MLA Works Cited: Electronic Sources (Web Publications)
MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook (8th ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page.
Contributors: Tony Russell, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli, Russell Keck, Joshua M. Paiz, Michelle Campbell, Rodrigo Rodríguez-Fuentes, Daniel P. Kenzie, Susan Wegener, Maryam Ghafoor, Purdue OWL Staff
Last Edited: 2017-10-12 08:26:00
It is always a good idea to maintain personal copies of electronic information, when possible. It is good practice to print or save web pages or, better, use a program like Adobe Acrobat to keep your own copies for future reference. Most web browsers will include URL/electronic address information when you print, which makes later reference easy. Also, you might use the Bookmark function in your web browser in order to return to documents more easily.
MLA uses the phrase, “Accessed” to denote which date you accessed the web page when available or necessary. It is not required to do so but especially encouraged when there is no copyright date listed on a website.
Important Note on the Use of URLs in MLA
Include a URL or web address to help readers locate your sources. Because web addresses are not static (i.e., they change often) and because documents sometimes appear in multiple places on the web (e.g., on multiple databases), MLA encourages the use of citing containers such as Youtube, JSTOR, Spotify, or Netflix in order to easily access and verify sources. However, MLA only requires the www. address, so eliminate all https:// when citing URLs.
Many scholarly journal articles found in databases include a DOI (digital object identifier). If a DOI is available, cite the DOI number instead of the URL.
Online newspapers and magazines sometimes include a “permalink,” which is a shortened, stable version of a URL. Look for a “share” or “cite this” button to see if a source includes a permalink. If you can find a permalink, use that instead of a URL.
Abbreviations Commonly Used with Electronic Sources
If page numbers are not available, use par. or pars. to denote paragraph numbers. Use these in place of the p. or pp. abbreviation.
Basic Style for Citations of Electronic Sources (Including Online Databases)
Here are some common features you should try to find before citing electronic sources in MLA style. Not every Web page will provide all of the following information. However, collect as much of the following information as possible both for your citations and for your research notes:
- Author and/or editor names (if available)
- Article name in quotation marks.
- Title of the website, project, or book in italics.
- Any version numbers available, including editions (ed.), revisions, posting dates, volumes (vol.), or issue numbers (no.).
- Publisher information, including the publisher name and publishing date.
- Take note of any page numbers (p. or pp.) or paragraph numbers (par. or pars.).
- URL (without the https://) DOI or permalink.
- Date you accessed the material (Date Accessed)—While not required, it is highly recommended, especially when dealing with pages that change frequently or do not have a visible copyright date.
- Remember to cite containers after your regular citation. Examples of containers are collections of short stories or poems, a television series, or even a website. A container is anything that is a part of a larger body of works.
Use the following format:
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). 2nd container’s title, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location, Date of Access (if applicable).
Citing an Entire Web Site
It is a good idea to list your date of access because web postings are often updated, and information available on one date may no longer be available later. When using the URL, be sure to include the complete address for the site except for the https://.
Editor, author, or compiler name (if available). Name of Site. Version number, Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher), date of resource creation (if available), URL, DOI or permalink. Date of access (if applicable).
The Purdue OWL Family of Sites. The Writing Lab and OWL at Purdue and Purdue U, 2008, owl.english.purdue.edu/owl. Accessed 23 Apr. 2008.
Felluga, Dino. Guide to Literary and Critical Theory. Purdue U, 28 Nov. 2003, www.cla.purdue.edu/english/theory/. Accessed 10 May 2006.
Course or Department Websites
Give the instructor name. Then list the title of the course (or the school catalog designation for the course) in italics. Give appropriate department and school names as well, following the course title.
Felluga, Dino. Survey of the Literature of England. Purdue U, Aug. 2006, web.ics.purdue.edu/~felluga/241/241/Home.html. Accessed 31 May 2007.
English Department. Purdue U, 20 Apr. 2009, www.cla.purdue.edu/english/.
A Page on a Web Site
For an individual page on a Web site, list the author or alias if known, followed by the information covered above for entire Web sites. If the publisher is the same as the website name, only list it once.
"Athlete's Foot - Topic Overview." WebMD, 25 Sept. 2014, www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/tc/athletes-foot-topic-overview.
Lundman, Susan. "How to Make Vegetarian Chili." eHow, www.ehow.com/how_10727_make-vegetarian-chili.html. Accessed 6 July 2015.
An Image (Including a Painting, Sculpture, or Photograph)
Provide the artist's name, the work of art italicized, the date of creation, the institution and city where the work is housed. Follow this initial entry with the name of the Website in italics, and the date of access.
Goya, Francisco. The Family of Charles IV. 1800. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid. Museo Nacional del Prado, www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/the-family-of-carlos-iv/f47898fc-aa1c-48f6-a779-71759e417e74. Accessed 22 May 2006.
