The principle for citing internet sources (including online material in
PDF, PPT and other formats, as well as HTML) is the same as with citing
traditional print sources: the title, author, publisher, date and other
reference detail must be given so that readers will know the origin of the
material and, if desired, be able to easily find and examine it.
However, unlike with print sources, the "title," "author," and
"publisher" fields are often far from clear with many web sources; a
certain amount of detective work and sometimes inventiveness may be needed
to determine solutions.
Internet sources also require additional details which are not part of
print-source citations, such as the URL of a web document. Further,
due to the ephemeral nature of web pages, the contents of which may
suddenly change or disappear, web citations must include either the (a)
version number or (b) document date of a source, or else the
(c) date when the author consulted the source.
Further, at present Works Cited entries to online material differ
between a paper's print and digital versions. With print papers, one must
write out the URL of the source used as explicit text (often producing
very awkward entries for which alternate solutions are needed, cf. Citing Long-URL Online
Discussion Forum Postings). With papers published digitally, however,
the URL can be "embedded" in the Works Cited entry so a reader can click
directly to the source (and from this see the exact URL that would have
appeared in a printed paper). This difference in procedure can be
exasperating. Fortunately the problem is diminishing as the academic world
moves toward papers at all levels being required in digital rather than
Finally, though it is not part of the citation itself, one must make
and keep copies of any web references which are essential for your paper.
This is also due to the frequency with which web materials may change or
vanish, in which case your copy may be your only proof that the source on
which you have based part of your paper's argumentation actually had once
existed and had said the things you claim it had said.
General Caveat Concerning This Document
This PK6 document presents accepted standards for citing web and e-mail
sources. However, as the internet is continuously evolving, so too are
the "standards" used to cite internet sources. "Standards" by nature lag
behind the evolution of the technologies whose usage they should define.
Thus, individual solutions may be necessary with some internet citations
for which an MLA "standard" does not exist.
This document contains several such solutions, including those which
are part of the English Section 'house style'. In such cases, the
objective is always to identify the origins and locations of one's sources
as precisely as possible, using the format of established citation
standards as a guide, but with "readability" of the document and practical
expediency for the author and the reader(s) of a document also kept in
mind. Thus some of the solutions presented in this document, although all
workable, based on the logic of MLA Citation Style, and acceptable as such
for all work done for the English Translation and FAST curricula, may be
different from the solutions presented in citation material elsewhere, in
cases where MLA itself has not yet published an 'official' solution.
Basic Internet Source Citation Format
In general, internet citations follow the style of print citations [see
the Quick Guide to Citations and Overview of MLA Citation Style for examples].
Sources are listed alphabetically in your Works Cited, together
with all of your other sources, by the last name of the author (or the
document title if no author is given or possibly in other ways for
web sources where the "author" and "title" are not obvious, as described
The in-text parenthetical citations which refer to the Works Cited
entries also follow the style of print citations, referring to the last
name of the author (if there was only one), or authors/editors if there
was more than one, or the first or 'key' word from the source title, if no
author/editor or other human names were available.
Following is the normal information sequence for an internet citation.
The different elements are distinguished by boldface; items in
brackets [ ] would only be included if relevant [see next paragraph
- Lastname, Firstname (of the author). Title (of
the Work). [Version number or date of posting.]
"Publisher" (web host, etc). [URL (only for a printed
paper).] [Date (the source was consulted, if there was no
version number or date of posting).] [Page(s) or item(s)
consulted, if explicit, for example in a page-numbered PDF file.]
[Filetype (if other than HTML), such as PDF, PPT, etc.]
NB: One would generally put either the "version number"
or "document date" (of posting/updating) or the "date the
source was consulted" but not both of these as both
establish the same information: which version of a document was consulted,
or to put it another way, whether the version that is currently on the web
at a later date is the same you had consulted earlier when researching
your paper. Some web documents do not give a date of posting or updating;
in such cases the "date consulted" is the only option. The URL would only
be included separately in print versions of a paper; for digital
versions especially those published in HTML format the URL
would be 'embedded' as a 'clickable' element.
Web sources should always be listed by the author or the
title of the work to which the URL "points," rather than just the
URL itself [such as "www.site.org/file290897x#35"]. The URL only
provides the location of the source; it rarely indicates the title.
