When citing sources from the Internet, try adding as much of the following in the same sequence:
- Contributor information
- Title of work (quotes)
- Title of overall website (italicized)
- Version / Edition
- Publisher or sponsor of website
- Date of electronic publication
- Medium of publication (web)
- Date accessed
Sources published directly online
Sources published directly online have no in print originals, and therefore, it is important to include online publication information (i.e. the website publisher/sponsor and date of electronic publication). If unavailable, for online only sources, MLA7 suggests writing “N.p, n.d.” which means no publisher and no date, respectively. We believe adding such place holders is unnecessary, as it provides no information, and the lack of information can be assumed by its absence in the citation.
Citing an article from an online only resource
Friedland, Lois. “Top 10 Natural and Wildlife Adventure Travel Tips.” About.com. New York Times Company, 22 Sept. 2008. Web. 25 Sept. 2008.
Citing an entire website with no identifiable electronic publication date
EasyBib.com. Chegg, n.d. Web. 8. 2016.
Note: that newspaper and magazines websites are considered non-periodical, directly published online sources even if they have in-print copies. Follow the published directly online format.
Citing an article from an online only news source
Chen, Stephanie. “Growing up is Hard with Mom in Prison” CNN.com. Cable News Network, 7 May 2009. Web. 8 May 2009.
Note: Many times, the publisher’s name is the same as the online newspaper name.
Citing an article from an online newspaper
Shorto, Russell. “Going Dutch.” New York Times. New York Times, 3 May 2009. Web. 8 May 2009.
Note: Some online only sources have publication information unique to its source type, such as online only journals (volume & issue information). Follow the journal format and add information on the date accessed.
Citing an online only journal
Glotzer, Richard and Anne Federlein. “Miles that Bind: Commuter Marriage and Family Strength.” Michigan Family Review 12 (2007): 7-31. Web. 8 Apr. 2009.
Sources published indirectly online
As opposed to some sources published by a website (direct), other sources may be originally in print, or in another medium, and found online. Cite these sources as you would in their original form, and then add as much relevant web information as possible (website title, publisher / sponsor, date of electronic publication, medium, and date accessed). However, because the source was not published by the website, you do not have to use the “N.p, n.d.” placeholders if no website publisher or date of electronic publication is available.
Citing a book originally in print found online
Catton, Bruce. The Civil War. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2005. Google Book Search. Web. 15 May 2008.
Citing a newsletter found online with no page information
Puzzanchera, Charles. “Juvenile Arrests 2007.” Juvenile Justice Bulletin (Apr. 2009): n. pag. National Criminal Justice Reference Service. Web. 8 May 2009.
Citing a video found online
West, Kanye. Amazing. Prod. Hype Williams. Roc-A-Fella Records, 2009. YouTube. Web. 8 Feb. 2009.
Citing a painting viewed online
Picasso. Pablo. Three Musicians. 1921.ArtQuotes.net. Web. 5 Apr. 2006.
Citing a musical recording listened to online, with no discernible manufacturer or date
Park, Obadiah. “Hey Ya.” N.d. TheSixtyOne.com. Web. 10 Feb. 2007.
Citing a digital image
Hopper, Angie. Hedgehog. Digital Image.Flickr. Yahoo! Inc., 22 July 2007. Web. 26 Feb. 2013.
Note: In the above example the title is not in quotes because it is a description of the digital image. The URL was truncated to the search URL because it was too long and complicated.
Citing an originally in print journal article found in a database
Ahn, Hyunchul, and Kyoung-jae Kim. “Using Genetic Algorithms to Optimize Nearest Neighbors for Data Mining.” Annals of Operations Research 263.1 (2008): 5-18. Academic Search Premier. Web. 25 Sept. 2008.
Note: Sources found in online databases typically have been published elsewhere. Include as much as the original publication information as possible, and then add the database name, medium (web), and the date accessed.
There are certain things no one tells you (usually) when you are a university student. You are just expected to know them. When you learn them, suddenly it is as if you are part of an inner circle of respected peers who accept you… but you are not really sure how you got there. The devil is in the details. What sets rookies apart from experts is deep knowledge of details and sublties that others overlook or gloss over. Knowing the difference between a citation and a reference is one of those subtle details that moves you from the category of “novice researcher” to “respected researcher”.
It’s one of those things that you don’t really need to know — until you really want to be taken seriously among a group of experts. It’s akin to car buffs who know the difference between a supercharger and a turbocharger. Unless you are a “gear head” you don’t need to know. But if you want to be taken seriously in that social circle, you might be shunned if you didn’t know.
Regardless of your field, one key element that sets the experts apart from everyone else is their understanding of details in various elements of our work.
For students and scholars, once of these subtleties is knowing the difference between a citation and a reference:
A specific source that you mention in the body of your paper. The format of the citation may change depending on the style you use (e.g. MLA and APA) and the way that you weave the citation into your writing, but the basic elements of the citation that you need to include are:
- Name of the author(s)
- Year of publication
- Page number or page range
If you quote a source directly you must include the exact page number in your citation or it is incomplete.
This is a list of the the sources you have cited. The references come at the end of your paper. In APA style, this is not a list of “works consulted”. Every source that is listed in your references also needs to be cited in the body of your paper.
Every source listed in your references should be accessible by others who read your work. Think of it as a trail of breadcrumbs that you leave for readers to show them where they can go to find the original source material for themselves.
In APA style, not all work that is cited necessarily goes into the references. For example, personal communications get cited in the body of your paper, to show the reader that you have a source for your information. But if the reader can not track that source as a primary document (because, for example, the information is contained within a private e-mail between you and someone else), then it does not go into the reference list.
Alert! It is not very common that sources are cited but not referenced. Use sources such as personal communications sparingly, if at all. The more credible sources you have in your references, the better quality your work will be perceived as having.
In general, there should be an exact match between the sources you cite in the body of your paper and those that appear in your references.
The actual books, articles and other materials you consult are called your sources of information. You need to know how to cite and reference all your sources correctly.
Now you know one of the subtle differences of of terms used in scholarship that sets apart the experts from the rookies. When you use the terms correctly, those who know will quietly nod their head and accept you a member of the scholarly community.
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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.
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