Klee, Paul. Twittering Machine. 1922. Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Artchive, www.artchive.com/artchive/K/klee/twittering_machine.jpg.html. Accessed May 2006.
If the work is cited on the web only, then provide the name of the artist, the title of the work, and then follow the citation format for a website. If the work is posted via a username, use that username for the author.
Adams, Clifton R. “People relax beside a swimming pool at a country estate near Phoenix, Arizona, 1928.” Found, National Geographic Creative, 2 June 2016, natgeofound.tumblr.com/.
An Article in a Web Magazine
Provide the author name, article name in quotation marks, title of the web magazine in italics, publisher name, publication date, URL, and the date of access.
Bernstein, Mark. "10 Tips on Writing the Living Web." A List Apart: For People Who Make Websites, 16 Aug. 2002, alistapart.com/article/writeliving. Accessed 4 May 2009.
An Article in an Online Scholarly Journal
For all online scholarly journals, provide the author(s) name(s), the name of the article in quotation marks, the title of the publication in italics, all volume and issue numbers, and the year of publication. Include a URL, DOI, or permalink to help readers locate the source.
Article in an Online-only Scholarly Journal
MLA requires a page range for articles that appear in Scholarly Journals. If the journal you are citing appears exclusively in an online format (i.e. there is no corresponding print publication) that does not make use of page numbers, indicate the URL or other location information.
Dolby, Nadine. “Research in Youth Culture and Policy: Current Conditions and Future Directions.” Social Work and Society: The International Online-Only Journal, vol. 6, no. 2, 2008, www.socwork.net/sws/article/view/60/362. Accessed 20 May 2009.
Article in an Online Scholarly Journal That Also Appears in Print
Cite articles in online scholarly journals that also appear in print as you would a scholarly journal in print, including the page range of the article. Provide the URL and the date of access.
Wheelis, Mark. "Investigating Disease Outbreaks Under a Protocol to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention." Emerging Infectious Diseases, vol. 6, no. 6, 2000, pp. 595-600, wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/6/6/00-0607_article. Accessed 8 Feb. 2009.
An Article from an Online Database (or Other Electronic Subscription Service)
Cite online databases (e.g. LexisNexis, ProQuest, JSTOR, ScienceDirect) and other subscription services as containers. Thus, provide the title of the database italicized before the DOI or URL. If a DOI is not provided, use the URL instead. Provide the date of access if you wish.
Alonso, Alvaro, and Julio A. Camargo. "Toxicity of Nitrite to Three Species of Freshwater Invertebrates." Environmental Toxicology, vol. 21, no. 1, 3 Feb. 2006, pp. 90-94. Wiley Online Library, doi:10.1002/tox.20155.
Langhamer, Claire. “Love and Courtship in Mid-Twentieth-Century England.” Historical Journal, vol. 50, no. 1, 2007, pp. 173-96. ProQuest, doi:10.1017/S0018246X06005966. Accessed 27 May 2009.
E-mail (including E-mail Interviews)
Give the author of the message, followed by the subject line in quotation marks. State to whom to message was sent with the phrase, “Received by” and the recipient’s name. Include the date the message was sent. Use standard capitalization.
Kunka, Andrew. "Re: Modernist Literature." Received by John Watts, 15 Nov. 2000.
Neyhart, David. "Re: Online Tutoring." Received by Joe Barbato, 1 Dec. 2016.
A Listserv, Discussion Group, or Blog Posting
Cite web postings as you would a standard web entry. Provide the author of the work, the title of the posting in quotation marks, the web site name in italics, the publisher, and the posting date. Follow with the date of access. Include screen names as author names when author name is not known. If both names are known, place the author’s name in brackets.
Editor, screen name, author, or compiler name (if available). “Posting Title.” Name of Site, Version number (if available), Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher), URL. Date of access.
Salmar1515 [Sal Hernandez]. “Re: Best Strategy: Fenced Pastures vs. Max Number of Rooms?” BoardGameGeek, 29 Sept. 2008, boardgamegeek.com/thread/343929/best-strategy-fenced-pastures-vs-max-number-rooms. Accessed 5 Apr. 2009.
Begin with the user's Twitter handle in place of the author’s name. Next, place the tweet in its entirety in quotations, inserting a period after the tweet within the quotations. Include the date and time of posting, using the reader's time zone; separate the date and time with a comma and end with a period. Include the date accessed if you deem necessary.
@tombrokaw. "SC demonstrated why all the debates are the engines of this campaign." Twitter, 22 Jan. 2012, 3:06 a.m., twitter.com/tombrokaw/status/160996868971704320.
