These days most people are using the Internet to find the majority of the information for their articles, theses, dissertations and so on. This is fine, but it can be confusing when it comes to citing websites as sources. Reading a journal or newspaper article is fine as the author can still be cited in the normal way, with the website given in the reference list or bibliography as usual. But some information is just given on a general page.

It is better not to just cite the website page as most web pages still have an author, whether it’s a university, government, or the organization who owns the page. If you cannot find the author of the website anywhere on the site, then you can cite the title of the article. Citing the actual website should be a last resort as it means that the article read has no author or title to speak of. Here is a list of the information to be noted when looking at web page (from the OWL at Purdue MLA site):

  • Author and/or editor names (if available)
  • Article name in quotation marks (if applicable)
  • Title of the Website, project, or book in italics. (Remember that some Print publications have Web publications with slightly different names. They may, for example, include the additional information or otherwise modified information, like domain names [e.g. .com or .net].)
  • Any version numbers available, including revisions, posting dates, volumes, or issue numbers.
  • Publisher information, including the publisher name and publishing date.
  • Page numbers (if available).
  • Date you accessed the material.
  • Medium of publication.
  • URL (if required, or for your own personal reference).

Use this link when CITING WEB PAGES, as it is full of useful and helpful hints when citing web pages in the APA format, and the general information given here will also apply to the other style manuals too. If you look at other websites for the other main style manuals, they will give useful hints and information about how to cite websites. For example:

APA

Basic Format: Author, A. A. (Date of publication). Title of Page/Document. Retrieved from URL

Note: The title of the page/document is italicized.

Note: n.d. indicates that no publication date is available.

Web page without an author: GVU’s 8th WWW user survey. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cc.gatech.edu

Web page authored by an organization: Greater New Milford (Ct) Area Healthy Community 2000, Task Force on Teen and Adolescent Issues. (n.d.). Who has time for a family meal? You do! Retrieved from http://www.familymealtime.org.

And the pages numbers are cited in the normal APA way within the text.

Chicago – Website without an Author

Footnote: 9. “Band,” Casa de Calexico, accessed January 30, 2009, http://www.casadecalexico.com band.

Bibliography:

“Band.” Casa de Calexico. Accessed January 30, 2009. http://www.casadecalexico.com band.

MLA

Editor, author, or compiler name (if available). Name of Site. Version number. Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher), date of resource creation (if available). Medium of publication. Date of access.

The Purdue OWL Family of Sites. The Writing Lab and OWL at Purdue and Purdue U, 2008. Web. 23 Apr. 2008.

Felluga, Dino. Guide to Literary and Critical Theory. Purdue U, 28 Nov. 2003. Web. 10 May 2006.

With MLA, please note that they state whether the source is PRINT, WEB, etc and this is included in the reference.

Here at FirstEditing.com we have several editors who are familiar with research editing and will be to help you in the correct formatting of website citations. We can look at the reference in the reference list and help determine who the actual author of the website is; otherwise, we can indicate the best way to write the website citations. This way, your reference list and in-text citations will be written in the most informative way and will enable your readers to gain easy access to the information.

The internet has changed the way we research, from stuffy libraries to the world wide web academics are now more likely to find their research via google than trawling a library.

But when it comes to writing up all that online research, how on earth do you cite it? Everything that isn’t your original idea must be cited, failing to do so could result in you not receiving your degree or even being blacklisted by journals. Do you really have to include wikipedia (and yes, in some universities – using wikipedia is now acceptable) or any other website, academic or otherwise? The answer is, unequivocally, yes.

In fact, its right and proper to reference everything you get from online research. Research can come in all shapes and sizes, especially since the advent of the internet. Today, you can easily find relevant information on a blog, forum, or any other website. And everything, yes everything, must be citied.

So how do you actually go about it? Well, for in-text citations the simple author and date in brackets is still okay for websites. If you don’t know the author’s name, remember you can often find an email address on websites and you can always email and ask for a name. Otherwise, you include the title of the website your citing. For example, with blog posts:

If the blog owner is David Smith, and the blog post your quoting is dated the 5th June 2008, then you simply cite as you’ve always written your citations (Smith, 2008). That simple.

If you don’t know the name of writer, but you have the name of the website and the date it was first posted, then instead of the authors name you use the website (First Editing.com, 2010) like that. Don’t forget the dot.com!

If you don’t know the date it was first posted on the internet, then the standard acronym for ‘no date’ (n.d) is fine.

However, regardless of whether you use in-text citations or not, you will eventually have to write the full reference. For this, you’re going to have to learn to love the phrase ‘Retrieved From’. You’re also going to have to include the full, entire, website address. The copy and paste function is perfect for this, as you’re going to need to make sure its accurate too…in case anyone wants to check your sources.

Every academic style (APA, Turabain, MLA, Chicago etc) is slightly different, so remember to check your relevant style guide. However, for the most part, your reference will look like any other reference. Except, right at the very end, you’re going to have to include ‘Retrieved from’ and the full website address (or URL).

For example:

Smith, D “title of article”, (Date Published) Retrieved from: http://www.thewebsite.com

Some style-guides require you to place the date when you last accessed the website. For example

Smith, D “title of article”, (Date Published) Retrieved from: http://www.thewebsite.com, Last Accessed: 1/5/11

Not all style-guides require this ‘last accessed’ date, and that’s why its important to check with the style guide your supposed to be following.

If you’re ever unsure, or feel just a tad overwhelmed at the thought of checking every single citation for style-guide compliance, that’s what editors are for. Editors are aware of all the little differences between style-guides and already know which ones require ‘last accessed’ and which ones don’t. Research is increasingly being done online, but if you’re still writing references like you’ve been in the library, your editor will clean them up and make sure they look the way their supposed to. So you can just focus on your writing your research paper.

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