Q: Suppose I can’t determine the author of a source, should I just cite "Anonymous"?
A: This is an outmoded practice. If no author is listed but an affiliated organization is given, consider the name of that organization to be the source, both in-text and on the references page.
Q: What if I can’t find either author or year? May I cite the source in-text just by its title?
A: Typically, yes. Supply the title (or a shortened form of it) in-text in quotation marks, then give fuller bibliographic information on the references page.
Q: When citing web sources, should I give the URL within the text itself?
A: No—this is non-standard and, frankly, comes off as pretty lame. Provide the URL on the references page, but handle the in-text citation as you would any other, providing author-year or source number. Unless the nature of the source as being web-based is highly relevant to context, the reader in the act of reading should be virtually unaware (no pun intended) that you are using a web source. Never attempt an in-text citation with something as informal and downright silly as "According to the internet . . ."
Q: Suppose a web page has nothing but a title on it, and I have no idea who authored it?
A: Then you would provide only that information available, in particular the URL and the date accessed, on your references page. As always, be sure to carefully assess the page’s quality and credibility too.
Q: What about information obtained verbally from a credible source?
A: In-text, handle the citation as you normally would, giving author-year or source number; on the references page, follow the person’s name with his or her title or affiliation (you could even supply the party’s mailing address), then the words "personal communication."
Q: What if I’m citing e-mail, or a newsgroup, or a gopher site, or a CD-ROM? How do I handle this on the references page?
A: For such specialized concerns, you need to consult a more specific style guide. Online, I can recommend online! a reference guide to using internet sources.
Q: I’m trying to return to a page I visited last week, and I get error messages. How do I find it?
A: After rechecking your typing, try truncating a portion of the URL. Cutting off the end of the address frequently takes you back to the page’s author and you can try relocating from there. Of course, the page might indeed be gone, entirely eliminated from cyberspace.
Q: How important is a small detail such as punctuation on my references page?
A: Consistency within your document is what matters. Professors rarely deduct points over such small issues, but they do expect you to pay close attention to them and be consistent in your practices.
Q: Suppose I’m citing an author who cited someone else? Do I cite the original author or just the one I read?
A: You should only formally cite the author that you actually read, although a narrative mention of the other source within an in-text sentence is often appropriate. For example: "Kunkle (2001) reports that a 1998 study by Edmund Eberly revealed . . ." Of course, if time permits and the circumstances suggest you should, you might try to track down the original source and interpret it for yourself.
Q: Are footnotes "in" or "out"?
A: They’re definitely "out." Try to avoid them. Journals rarely use them, preferring an endnotes page with explanatory notes at the end of the text. Even this practice is rare except in scholarly works, where the author chooses to offer explanatory side discussions.
Q: What’s the difference between a references page and a bibliography?
A: A references page contains only those references that were directly cited in the text. A bibliography page is more of a reading list—it contains references referred to in the text plus the chief publications that you consulted in a general way. Some people—even some professors—use the two terms loosely and interchangeably, but journals tend to follow the distinction I just provided.
Q: What if I can’t find a source in the library, but the computer tells me it’s on the shelves?
A: Ask a librarian (this answer applies to questions I haven’t listed here as well). My experience is that most librarians are terribly helpful and kind to serious, respectful students.
Q: I’m old-fashioned and I still believe in books, so can you recommend some print resources to answer specific questions about citing web sources?
A: Good for you. I highly recommend Electronic Style: A Guide to Citing Electronic Information, by Xia Li and Nancy B. Crane. Also, the most modern library editions of major style guides (The MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing; The Chicago Manual of Style) have thorough information and discussion on citing web sources.
Documentation APA Style
Citing Electronic Sources
Citing Electronic Sources
The last edition of the APA manual was published in 1994. Standards for citing electronic sources have been evolving steadily since that time. More recent style guides recommend eliminating some of the information called for in the APA standards described below (see Harnack and Kleppinger). They also provide formats for citing information not accounted for by the APA manual. We first provide the general principles of electronic citation as given by the Manual of Publication for the American Psychological Association, 4th Edition. Our detailed examples below, however, draw upon both the APA style and those who have adapted it to account for what they have not provided.
Important Note: Be sure to check with your instructor about which electronic sources he or she considers legitimate for the purposes of your research. In general, it is your responsibility to evaluate electronic sources carefully before you use them. Remember that anyone from your little sister to a rocket scientist can "publish" on the internet.
APA/Basic Elements of Electronic Citation
The APA requires that three general elements be included in electronic source documentation, in addition to all the other information generally included in standard source documentation. They are: 1) form of electronic media, 2) availability (location), and 3) date of access. Immediately following are general formats for citing electronic media in an APA "References" list and parenthetically in the text. Examples of specific types of citations may be found below.
