Citing Internet Resources

When citing internet sources, you need to give as much information as you would for a printed resource (author, title, publication, date, etc.).

The biggest problem with citing a source you find on the internet is identifying the author, the publication date, etc. Sometimes the information just isn't there.

when authors aren't named, skip this section, if a corporate author is named, such as an association, institution, or government agency, use it in the author section

sometimes the title is not clear; it might be under a banner or logo at the top of the page; if you are citing the whole web site, you can skip this section, which is for a specific page

the URL should not be underlined - some word processors automatically underline URLs, so you might need to remove the underline

sometimes a date can be difficult to find; it might be at the very bottom of the page; when dates aren't provided, skip this section

Some Issues and Difficulties in Citing Web and Internet Sources

  • URLs, while they are crucial elements of most citations, are most often difficult to write or type and may change at any time
  • Web and Internet resources may be updated or modified at any time
  • It may be difficult or impossible to find a resource's publication or revision date
  • Web resources may not have titles, or the titles may not be descriptive
  • Web page authors may be difficult to determine
  • There are differences between the major style guides about the format of citations for Web resources
  • Dates are important. You'll see that some citation examples for references to the Web or Internet resources contain two dates: the date of publication or revision, and the date of last access.

Ways to find out when a page was modified

  • to find the date a work was last revised, see if the date is mentioned as part of the work; you will often see a line like Last modified: Tuesday, March 2, 2010 in a Web document, usually at the bottom of the main page
  • you may also see something like this at the bottom of a page: Copyright@2007-2011
  • if you don't find this information on the Web page or you want to verify that date that is cited, you can try this technique for determining the date of a Web page. When you have a page loaded in your browser, type the following line of JavaScript code directly into the location bar: javascript:alert(document.lastModified) - this will activate a pop-up box that displays the time stamp
  • if you are unable to determine the date of the page, you can indicate this in the citation by inserting "n.d." in the appropriate place

Determining Web Page Titles

  • the title is what shows up as a hyperlink in the search results i you use a search engine
  • you may also find the title by selecting View/Page Info, or View/Page Source; the title is specified in the HTML source for the page and doesn't necessarily show up in the text of the document as you view it with a browser.
  • there are cases when the title is uninformative or not descriptive; in these situations, the main heading can be used
  • some documents have no title (If a document doesn't have a title, you can construct one by using the major heading or the first line of text. You should enclose this title in square brackets to show that you created it.

Determining the author of a Web page

  • Look for the author's name at the top or bottom of a document; if it isn't there, there are a few things you can try:
  • if the document doesn't contain the name of the author or the institution, and there are no hyperlinks to Web pages that give that information, you can truncate the URL to the domain name to try to find it
  • you may find the author's email address in the document; you can use the browser's Find function to locate the @ symbol. If an email address is found, you could send a message and ask the person for more information
  • open the Web page's HTML source information by selecting View/Source or View/Page Source from your browser's menu. Sometimes the author's name may be viewed there

Citing a Web Page that is Part of a Larger or Complete Work

  • Many Web pages are parts of larger works or projects; in these cases you need to provide not only the author and title of the individual document, but also the title of the larger work, its editor, and the institution that sponsors the site (if applicable)
  • In many instances you will want to include information about the complete work in order to put the document in its proper context and to credit the institution that has helped to make the work available

Sample of MLA citation style format:

Aldous, Scott. "How Solar Cells Work." Howstuffworks. <> 21 Jun. 2010.

Bales, Jack. "MWP:Willie Morris (1934-1999)." Mississippi Writers Page. University of Mississippe. 19 October 2007. Web. 15 November 2008.

Waters, John K. "Unleashing the Power of Web 2.0." Campus Technology. 1105Media, June 2008. Web. 16 November 2008.

Houghton-Jan, Sarah. "Google Blog Search - Viable or Deniable?" LibrarianInBlack. 5 Nov. 2008. Web 16 Nov. 2008.

Wikipedia contributors. "Donor conceived person." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 7 Jun. 2011. Web. 15 Jun. 2011.

Phillips, Tony. "Hubble Sees Suspected Asteroid Collision." Science @ NASA. NASA. 2 February 2010. MP3 file. 6 February 2010.

Russia on Trial: Chechnya and the European Court of Human Rights. Human Rights Watch. Online video. 6 April 2008. Web. 16 November 2008.

Sample of APA citation style format:

Bales, J. (2007 October 19). MWP:Willie Morris (1934-1999). In J. Padgett (Ed.), Mississippi writers page. Retrieved from the University of Mississippi Web site:

Waters, J.K. (2008, June). Unleashing the Power of Web 2.0. Campus Technology. Retrieved from

Houghton-Jan, S. (2008 November 5). Google Blog Search-Viable or Deniable? Message posted to http://librarianinblack,

Donor conceived person. (2011, June 7). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:10, June 15, 2011, from

Phillips, T. (2010, February 2). Hubble Sees Suspected Asteroid Collision. Science @ NASA Podcast. Podcast retrieved from

Human Rights Watch. (2008, April 6). Russia on Trial: Chechnya and the European Court of Human Rights. Video retrieved from

to present relevant data about each site consistently, use a recognized citation format - citation formats are style guides that standardize how citations are written

two popular citation formats are MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association) - always ask your teacher which citation format they want you to use

Citing Electronic information in History Papers, Maurice Crouse

General Guides-The Library- University of California, Berkeley

Frequently Asked Reference Questions

Karla's Guide to Citation Style Guides by Karla Tonella

APA Style Help

What is MLA Style? Modern Language Association of America

Research and Documentation Online

Documenting Electronic Sources:Online Guides to Citing Electronic Sources - the OWL at Purdue

Journalism Resources - Guide to Citation Style Guides

Citation Styles, Style Guides, and Avoiding Plagiarism: Citing Your Sources

Easy Bib

Citation Maker

Citation Builder

Son of Citation Machine




Barker, Donald I. and Carol D. Terry Internet research Boston, MA: Course Technology, 2009.

Hartman, Karen and Ernest Ackerman. Searching and researching on the Internet and the world wide web, Sherwood, OR: Franklin, Beedle & Associates, 2010.

Hock, Randolph. The extreme searcher's Internet handbook: a guide for the serious searcher. Medford, NJ: CyberAge Books, 2009.