How to Cite Online Sources

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  • 0:07 Introduction
  • 0:22 Choosing Your Format
  • 0:52 APA Format
  • 2:23 MLA Format
  • 3:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Doresa Jennings

Doresa holds a Ph.D. in Communication Studies.

A large majority of research today is done online, so you'll need to cite web pages for your papers. In this video we will learn the proper way of citing online sources in both APA and MLA styles.

Citing Sources

Citing sources is an important part of essay writing. Today, the vast majority of our research is done online. Let's start our journey as we learn the proper way of citing information from sources found in our virtual world.

Choosing Your Format

One of the first choices you need to make is what format you are using for documenting your sources. Two of the most common formats you will be asked to use is APA or MLA. Usually the format will be chosen by the instructor making the assignment. In our examples during this video, we are going to examine citing an online scholarly journal. In academic writing, this will be the most common type of citation you will be doing.

Citing Online Sources using APA Format

In order to cite an online scholarly journal in appropriate APA format, you'll need the name of the author, the year published, the title of the article, the title of the journal, the volume number(issue number if available), page range, and one final piece. This final component is the Digital Object Identifier or DOI, 'an alpha numeric string acting like a link.' When a DOI is unavailable, you can use the URL of the article. DOI's are preferred because they remain stagnant while traditional website links are subject to change quite frequently. Many publishers post DOI numbers on the first page of the online article.

Here is an example of a citation from an online scholarly journal. Let's take a couple of minutes to go over each section.

Barcelona, R. (2009). Pressing the online learning advantage: Commitment, content, and community. The Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 57(3), 193-197. doi:10.1080/07377360903262218

The first thing we notice is the name of the author and year in which this online article was published. Next you see the title of the article.

Following the title of the article we see the title of the publication followed by the volume number with the issue number in parenthesis.

After the issue number, we have the pages on which this particular article can be found.

Finally we have the DOI number. Remember, whenever possible use the DOI number when writing your citation. If the DOI number is unavailable, go ahead and use the full web address that links directly to the article, including the https://.

Citing Online Sources using MLA Format

MLA is slightly different from APA. To cite sources using MLA you will need 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. You should include the URL, DOI, or permalink to help people access the article.

If you are going to cite an entire website using MLA, it would look like this:

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).

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