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Communication Studies 210 & 240: Public Speaking & Business/Professional Communication

This guide provides resources for finding, evaluating and citing sources.

Part 3: Citing Sources in a Speech

Citations:  Why Use Them?

When you write a paper, you provide in-text citations so that your readers know where you are getting your information. Similarly, when you provide in-text citations in your speech you are helping your listeners - and yourself.


  • make you more convincing as a speaker. Referencing credible sources shows that you have take the time to research and reflect upon your topic
  • enable your audience to verify your sources and to go back to read or view them for themselves, if they have an interest in learning more
  • help you avoid plagiarism, or the act of taking credit for someone else's words or ideas

As with a written paper, in addition to your in-text or oral citations, your instructor may also ask you to provide a bibliography with a list of the sources you cited in your speech. If you are giving a presentation with slides, you should include a bibliography with all of your sources at the end of your slide show.

Citations:  What is Involved?

A citation, or reference to a source, is sometimes called an oral footnote when it is provided in a speech. It is also known an in-text citation because you're giving listeners information about your source at the time during the speech in which you mention that source, rather than in a list at the very end.

When you cite a fact, figure, idea or opinion that is not your own in a speech, give listeners:MLK March on Washington

1.  the name of the person or organization who produced the information
2.  the credentials of the person or organization referenced (e.g. "a
National Institutes of Health researcher")**
3.  the date the information was originally published or shared
4.  where the information was originally announced or published
(e.g. "an opinion column published in the Oct. 15, 2014 edition of The Wall Street Journal')            

Above: Martin Luther King, Jr., at the Civil Rights March on Washington. From the U.S. National Archives.
If you quote Dr. King, for example,
make sure you credit him in your speech.

**A Note about Abbreviations

 It is a good practice to state an organization's or entity's full name rather than an abbreviation or acronym the first time that you reference it, unless it is widely known by the general public or your specific audience. For instance, stating "the National Institutes for Health" or "the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention", rather than "the NIH" or "the CDC" can help ensure that you don't lose audience members as they try to interpret the acronym. For a University of Tennessee audience, a reference to "UT" or "UTK" may be fine, but if you are speaking outside of the University, other audience members may not immediately grasp the abbreviation. 

Scroll down this page to see examples of using good oral footnotes.

How to Cite Sources in a Speech: Examples of Good Oral Footnotes

>> Example 1

"In a September 2009 speech to Congress, President Obama stated, 'It has now been nearly a century since Theodore Roosevelt first called for health care reform. And ever since, nearly every President and Congress, whether Democrat or Republican, has attempted to meet this challenge in some way.'"

        - Name: Obama [first name not necessary if using a title]
        - Date: September 2009
        - Credentials: President [implied: of the United States]
        - Where Quote Was Given: A speech to Congress


>> Example 2

"According to a December 2012 Gallup poll, published on, 32% of Americans say that the cost of health care has made them put off medical treatment for themselves or their family."

        - Name: Gallup [name of organization who polled Americans]
        - Date: December 2012
        - Credentials: Gallup is a well-known and respected polling group
        - Where Information Was Given:


>> Example 3

"In 2008, Dr. Gerard Anderson, a professor at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Bianca Frogner, a researcher at Johns Hopkins, published an article about healthcare spending in the peer-reviewed journal Health Affairs. Even though the U.S. spends more than two times the median of what 30 other industrialized countries spend on healthcare, Anderson and Frogner found that life expectancy in the U.S. is much lower than would be predicted based on per capita income. Furthermore, Americans' health is not outstanding compared to other industrialized countries. In fact, Anderson and Frogner report that the U.S. lags far behind many other countries on some health indicators, including asthma-related deaths."

        - Name: Dr. Gerard Anderson and Bianca Frogner
        - Date: 2008
        - Credentials: A Doctor/Professor and a researcher at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
        - Where Information Was Given: The peer-reviewed journal Health Affairs

Information from: Valencia College Library