@PurdueWLab. "Spring break is around the corner, and all our locations will be open next week." Twitter, 5 Mar. 2012, 12:58 p.m., twitter.com/PurdueWLab/status/176728308736737282.
A YouTube Video
Video and audio sources need to be documented using the same basic guidelines for citing print sources in MLA style. Include as much descriptive information as necessary to help readers understand the type and nature of the source you are citing. If the author’s name is the same as the uploader, only cite the author once. If the author is different from the uploaded, cite the author’s name before the title.
“8 Hot Dog Gadgets put to the Test.” YouTube, uploaded by Crazy Russian Hacker, 6 June 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBlpjSEtELs.
McGonigal, Jane. “Gaming and Productivity.” YouTube, uploaded by Big Think, 3 July 2012, www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkdzy9bWW3E.
A Comment on a Website or Article
List the username as the author. Use the phrase, Comment on, before the title. Use quotation marks around the article title. Name the publisher, date, time (listed on near the comment), and the URL.
Not Omniscent Enough. Comment on "Flight Attendant Tells Passenger to ‘Shut Up’ After Argument After Pasta." ABC News, 9 Jun 2016, 4:00 p.m., abcnews.go.com/US/flight-attendant-tells-passenger-shut-argument-pasta/story?id=39704050.
by Chelsea Lee
Audiovisual materials like videos, podcasts, movies, and television shows can make excellent sources for academic papers. To point the reader of a paper to a specific spot in an audiovisual source—such as when you cite a direct quotation—include a timestamp in the APA Style in-text citation, just as you would include a page number under analogous circumstances for a print source like a book or journal article. This post will show you how.
Use a Timestamp to Cite a Direct Quotation
To cite a direct quotation from an audiovisual source, include a timestamp in the in-text citation alongside the author and date indicating the point at which the quotation begins.
Here are two examples from a YouTube video about cognitive behavioral therapy that features interviews with both practitioners and clients. The first citation is for a block quotation, and the second is for a shorter quotation (<40 words).
The treatments of cognitive behavioral therapy may seem extreme to a person who does not experience the difficulties associated with a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Professor Paul Salkovskis addresses this concern:
That’s rather like saying, if someone’s got a broken leg . . . “Why should you have a plaster cast on? That’s extremely unnatural. No one else has a plaster cast.” And the idea is you often have to do things in a very different way in order to put them right. (OCD-UK, 2009, 4:03)
One patient who experienced the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy stated that it was so remarkable for her that “I began to think impossible things, like I could even invite people home” (OCD-UK, 2009, 4:50).
The timestamp reflects the format shown on the source—here, the video is counted in minutes and seconds. To cite a quotation appearing before the 1-minute mark, or from a video less than 1 minute long, include a zero in the minutes column (e.g., 0:32).
This example also demonstrates how to incorporate details into the narrative to provide context. Neither of the individuals quoted above are the author of the video (which for retrieval in the reference is the name of the user who posted the video to YouTube, OCD-UK). Thus the quoted individuals’ names or descriptions appear in the narrative, and the citation appears parenthetically.
Reference list entry:
Use a Timestamp to Help the Reader Locate Paraphrased Information
You can also include a timestamp for a citation of paraphrased information if you decide the timestamp would help the reader find the information—for example, if you’ve used information from only a part of a long video. Again, this same principle governs when you should include page numbers (or section names, or any other part of a source [link to post]) in paraphrased citations to print materials.
Here is an example from a video interview with Aaron Beck, a pioneer of cognitive behavioral therapy. The video is more than 2 hours long, so the timestamp will help the reader find the part we’ve referenced, even though the information is only paraphrased.
Beck has stated that the future of cognitive behavioral therapy should be founded in evidence-based treatment (Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy, 2012, 1:30:40). He hypothesized that scientists may even be able to learn which therapies (such as cognitive behavioral therapy, pharmacotherapy, or even gene therapy or psychogenomics) will be most effective for a given individual, allowing therapists to personalize treatment for best results.
Reference list entry:
Although it’s sufficient as far as APA Style is concerned to provide the timestamp at which the cited information begins, you can also include a timestamp range if you think it would help the reader. To refer to a range of time in an audiovisual source, use an en dash between the two timestamps, just as you would use an en dash in a page range. Present both timestamps in full, just as you would present two page numbers in a range in full (e.g., pp. 219–227, not pp. 219–27).
Here is an example:
Beck provided several examples of how evidence-based treatments should form the foundation of cognitive behavioral therapy (Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy, 2012, 1:30:40–1:33:35).
We hope this post has helped you understand how to use timestamps when citing audiovisual materials in an APA Style paper. You may also be interested in our posts on citing YouTube videos, videos from the PsycTHERAPY streaming video database, podcasts, and speeches. See Publication Manual§ 7.07 and the APA Style Guide to Electronic References for more example reference formats.