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-507898-5. 
  • Barsam, Richard Meran (1992). Nonfiction Film: A Critical History. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-20706-7. 
  • Barson, Tanya; Morris, Lynda; Nash, Mark (2006). Making history: art and documentary in Britain from 1929 to now. Tate Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85437-682-4. 
  • Beattie, Keith (4 September 2004). Documentary Screens: Non-Fiction Film and Television. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-333-74117-7. 
  • Benson, Thomas W.; Snee, Brian J., eds. (23 May 2008). The Rhetoric of the New Political Documentary. SIU Press. ISBN 978-0-8093-2836-9. 
  • Berry, Chris; Lu, Xinyu; Rofel, Lisa, eds. (1 December 2010). The New Chinese Documentary Film Movement: For the Public Record. Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 978-988-8028-51-1. 
  • Bloom, Peter J. (12 March 2008). French Colonial Documentary: Mythologies of Humanitarianism. U of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-4628-9. 
  • Boon, Timothy (2008). Films of Fact: A History of Science in Documentary Films and Television. Wallflower. ISBN 978-1-905674-37-4. 
  • Bruzzi, Stella (2000). New Documentary: A Critical Introduction. Psychology Press. ISBN 978-0-415-18296-6. 
  • Bryant, Marsha (1997). Auden and Documentary in the 1930s. University Press of Virginia. ISBN 978-0-8139-1756-6. 
  • Bullert, B.J. (1 December 1997). Public Television: Politics and the Battle over Documentary Film. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 978-0-8135-2470-2. 
  • Burton, Julianne (15 September 1990). The Social Documentary in Latin America. University of Pittsburgh Pre. ISBN 978-0-8229-5419-4. 
  • Chapman, Jane L. (15 September 2009). Issues in Contemporary Documentary. Polity. ISBN 978-0-7456-4009-9. 
  • Chris, Cynthia (14 March 2006). Watching Wildlife. U of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-4547-3. 
  • Chu, Yingchi (3 August 2007). Chinese Documentaries: From Dogma to Polyphony. Psychology Press. ISBN 978-0-415-37570-2. 
  • Cooper, Sarah (2006). Selfless Cinema?: Ethics And French Documentary. Legenda. ISBN 978-1-904713-12-8. 
  • Corner, John (15 November 1996). The Art of Record: A Critical Introduction to Documentary. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-4687-2. 
  • Cousins, Mark; MacDonald, Kevin, eds. (2006). Imagining Reality: The Faber Book of Documentary. Faber & Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-22514-9. 
  • Cowie, Elizabeth (2 March 2011). Recording Reality, Desiring the Real. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-4549-7. 
  • Culbert, David (1990). Film and Propaganda in America: A Documentary History. Greenwood Publishing Group. 
  • Cunningham, Megan (1 July 2005). The Art Of The Documentary: Ten Conversations With Leading Directors, Cinematographers, Editors, And Producers. New Riders. ISBN 978-0-321-31623-3. 
  • Dibbets, Karel; Hogenkamp, Bert, eds. (1995). Film and the First World War. Amsterdam University Press. ISBN 978-90-5356-064-8. 
  • Druick, Zoë (22 February 2007). Projecting Canada: Government Policy and Documentary Film at the National Film Board. McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP. ISBN 978-0-7735-3185-7. 
  • Ellis, Jack C. (1 January 1989). The documentary idea: a critical history of English-language documentary film and video. Prentice Hall. ISBN 978-0-13-217142-7. 
  • Gaines, Jane M.; Renov, Michael, eds. (1 July 1999). Collecting Visible Evidence. U of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-3136-0. 
  • Girgus, Sam B. (17 October 2002). America on Film: Modernism, Documentary, and a Changing America. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-00931-7. 
  • Goldsmith, David (3 August 2003). Documentary Makers: Interviews with 15 of the Best in the Business. Rotovision. ISBN 978-2-88046-730-2. 
  • Grant, Barry Keith; Sloniowski, Jeannette, eds. (1998). Documenting the Documentary: Close Readings of Documentary Film and Video. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 978-0-8143-2639-8. 
  • Grierson, John (1979). Hardy, Forsyth, ed. Grierson on Documentary. Faber & Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-11367-5. 
  • Griffiths, Alison (2002). Wondrous Difference: Cinema, Anthropology & Turn-of-the-century Visual Culture. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-11697-8. 
  • Guynn, William (1990). A Cinema of Nonfiction. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. ISBN 978-0-8386-3340-3. 
