Sometimes, the perfect source for a paper is found on a website – or, usually, a section or a page within a website. The exact formatting of citations depends on the style you’ve been asked to use (APA, MLA, Uniform/ICMJE Requirements, and so on). You won’t need all of the information below for every single citation style. But in general you need to try to find the same type of information you would in a print resource: author, title, publisher, date of publication, date accessed/retrieved/cited, and the URL.
Note that a page or section from a website is cited differently than the entire website, a blog post, or social media posts – for how to cite those, check out our citation guides or some of our other posts. For instance, we have one on social media citations. Here, we will go more in-depth on how to cite webpages or sections of websites!
- What this means: The organization responsible for providing the website is often the author – especially when it’s a government site, or a major organization like the American Psychological Association or the Canadian Diabetes Association.
- Where to find it: At the bottom or the top of the page/article that you’re using. If it’s not listed there, look on the “contact us” page or “about us” page of the website.
- Notes and tips: You may not find an individual author. This is okay (if you feel that the site is reputable and reliable). Sometimes, a citation style also doesn’t require this information – always check a citation guide if you’re not sure!
- What this means: You will likely need to find two titles: the name of the webpage you’re using, and the name of the overall website that page falls under.
- Where to find it: My example below demonstrates this: the webpage name is “Cultivating Gratitude” while the website name is Mind Your Mind. I will need both of these pieces of information for my citation.
- What this means: Often, this is just the name of the website – what you’re looking for is who produces or sponsors the site. In other words: consider who paid to have this information written and published online.
- In a big organization, like the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the publisher is the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
- Where to find it: Try looking at the bottom of the page! It may be next to the copyright symbol and date given.
- Some not-for-profit organizations (and even some for-profit sites) will have a sponsor who pays for their site. This information could be little, like an icon on the bottom of the page so look carefully!
- Notes and tips: If the website seems to be created and written by an average person rather than an organization or company, make sure to include “n.p.” in your citation where the publishing information should go (n.p. stands for no publisher).
Location of Publication
Not all citation styles require this information, and it’s often tricky to find. Try your best, and if all else fails, ask for assistance – a librarian will be happy to assist!
Date of Publication
- What this is: This refers to the date that the article or information was posted to the website. There may be only one publication date; however, if a page has been edited or updated, use the most recent publication date.
- For example, a page may indicate that it was originally published in 2018, but last updated in 2019; in this case, you would use 2019 for the publication date.
- Where to find it: Normally this information is found at the bottom of the page, next to the words “last updated.”
- If you see a website that has a date like “c2010”, that’s actually the copyright date, not the date of publication. If this is the only date you can find, make sure to include the “c” in your citation.
- If you can’t find a date of publication anywhere on the site and you still want to use it in your bibliography, most citation styles require you to say “n.d.” in your citation where the date should go (as in “no date”). There are some examples below that go through this!
Date Accessed / Retrieved / Cited
- What this is: The date that you looked at the website, which you should record in case the content is updated or goes offline. If you can’t remember the exact date that you looked at it, estimate!
- If you look at it more than once, use the most recent date that you accessed the information.
URL / Location
Check the citation style to see how this is represented! Some citation styles will request the URL, and others simply the “location” of the material… which also means the URL that someone could link to in order to access the material.
This one is specific to ICMJE style – you may need to count how many paragraphs or “screens” the post takes up. For the paragraphs, simple enough; for screens, you want to think about how many times you would need to “screenshot” the posts in order to read the full article.
Here you will find examples of how to cite the same online resource, but in 3 different citation styles. Also given are the templates that you would need to fill out. For more information, see our citation guides! The website page is “What is a Dietician?” from Unlockfood.ca – the page at the time of writing this article had last been updated April 16, 2019.
Author, A. A. (Date). Title of webpage. In title of website. Retrieved from URL.
Dieticians of Canada (2019). What is a dietician? In UnlockFood.ca. Retrieved from http://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Nutrition-Month/What-is-a-Dietitian
Author, first name. “Title of source or page”. Title of Site. Publisher, date, location.
Dieticians of Canada. “What is a dietician?”. Unlockfood.ca. Dieticians of Canada, 2019, Ontario. http://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Nutrition-Month/What-is-a-Dietitian
A note: The location of publication was determined by checking a few different sources. In the Terms and Conditions section, it was noted that Ontario laws would be used to interpret parts of the Terms – therefore, it’s a fairly safe bet that the website itself is published in Ontario. To get more specific than that, you might need to look up where the head location or locations of Dieticians of Canada is found; however, as it is a collaborative website created by a Canadian organization spanning across the provinces, it might be very difficult to determine a more specific location.
Title of website [Internet]. Location of site sponsor/publisher: Sponsor/Publisher; Copyright date [updated Date, cited Date]. Title of webpage/section of website; [Estimated length in screens or paragraphs]. Available from: URL.
Unlockfood.ca [Internet]. Ontario: Dieticians of Canada; ©2019 [Updated April 16, 2019, cited May 2, 2019]. What is a Dietician? ; [about 9 screens]. Available from: http://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Nutrition-Month/What-is-a-Dietitian
This article was originally written by Heather Campbell in November 2010, and has been updated and partially re-written in May 2019 by Sarah Woloschuk.