Apa Bibliography Page Title Wordpress

How to Cite Online Sources

As a student, professional writer, or even blogger, you probably know all about citing publications and books, but how much do you know about citing online sources?

In today’s world, where most of us turn to the Internet to find information, it’s not unusual to find an online source that has a quote or other text relevant to the paper you’re working on.

Even if you’re writing a blog post on a personal site, referencing another website can save you a lot of legal hassle down the road.

To help you out, we’ve put together this post that will show you how to properly cite online sources in APA and MLA Style.

Citing Online Resources Using APA Style

The APA (American Psychology Association) Style is mostly used to cite sources within the social sciences.

In-Text Citations

1. If you are referencing an idea from a publication, include the author’s .
Example: “Smith (1938) believed formula X would change the world of chemistry.”

2. If you are directly quoting or paraphrasing a work, also include the .
Example: According to Smith (1938) he was the first to discover formula X (p.238).
Example: Smith (1938) wrote “I am the first to discover formula X” (p.238).

(Note: Inclusion of the page number for paraphrases is not mandatory under APA guidelines but it is encouraged.)

3. If the author name is not included in the relevant passage, then use the formulation at the end.
Example: The first known instance of formula X appeared in a book published during the Great Depression (Jones, 1938, p.238).

If no author name is available, use the title of the article followed by the year. Almost all online sources follow the above rules for in-text citations.


APA Style requires that references include the following information (example: see image below):

  1. Author name
  2. The publication date in parentheses which includes the year, month, and day
  3. Title of the document
  4. Title of the publication
  5. Volume number
  6. The URL where the source was retrieved from.

In some cases, such as blog posts, lecture notes, ebook formats, or social media updates, you are required to include the format description as well.

For sources that are freely available, include the words “Retrieved from” in front of the URL. If the source you’re citing has to be purchased or subscribed to, include the words “Available from” before the complete URL.

If a source includes a DOI (Digital Object Identifier), you need to include it at the end of your reference. Certain formats such as forum posts require adding the post or the message number as well.

The basic template for online sources is as follows:

Author, A. (date). Title of document [Format]. Retrieved from http://www.website.com

Here are a few examples of APA Style citations for some of the most common online formats.


To cite an entire website, include the full URL in text:

Google is one the most popular search engines nowadays. (http://www.google.com).

To cite a page or a particular document on a website, use the following example:

Gotter, A. (2017, April 20). How to Conduct a Social Media Audit [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-conduct-social-media-audit/

Online reference without an author and date:

Make sure your site’s ready for mobile-friendly Google search results. (2010, October 13). Retrieved from https://support.google.com/adsense/answer/6196932?hl=en

Press Releases

Citing press releases is very simple in APA:

American Psychological Association. (2017). Prospect High School Teacher Earns APA Award For Excellence[Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/04/prospect-high.aspx

Keep in mind that for press releases found on press release websites such as PRNewswire, the author can be found at the bottom of the release and credit should go to the author rather than the PR website:

Mazda North American Operations. (2017). Mazda Announces Appointment of Dino Bernacchi as Chief Marketing Officer for US Operations [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/mazda-announces-appointment-of-dino-bernacchi-as-chief-marketing-officer-for-us-operations-300442441.html


To cite a whole ebook:

Fabiano Bruno and Pasman Hans. (2014). Trends, Problems and Outlook in Process Industry Risk Assessment and Aspects of Personal and Process Safety Management. Retrieved from https://www.free-ebooks.net/ebook/Trends-Problems-and-Outlook-in-Process-Industry-Risk-Assessment-and-Aspects-of-Personal-and-Process-Safety-Management

To cite a chapter in an ebook:

Lynch Patrick J and Horton Sara. (1997). Site Structure. In E. Editor (3.), Web Style Guide 3rd Edition. Retrieved from http://webstyleguide.com/wsg3/5-site-structure/2-semantic-markup.html

Online Journals

Online journals follow the same rules as their printed counterparts and have to include either the URL or the DOI:

Baker, K. (2016). Peer review as a strategy for improving students’ writing process. Active Learning in Higher Education, 17, 179-192. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/1469787416654794


For blogs, include the title of the blog post and its URL along with the blogger’s name and the date of the publication.

S Bernazzani. (2016, September 16). 18 of the Best Personal Websites We’ve Ever Seen [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/best-personal-websites#sm.00009azkeizmxdw111ejwezcrsmq2

Online Video and Audio

YouTube videos and videos found elsewhere on the web should include the screen name of the person who published the video along with their real name (or indicate if their real name cannot be determined).

Timmer E. (2014, November 14). iMovie for Beginners [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGG5kbMKmLo

To cite the video in the text, include the author or screen name and the date outside the brackets.

Audio podcast files should also include any other information such as the names of the producers, directors, and similar:

Armitage S. (2016, April 8). The Parable of the Solicitor and the Poet. Poetry with Simon Armitage. Podcast retrieved from https://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/series/poetry-simon-armitage

Forum Discussions

Forum posts should include the title of the message as well as the URL of the forum or discussion board. Use either the screen name or the author’s name (preferably both) and include identifiers such as post or message number in the brackets.