  • Haddu, Miriam; Page, Joanna, eds. (15 May 2009). Visual Synergies in Fiction and Documentary Film from Latin America. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-60638-8. 
  • Heider, Karl G. (1 November 2006). Ethnographic Film (2 ed.). University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-71458-8. 
  • Heider, Karl G.; Blakely, Pamela Ann Reese; Blakely, Thomas Dustin (2007). Seeing Anthropology: Cultural Anthropology Through Film (4 ed.). Pearson/Allyn and Bacon. ISBN 978-0-205-48355-6. 
  • Heyman, Neil M. (1996). Western civilization: a critical guide to documentary films. Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313-28438-0. 
  • Hicks, Jeremy (15 March 2007). Dziga Vertov: Defining Documentary Film. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-1-84511-377-3. 
  • Hogarth, David (1 May 2006). Realer Than Reel: Global Directions in Documentary. University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-71260-7. 
  • Holmlund, Chris; Fuchs, Cynthia, eds. (1997). Between the Sheets, in the Streets: Queer, Lesbian, and Gay Documentary. U of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-2774-5. 
  • Isenberg, Michael T. (1 October 1981). War on film: the American cinema and World War I, 1914-1941. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. ISBN 978-0-8386-2004-5. 
  • Ishizuka, Karen L.; Zimmermann, Patricia R., eds. (5 December 2007). Mining the Home Movie: Excavations in Histories and Memories. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-23087-3. 
  • Izod, John; Kilborn, Richard; Hibberd, Matthew, eds. (1 January 2000). From Grierson to the Docu-soap: Breaking the Boundaries. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-1-86020-577-4. 
  • Jacobs, Lewis, ed. (1 November 1979). The Documentary Tradition (2 ed.). W. W. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-01298-9. 
  • Jerslev, Anne, ed. (2002). Realism and 'reality' in Film and Media. Museum Tusculanum Press. ISBN 978-87-7289-716-5. 
  • Kahana, Jonathan (15 June 2008). Intelligence Work: The Politics of American Documentary. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-14207-6. 
  • Klotman, Phyllis R.; Cutler, Janet K., eds. (1999). Struggles for Representation: African American Documentary Film and Video. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-21347-1. 
  • Lane, Jim (26 March 2002). The Autobiographical Documentary in America. Univ of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 978-0-299-17654-9. 
  • Lay, Samantha (2002). British Social Realism: From Documentary to Brit-Grit. Wallflower Press. ISBN 978-1-903364-41-3. 
  • Leach, Jim; Sloniowski, Jeannette, eds. (2003). Candid Eyes: Essays on Canadian Documentaries. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-8299-2. 
  • Leuthold, Steven (1998). Indigenous Aesthetics: Native Art, Media, and Identity. University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-74703-6. 
  • Levine, Alison J. Murray (18 February 2010). Framing the Nation: Documentary Film in Interwar France. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-8264-3187-5. 
  • Logan, Philip C. (1 May 2011). Humphrey Jennings and British Documentary Film Movement: A Re-Assessment. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7546-6726-1. 
  • Loizos, Peter (1993). Innovation in Ethnographic Film: From Innocence to Self-Consciousness, 1955-85. Manchester University Press ND. ISBN 978-0-7190-3910-2. 
  • MacCann, Richard Dyer (1973). The people's films: a political history of U.S. Government motion pictures. Hastings House. ISBN 978-0-8038-5795-7. 
  • McEnteer, James (2006). Shooting the Truth: The Rise of American Political Documentaries. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-275-98760-2. 
  • McLane, Betsy A. (26 April 2012). A New History of Documentary Film: Second Edition. Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1-4411-2457-9. 
  • Mitman, Gregg (15 June 2009). Reel Nature: America's Romance With Wildlife on Film (2 ed.). University of Washington Press. ISBN 978-0-295-98886-3. 
  • Nichols, Bill (1991). Representing Reality: Issues and Concepts in Documentary. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-20681-7. 
  • Nichols, Bill (1994). Blurred Boundaries: Questions of Meaning in Contemporary Culture. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-20900-9. 
  • Nichols, Bill (7 December 2010). Introduction to Documentary (2 ed.). Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-35556-0. 
  • Nornes, Abé Mark (8 July 2003). Japanese Documentary Film: The Meiji Era Through Hiroshima. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-4046-1. 
  • Nornes, Abé Mark (15 February 2007). Forest of Pressure: Ogawa Shinsuke and Postwar Japanese Documentary. U of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-4908-2. 
  • Nornes, Abé Mark; Fukushima, Yukio, eds. (1 December 1994). Japan/America Film Wars: WWII Propaganda and Its Cultural Contexts. Taylor & Francis US. ISBN 978-3-7186-0562-0. 