APA / Citing Electronic Sources in References section
Each entry in a "References" list should contain the author, year of publication (in parentheses), title, and publishing data. Follow the regular APA guidelines for these elements. In addition, electronic citations should contain the 1) form, 2) availability (i.e., location), and 3) date that the electronic source was accessed by you:
APA / About Page Numbers
At this time, the APA does not have a style for unpaginated sources. For references which would normally require page numbers (such as journal articles), Li and Crane suggest indicating the length of the document in some way, either by counting paragraphs or estimating the number of pages. (See http://www.uvm.edu/~ncrane/estyles/apa.html.)
APA / Parenthetical References within Your Paper to an Electronic Source
Document sources in the text by citing the author and the date of the work in parentheses (see APA Manual, pp. 168-74). To cite a specific part of a source, indicate the page, chapter, etc. Use page numbers for quotations if possible. Omit them if not available.
Examples of Electronic Citations in the References Section
Online Articles (Scholarly Journal, Newspaper, Magazine)
Online Article in Scholarly JournalMoran, C. (1998, April). From a high-tech to a low-tech writing classroom: 'You can't go home again' [20 paragraphs]. Computers and Writing [On-line serial],5 (1). Available: http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/ ~ccjrnl/Archives/v15/15_1_html/15_1_Feature.html> [1998, Sept. 6].
Online Article in a NewspaperHarmon, A. (1996, Sept. 6). Have laptop, will track each blip in the market [12 paragraphs]. New York Times on the Web [On-line]. Available: http:// www.nytimes.com/library/tech/98/09/biztech/articles/ 06tick.html [1998, Sept. 10].
Online Article in a MagazineJaquet, J. (1998, June 8). Taking back the people's air [7 paragraphs]. The Nation Digital Edition.[On-line]. Available:http://www.TheNation.com/i980608.htm [1998, Sept. 7]. Taggart, S. (1998, Sept. 4). "DNA testing for the dogs [6 paragraphs]. Wired. [On-line]. Available: http:// www.wired.com/news/news/technology/story/14842.html [1998, Sept. 7].
On-line AbstractsWeintraub, L. (1997, Summer). Inner-city post- traumatic stress disorder. [On-line]. Journal of Psychiatry and Law, 25(2), 249-286. Abstract from: PsycLIT Accession Number: 1998-01611-002.
At this time, the APA does not provide specific instructions as to how to cite World Wide Web sites. The following examples are based on Harnack and Kleppinger's Online! A Reference Guide to Using Internet Sources and the general citation principles given above. Harnack and Kleppinger recommend the use of angle brackets around URLs and have dropped the APA's "Available:" designator. The use of brackets is fast becoming a general standard for URL citation. The date following the author name should be either the copyright or "last updated" date from the website. The date following the URL should be the date that you looked at the website.
Professional WebsiteSimons, M. (1998, July 1). Thomas Hardy Resource Library. <http://pages.ripco.com:8080/~mws/hardy.html> [1998, Sept. 7].
Personal WebsiteDuncan, D. (1998, Aug. 1). Homepage. <http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Coffeehouse/1652/> [1998, Sept. 7 ]. Klein-Smith, S. (1998, Aug. 15). Homepage. <http://members.aol.com/~sklein2/> [1998, Sept. 7].
Online BookDickens, C. (1871; 1998, Aug.). Great Expectations. Project Gutenberg. <ftp://uiarchive.cso.uiuc.edu/pub/etext/ gutenberg/etext98/grexp10.txt>. Shelley, M.W. (1818; 1995). Frankenstein. M.L. Grant. <http://www.boutell.com/frankenstein/>.
E-mail, chat groups, discussion groups, and messages from electronic bulletin boards are cited as personal communication within your paper. Cite the source in parentheses, using the communicator's full name (if you have not already stated it in your sentence) and the date of the message:
The APA instructs writers to avoid listing email communications in the Reference section (APA, 1994, p. 173-174). However, Harnack and Kleppinger suggest that some writers may feel it prudent to include some scholarly email communications in the references section and provide a format for doing so:Coyote, W. <firstname.lastname@example.org> (1997, April 30). Re: Acme products. [Personal email]. (1997, May 1).
The APA considers online postings to be a form of personal communication (see Email Communication). Harnack and Kleppinger suggest the following format for those who wish to cite them:Galloway, P. <email@example.com> (1997, May 14) Spamming. <http://lists.village.virginia.edu/ lists_archive/Humanist/v11/0031.html> (1998, Sept. 6).
CD-ROM (serial and one-time publication)
American Psychological Association Publication Manual, 4th ed. (1994). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association. Harnack, A., & Kleppinger, E. (1998). Online!: A Reference Guide to Using Internet Sources. New York: St. Martin's Press. http://www.smpcollege.com/online-4styles~help
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The information included in these handouts is, of necessity, generic. Keep in mind that the specific assignment from your course instructor should be your guide, and that you should seek clarification from your instructor if you have any questions.