Cuthber J. (2017, April 17). Mercury stream in space [Msg 6]. Message posted to http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/104781-mercury-stream-in-space/

Email and Social Media

E-mail can be omitted from references but you can cite them in your main text in parenthesis:

(M. Jones, personal communication, January 14, 2015)

Social Media can be referenced in three ways:

With a general URL similarly to the way you would cite an entire website:

The New York Times is one of the leading online publications keeping you up to date through their website and their Twitter account (https://twitter.com/nytimes)

As personal communication when readers will not be able to access the source (exchanged in a private message or a group on social media):

Sarah Jones (personal communication 2013, April 17) stated that online shopping is the most convenient for her family.

As a typical APA Style in-text citation and reference list entry:

Linus Torvalds [Linus__Torvalds]. (2013, March 30) Linux Foundation Training Prepares the International Space Station for Linux Migration https://t.co/rCNB5CbTI0 via @linuxfoundation [Tweet] Retrieved from https://twitter.com/Linus__Torvalds/status/318095850079399937


Given the fact that wikis are often collaborative projects, it can be hard to establish the credibility of the wiki entry. As such, APA warns against using them in your papers. However, should the need arise, you can reference them in the following manner:

How to create a comic book text effect. (n.d.). Retrieved April 21, 2017 from the Scribus Wiki: https://wiki.scribus.net/canvas/How_to_create_a_comic_book_text_effect

How to Cite Online Sources Using MLA Style

The MLA (Modern Language Association) style is usually used to cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities.

Traditionally, in-text citations included the author’s last name and the page number. Obviously, this will not work for most online sources. For these, you should list the author’s name or whatever is at the beginning of the full citation. You may need to add other information to make the in-text citation clear. Website names should be avoided, but if you must use them, do not include the protocol information. So use “Blogging.com.com” and not “http://www.Blogging.com.com.”

Full citations in MLA require you to include the following information:

  1. Author and/or editor names (if available)
  2. Article name in quotation marks.
  3. Title of the website, project, or book in italics.
  4. Any version numbers available, including edition (ed), revisions, posting dates, volumes (vol), or issue numbers (no).
  5. Publisher information, including the publisher name and publishing date.
  6. Page numbers (p or pp) or paragraph numbers (par or pars).
  7. URL (without the https://), DOI, or permalink.
  8. Date you accessed the material (Date Accessed).

The MLA also requires citing containers after your regular citation which can include TV series, collection of stories, or even an online article series.

The basic structure for MLA style citation is:

Author. Title. Title of container (self contained if book), other contributors (translators or editors), version (edition), number (vol and/or no), publisher, publication date, location (pages, paragraphs and/or URL, DOI, or permalink). Second container’s title, other contributors, version, number, publisher, publication date, location, date of access (if applicable).

And here’s how to cite the most common online sources with MLA.


Citing websites requires including the date of access, since the information can change at any point in time, as well as the complete address for the site except for the “https://” part. If you’re citing a course or a department website, include that information as well.

Steve Faulkner, Arron Eicholz, Travis Leithead, Alex Danilo. HTML 5.1 W3C Recommendation, 1 November 2016 W3C, 1 Nov. 2016, www.w3.org/TR/html51/. Accessed 19 April 2017

A Page or Article on a Website or a Magazine:

For an individual page on a website, list the author or alias if known, followed by the information covered above for the entire web site.

Meyer Eric. “Practical CSS Grid: Adding Grid to an Existing Design.” A List Apart, 23 Mar. 2017, alistapart.com/article/practical-grid. Accessed 21 April 2017.

Citing Comments on Websites:

Include the username and the phrase “Comment on” before the title, followed by information applicable for citing websites:

Ryan Hicks. Comment on “The Current State Of Authentication: We Have A Password Problem.” Smashing Magazine, 7 Jun 2016, 6:47 p.m. www.smashingmagazine.com/2016/06/the-current-state-of-authentication-we-have-a-password-problem/#comment-1289807

An Article in an Online Scholarly Journal

Aside from the information referenced above, online scholarly journals have to include page range or page numbers if the online journal has a print version. Otherwise, you need to list the URL, DOI, or a permalink.

O’Regan John P. “English as a Lingua Franca: An Immanent Critique.” Applied Linguistics, vol. 35, issue 5, 2014, academic.oup.com/applij/article-abstract/35/5/533/175252/English-as-a-Lingua-Franca-An-Immanent-Critique?redirectedFrom=fulltext. Accessed 20 Apr. 2017

E-mail (including E-mail Interviews)

Email messages need to include the author of the message as well as the subject line as the title in quotation marks and the recipient’s name preceded by the phrase “Received by”.

Jones, Mary. “Re: Shakespeare’s Sonnets.” Received by Julie Simmons, 13 Mar. 2014.