  • O'Brien, Harvey (1 March 2005). The Real Ireland: The Evolution of Ireland in Documentary Film. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-6907-9. 
  • Pallister, Janis L.; Hottell, Ruth A. (2005). French-Speaking Women Documentarians: A Guide. Peter Lang. ISBN 978-0-8204-7614-8. 
  • Papazian, Elizabeth Astrid (12 September 2008). Manufacturing Truth: The Documentary Moment in Early Soviet Culture. Northern Illinois University Press. ISBN 978-0-87580-389-0. 
  • Pearce, Gail; McLaughlin, Cahal, eds. (15 February 2008). Truth or Dare: Art and Documentary. Intellect Books. ISBN 978-1-84150-175-8. 
  • Picart, Caroline Joan (2004). The Holocaust Film Sourcebook: Documentary and propaganda. Praeger. ISBN 978-0-275-98328-4. 
  • Platinga, Carl R. (January 2010). Rhetoric and Representation in Nonfiction Film. Chapbook Press. ISBN 978-1-936243-01-3. 
  • Ponech, Trevor (1999). What is non-fiction cinema?: on the very idea of motion picture communication. Westview Press. ISBN 978-0-8133-6703-3. 
  • Pullen, Christopher (January 2007). Documenting gay men: identity and performance in reality television and documentary film. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-2807-6. 
  • Rabinowitz, Paula (1994). They Must Be Represented: The Politics of Documentary. Verso. ISBN 978-1-85984-025-2. 
  • Renov, Michael, ed. (10 May 1993). Theorizing Documentary. Psychology Press. ISBN 978-0-415-90382-0. 
  • Renov, Michael (16 June 2004). Subject Of Documentary. U of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-3441-5. 
  • Rhodes, Gary Don; Springer, John Parris, eds. (2006). Docufictions: essays on the intersection of documentary and fictional filmmaking. McFarland & Co. ISBN 978-0-7864-2184-8. 
  • Roberts, Graham (15 April 1999). Forward Soviet!: History and Non-Fiction Film in the USSR. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-1-86064-282-1. 
  • Rony, Fatimah Tobing (17 September 1996). The Third Eye: Race, Cinema, and Ethnographic Spectacle. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-8223-1840-8. 
  • Rosenthal, Alan; Corner, John, eds. (13 May 2005). New Challenges for Documentary: Second Edition (2 ed.). Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-6899-7. 
  • Rothman, William (28 January 1997). Documentary Film Classics. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-45681-4. 
  • Ruoff, Jeffrey, ed. (3 January 2006). Virtual Voyages: Cinema and Travel. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-8223-3713-3. 
  • Russell, Catherine (21 April 1999). Experimental Ethnography: The Work of Film in the Age of Video. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-8223-2319-8. 
  • Sherman, Sharon R. (24 December 1997). Documenting Ourselves: Film, Video, and Culture. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0-8131-0934-3. 
  • Steven, Peter, ed. (October 1985). Jump cut: Hollywood, politics, and counter cinema. Praeger. ISBN 978-0-03-001964-7. 
  • Stubbs, Liz (1 August 2002). Documentary Filmmakers Speak. Allworth Press. ISBN 978-1-58115-236-4. 
  • Swann, Paul (28 July 1989). The British Documentary Film Movement, 1926-1946. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-33479-2. 
  • Wahlberg, Malin (29 February 2008). Documentary Time: Film and Phenomenology. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-4969-3. 
  • Waldman, Diane; Walker, Janet, eds. (1 March 1999). Feminism And Documentary. U of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-3007-3. 
  • Walker, Janet (18 April 2005). Trauma Cinema: Documenting Incest and the Holocaust. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-24175-6. 
  • Ward, Paul (2005). Documentary: the margins of reality. Wallflower. ISBN 978-1-904764-59-5. 
  • Warren, Charles, ed. (31 May 1996). Beyond Document: Essays on Nonfiction Film. Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 978-0-8195-6290-6. 
  • Waugh, Thomas, ed. (January 1984). "Show us life": toward a history and aesthetics of the committed documentary. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-1706-7. 
  • Winston, Brian (1 January 2000). Lies, Damn Lies and Documentaries. British Film Institute. ISBN 978-0-85170-797-6. 
  • Winston, Brian (15 January 2009). Claiming the Real: Documentary: Grierson and Beyond (2 ed.). British Film Institute. ISBN 978-1-84457-271-7. 

See also[edit]


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