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Citations & Style Guide

Information and resources on how to cite references correctly.

Citing Online and Electronic Sources

When citing an electronic source, it is better to risk providing too much information rather than too little. Be sure that your reader has enough information to go back to your source if necessary. Although a citation to a publication in electronic format follows basically the same principles as a citation to a paper document, citing an electronic publication or content from a website may present a few peculiar challenges. For instance:

  • A document may only have a file name instead of a title or a login name instead of an author.
  • The content of a Web site may change frequently without notice.
  • The concept of pagination as it pertains to paper publications is usually absent in electronic documents and website pages.
  • Versioning may require additional information to uniquely identify the source, especially for content that appears in multiple formats, or across multiple sites or platforms, or in multiple iterations as with software and some data sets.

DOIs & Permanent URLs

DOI

Most citation styles prefer that you include the DOI (when available) for online sources such as articles. The term DOI is an acronym for Digital Object Identifier and unlike URLs, DOIs are uniquely assigned and will stay with the source even when the site structure or platform of access changes. 

The DOI is a numeric or alphanumeric string of text that may be used as an URL (or search term) to locate an online resource. The DOI may look something like this: doi:10.00/00.00/00000/0000, or this http://dx.doi.org/10.0000/abcd.00/0000

To locate the DOI, first look on the first page of the article. Other common places to locate the DOI may be the footer, the record page, or the publisher's website. If you are having trouble locating a DOI, try checking https://www.crossref.org/ or https://www.datacite.org/

Permanent Links

For online sources without DOIs, it is extremely important to make sure the URL used to point back to the source is not a search string or a proxy link. It is usually best to go to the publisher's home site if you are unsure whether the link you used to access the source is the permanent link for the source.  

Citation and Style Resources for Online Sources

APA Style

APA Formatting and Style Guide - Reference List: Electronic Sources (Web Publications) Basic guidelines and samples of citations for various online documents in APA style from the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL).

Citing Library Database Articles in APA Style Examples of citations to the content of full-text electronic databases from the Ely Library.

Citing Web Pages in APA Style Examples of citations to the content of Internet sites from the Ely Library.​

Chicago/Turabian Style

Chicago Manual of Style: Web Sources Basic guidelines and samples of citations for various online documents in Chicago style from the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL).

Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide General guide to citing in both the notes and bibliography style and the author-date style. Includes examples of citations to various types of electronic publications.

MLA Style

MLA Works Cited: Electronic Sources (Web Publications) Basic guidelines and samples of citations for various online documents in MLA style from the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL).

Additional Links

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