How to Cite a Meme

Doge, Grumpy Cat, and Success Kid. You know you love them (we do, too). Memes like these are no longer just an Internet fad. They’re so ingrained in pop culture that you can now find books documenting their history and college courses that delve into their popularity.

As a result, you may find yourself including memes on works cited pages and reference sheets someday. But how do you cite a meme for academic or research purposes?

Believe it or not, citing a meme is surprisingly straightforward once you’ve gathered some basic pieces of information. If you’ve ever cited a digital image, the process is essentially the same!

Still, figuring out how to cite any medium for the first time can be daunting. For all of your “how to cite” questions, Cite This For Me is here to help! Below, we’ve compiled the information you’ll need to cite your meme—and we’ve also included examples of how to cite a meme in three different styles (MLA, APA and Chicago style format).

What Information Do I Need?

The information required for citing a meme varies depending on the citation style you’re using. Before compiling details, be sure to check what’s needed for the style in question.

Here are a few pieces of information you may need, depending on the citation style you’re using:

  1. Meme’s title. If there isn’t an official title, come up with a short description of your own.
  2. Name of the website the meme is located on.
  3. Publisher of the website.
  4. URL of the website.
  5. Date the meme was published (if available).
  6. Date you accessed or retrieved the meme.

Below, we’ll take a look at MLA format, APA format, and Chicago citation examples for the popular “Grumpy Cat” meme, which took the Internet by storm in fall 2012. For this example, we’ve found the meme published on a website called Know Your Meme, which compiles memes that have developed an Internet following.

How to Cite a Meme in APA Style

Structure:

Title of meme [Digital image]. (Year published). Retrieved from URL

Full citation:

Grumpy cat [Digital image]. (2012). Retrieved from https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/grumpy-cat

How to Cite a Meme in MLA Style

Structure:

Title of meme or description. Name of the Website, Publisher of the Website (only include if it’s different than the name of the website), Date published, URL.

Full citation:

Grumpy Cat meme. Know Your Meme, Literally Media, 23 Sept. 2012, knowyourmeme.com/memes/grumpy-cat.

For MLA formatting, make sure to remove http:// or https:// from the beginning of the link. Also, remember to italicize the title of the website.

How to Cite a Meme in Chicago Style

Structure:

Title of Meme. Digital image. Title of Website. Date published. URL.

Full Chicago style citation:

Grumpy Cat. Digital image. Know Your Meme. Sep. 23, 2012. https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/grumpy-cat.

When creating citations in Chicago format, if the date published isn’t available, include the access date in its place. Type “Accessed Mo. Date, Year,” before the URL.

Hopefully these tips will make the process of citing a meme easier for you!

The citation tool at Cite This For Me will help speed up this process by creating full and in-text citations—even if you need to cite something that isn’t quite as straightforward as a regular off-the-shelf book. Use it to create dependable citations! (p.s. It can also serve as a Harvard referencing tool.)