How to Cite a Dictionary Website

Written by deborah booth summers
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How to Cite a Dictionary Website
Online dictionaries are convenient and easy to cite (presentation image by Cindy Haggerty from Fotolia.com)

Citing an online dictionary is much like citing any other online source for your paper or project. Most projects require citation in one of three common styles: APA, MLA and Chicago. Projects in social sciences and sciences usually require APA style, while humanities disciplines utilise MLA and Chicago styles. Make sure to note the headword, the title of the dictionary, the date the entry was posted or published, the URL and the date you accessed the site.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Internet access
  • Word processor

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Instructions

    Bibliographic Citations

  1. 1

    Determine the required citation style for your paper or project. Ask your instructor or professor if you are unsure.

  2. 2

    Locate the headword of the entry you searched. Usually this is the word or term in bold at the top of the page. For MLA, place the word in quotation marks followed by a period. For APA, follow the word with a period.

  3. 3

    Determine the title of your source, i.e., Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Follow with a period. For MLA, underline the source; for APA, italicise the source.

  4. 4

    Find the date the entry was posted or published. For many online dictionaries, the copyright date located at the bottom of the page suffices. Follow with a period. For MLA, place the year published after the source title. For APA style, place the year published before the source title.

  5. 5

    Include the date you accessed the dictionary and place it after the source title. For MLA, format the date as day, month, year, followed by a period. For APA, use "Retrieved Month Day, Year," followed by a comma and "from".

  6. 6

    Include the full URL of the site after the date retrieved.

    In-text Citations

  1. 1

    Cite the title of the entry in parentheses at the end of the sentence before the final period.

  2. 2

    For MLA style, place quotation marks around the title of the entry, i.e., ("canvas").

  3. 3

    For APA style, follow the headword with a comma and the date posted or published.

Tips and warnings

  • If you cannot find any of the above information, make sure that you are using a reputable online dictionary. Include all available information and make sure to include in-text citations as well.

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