Providing a reference to a website in a report is a relatively simple task, but given the wide variety of content available in websites, new conventions are currently under development to help researchers distinguish between sources like high-quality peer-reviewed online journals on the one hand, and individual blog posts on the other. The basics are the same, but it is important that you determine which style your report requires. This information is usually listed on the syllabus of the course you are writing for; if not, consult the instructor.
- Skill level:
Gather as much information as possible about the webpage you wish to reference. Specifically, look for the author of the webpage, the title of the website and the title of the specific page. If you are citing an online periodical (such as a magazine or a scholarly journal), be sure to record the name of that journal. If you have difficulty finding the name of the journal or website, see the next step.
Copy the uniform resource locator, which is the long address (usually beginning with http://) in the address window at the top of your browser. This URL can tell you a lot about the website, especially if you step up one level. For example, if the website URL is http://electronicuniversity.edu/apply/ and you type in http://electronicuniversity.edu, you will find the website that hosts the document you wish to cite.
Note the date that you accessed the website.
Record this information in your paper's documentation. The specific form and order of the elements will vary slightly with citation styles but will basically look like this: Author of page (if known, and it would be last name, first name). (Date of publication, if known) Title of article. Title of webpage (in italics or underlined). Retrieved from (URL). Date retrieved (date you looked at the document). For example, Barrymore, Fred. (2010) Frying with Grease. Good Homestyle Cooking. Retrieved from: www.highcholesteroltimes.org. Date retrieved: 1/21/2011.
Tips and warnings
- It's always wise to print the websites you cite in your paper and keep them with your notes. You might be called upon to prove elements of your research, and the website may no longer be available.
- Several citation schemes are developing more complex ways to cite online sources. Check the documentation styles in the resources below for more detailed information.
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