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Citing Internet Sources - Some Practical Tips

Essential Citation Information | Basic Essential Metadata for Your Own Web Pages | Useful Web Resources
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Some Practical Tips:

  • Apply a consistent style throughout your bibliography
  • Save and print a copy of a web page locally. It is in your interest to do so in case you need to prove a source after it has changed or moved. This also applies to Emails, Usenet postings etc.
  • You must obtain a sender's permission to quote an electronic message, especially if you quote their email address. Otherwise, you risk breaking both Data Protection and Copyright regulations. Many documents appear in several places on the Internet. Only cite those you have actually accessed, including the date of your last access. If there is a choice then choose the one likely to be the most stable and long-lasting.

(As an example of this, you might like to search for the following ubiquitous article: 'A Brief Citation Guide for Internet Sources in History and the Humanities' by Melvin E. Page. How many different places can you locate this in? And which would you cite?)

  • Electronic sources rarely have a consistent formatting or page numbering scheme. Try to be as specific as possible if quoting from a lengthy resource. (Some versions of APA style nominate that you cite the total number of paragraphs and the paragraph number of a specific reference.)
  • Author of the document? Many Web documents do give an author. If this is not explicit you may find the information in the header of the HTML encoded text. You can view this by choosing the option to View Page Source in Netscape and View Source in Internet Explorer.
  • If you cannot identify the author(s), use the name of the organisation responsible for the source (e.g. CTI Centre for Textual Studies, Loch Ness Productions, Glasgow University).
  • The title of a document? The title of a web page will normally be the main heading on the page, or in the blue strip at the top of the screen. Always cite the date you last accessed a source being cited. This is essential if a document is likely to be revised or to move or indeed to disappear from a site. For emails or newsgroups use the posting date to allow tracing of message through archives.
  • In Internet addresses punctuation is obviously important and the punctuation marks in and around a bibliographic citation may confuse the reader, hence the common convention of using < and > to delineate the start and end of a URL. Try not to introduce line breaks into citations. Placing the URL on a new line avoids confusion about whether breaking hyphens are part of the URL. If this is impossible, break the URL right before a punctuation mark, carrying the punctuation symbol to the next line.

Essential Citation Information | Basic Essential Metadata for Your Own Web Pages | Useful Web Resources
Return to Workshop Resources Index

HTML Author:Stuart Sutherland
This page last modified:10 May 1999

The URL of this page is http://info.ox.ac.uk/service/workshop/bibes-tips.html