Citation, Documentation of Sources

Q. When creating a shortened note for a specific episode of a television program, what information should be included?

A. Let’s say you mention the third episode of the second season of the American version of The Office, and you add a note citing that episode. Here’s what that note might look like:

1. The Office, season 2, episode 3, “Office Olympics,” written by Michael Schur, directed by Paul Feig, aired October 4, 2005, on NBC.

After that, the episode could be mentioned in the text again without a note. But if you did want to add a note—for example, to cite a specific moment in the episode—you could do this:

2. “Office Olympics,” at 18 min., 5 sec.

Or you could use the series title (a good strategy when the episodes are untitled, or when the episode titles aren’t meaningful):

2. The Office, S2E3, at 18 min., 5 sec.

Either version of the shortened note tells readers that whatever you’ve quoted or described in the text begins eighteen minutes, five seconds into the third episode of the second season of The Office.

All this assumes you need a note in the first place. TV shows aren’t like books and other written documents, and readers aren’t usually expected to consult them for themselves. Even in a book about American office culture, the following information in the text wouldn’t always need a note:

Work as play is also the theme in “Office Olympics,” the third episode from the second season of NBC’s The Office, . . .

That’s enough information in most contexts to understand the source of the information—no note required.