Discussion Groups or Blog Posts

Discussion groups, listservs, forum postings, or blog posts need to follow the same format as a standard web entry and include screen names if actual names are unknown. When both the screen and the real name are known, the real name is placed in brackets:

JeffUMN. “Re: Could Alexander Have Expanded Further if He Lived?” Historum – History Forums. 8 July. 2015, historum.com/ancient-history/92657-could-alexander-have-expanded-further-if-he-lived.html. Accessed 19 Apr. 2017.

Citing tweets requires using the Twitter handle as the author’s name and the tweet in its entirety. The time of the tweet needs to include the timestamp of the reader’s timezone.

Indicating the access date is optional.

@BillGates. “Not surprisingly, I agree: Thinking like a programmer helps you tackle all kinds of problems in life: http://b-gat.es/2nNhwMB.” Twitter, 17 Apr. 2017, 4:24 pm, twitter.com/BillGates/status/853962277531385862.

YouTube Videos

Similarly to APA format, online videos and audio posts in MLA need to include as much information as possible. If the author and the uploader are the same person, you only need to include their name once. Otherwise, include the author’s name first.

MakeUseOf. “Get Started with Scratch: Drag and Drop Visual Programming.” YouTube, 18 Apr 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxXeziGQnK8.

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

Just because the source you’re citing is available online for all to see, that doesn’t mean you can omit giving attribution or do it sloppily. Use the examples above to give credit where credit is due and to avoid any potential legal problems.

Brenda Barron

Brenda Barron is a writer from southern California. When not writing about blogging and business, she’s spending time with her family and knitting.

General Format


APA (American Psychological Association) style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. This resource, revised according to the 6th edition, second printing of the APA manual, offers examples for the general format of APA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the reference page. For more information, please consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, (6th ed., 2nd printing).

Contributors: Joshua M. Paiz, Elizabeth Angeli, Jodi Wagner, Elena Lawrick, Kristen Moore, Michael Anderson, Lars Soderlund, Allen Brizee, Russell Keck
Last Edited: 2018-02-21 02:26:13

Please use the example at the bottom of this page to cite the Purdue OWL in APA.

To see a side-by-side comparison of the three most widely used citation styles, including a chart of all APA citation guidelines, see the Citation Style Chart.

You can also watch our APA vidcast series on the Purdue OWL YouTube Channel.

General APA Guidelines

Your essay should be typed and double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11"), with 1" margins on all sides. You should use a clear font that is highly readable. APA recommends using 12 pt. Times New Roman font.

Include a page header  (also known as the "running head") at the top of every page. To create a page header/running head, insert page numbers flush right. Then type "TITLE OF YOUR PAPER" in the header flush left using all capital letters. The running head is a shortened version of your paper's title and cannot exceed 50 characters including spacing and punctuation.

Major Paper Sections

Your essay should include four major sections: the Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.

Title Page

The title page should contain the title of the paper, the author's name, and the institutional affiliation. Include the page header (described above) flush left with the page number flush right at the top of the page. Please note that on the title page, your page header/running head should look like this:


Pages after the title page should have a running head that looks like this:


After consulting with publication specialists at the APA, OWL staff learned that the APA 6th edition, first printing sample papers have incorrect examples of running heads on pages after the title page. This link will take you to the APA site where you can find a complete list of all the errors in the APA's 6th edition style guide.

Type your title in upper and lowercase letters centered in the upper half of the page. APA recommends that your title be no more than 12 words in length and that it should not contain abbreviations or words that serve no purpose. Your title may take up one or two lines. All text on the title page, and throughout your paper, should be double-spaced.

Beneath the title, type the author's name: first name, middle initial(s), and last name. Do not use titles (Dr.) or degrees (PhD).

Beneath the author's name, type the institutional affiliation, which should indicate the location where the author(s) conducted the research.

Image Caption: APA Title Page


Begin a new page. Your abstract page should already include the page header (described above). On the first line of the abstract page, center the word “Abstract” (no bold, formatting, italics, underlining, or quotation marks).

Beginning with the next line, write a concise summary of the key points of your research. (Do not indent.) Your abstract should contain at least your research topic, research questions, participants, methods, results, data analysis, and conclusions. You may also include possible implications of your research and future work you see connected with your findings. Your abstract should be a single paragraph, double-spaced. Your abstract should be between 150 and 250 words.

You may also want to list keywords from your paper in your abstract. To do this, indent as you would if you were starting a new paragraph, type Keywords: (italicized), and then list your keywords. Listing your keywords will help researchers find your work in databases.

Image Caption: APA Abstract Page

Please see our Sample APA Paper resource to see an example of an APA paper. You may also visit our Additional Resources page for more examples of APA papers.

How to Cite the Purdue OWL in APA

Individual Resources

Contributors' names and the last edited date can be found in the orange boxes at the top of every page on the OWL.

Contributors' names (Last edited date). Title of resource. Retrieved from http://Web address for OWL resource


Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M., Soderlund, L., & Brizee, A. (2010, May 5). General format. Retrieved from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/

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