Giving only the URL and not the title is the equivalent of telling someone
that you had consulted 41A 82.14 referring to a book's
library shelving code rather than to its title.
Basic Examples of Works Cited Entries: Print vs Web Format
Following are two examples of how the file you are now reading would be
cited, applying the information sequence described above (see also Internet Citation Examples). Example one
shows how the citation would appear in a printed paper; example two
shows how the citation would be different for an web paper using
the English Section 'house style':
- Print-version citation for a work by a single author; there
are no hyperlinks and the URL written out as plain text. Note the order
of the elements:
- Hopkins, John D. Citing Internet Sources. Version 6.7, 31
January 2012. TRENPK6 Academic Citation and Documentation Course,
Department of Translation Studies, University of Tampere, Finland. URL:
- Web version of the same citation; here both the URL of
the source document and that of the 'publisher' are 'embedded' hyperlinks
the URL does not appear as 'text':
Some of the detail of the examples above might be deleted, if it is not
relevant to the needs of your paper. For instance, if one knows from
which course the material came, and in which university that course was
offered, is it necessary to also mention the department? Possibly not.
However, if material from other Tampere University departments was also
cited, then it may be relevant to distinguish in the Works Cited entry
from which department each type of material had come.
If material was only taken from one department, however, that detail
could be omitted especially as it can be easily deduced from the
other source information. Similarly, one need not embed hyperlinks to each
detail level, if it is clear from a link to one what the data for the
others would be. Therefore the entry could also be:
- Hopkins, John D. Citing Internet
Sources. Version 6.7, 31 January 2012. PK6 Academic Citation
and Documentation Course, University of Tampere, Finland.
Further, if the paper is only being read in a print version within
Finland, there is little point to noting that Tampere University is in
Finland, as this would be 'common knowledge'. However, if published on
the web where it is available to an international audience, the country in
which the University of Tampere is located should be established.
In-text Parenthetical Citation Style for the Example(s) Above
The in-text reference for the examples above would simply be (Hopkins),
e.g. the last name of the author, assuming there were no other sources by
'Hopkins' in the Works Cited. No page number is given, since HTML web
documents do not have explicit page numbers. If, however, the source had
been a PDF file on which the pages were numbered, then a page number would
be given, e.g. (Hopkins 8).
If there had been more than one Works Cited entry under the same
'Hopkins', then just as with print sources the last name plus a key-word
identifier would be given, in this case (Hopkins, Citing). Or, if
there had been two different Hopkinses listed in your Works Cited, then
the in-text citation would be, for example (J. Hopkins) as opposed to (A.
Hopkins) if there had also been a web citation to 'Adam Hopkins'. This
is also the same procedure as used with print sources.
What if There Isn't a Version Number or Document Date?
The above examples all cite a version number and document date. But what
if this information has not been provided? In this case the
citation must include the date you consulted the source. This detail would
normally appear last in the citation, as shown below (one can use
"viewed," "consulted," "visited" or any other synonym for this detail):
What is the 'Title' of a Web Page for Citation Purposes?
The "title" of a web page for citation purposes is usually the text which
appears above the beginning of the detailed text of the page e.g.
the "title of the page text" as opposed to the "HTML title" of the page
which appears in the left upper corner of most browser windows. In some
cases these two "titles" may be the same, but often they are different.
With this page the "HTML title" is Citing Internet Sources
(Hopkins), whereas the "page text title" which would be used in a
citation is Citing Internet Sources.
The difference can be seen more clearly in this example, where the "HTML title" is
Author Notes: PK6 Academic Citation & Documentation Examples
(Hopkins), but the title of the document which would be used for its
citation is Author Notes: 'Content' and 'Bibliographic'.
A more complex example would be this page.
What is the title here? It is not "Bay of Pigs: 40 Years After." This
was instead the title of an conference held in Havana, Cuba in 2001, as
can be seen by moving up
one level in the website. Rather, the page title is simply
"Chronology" (also supported by the page being named "chron.html"). The
page is part of a related series of pages called "Bay of Pigs: 40 Years
After" (related to the 2001 conference). The "publisher" is "The National
Security Archive of George Washington University in Washington, D.C. And
since there was no date of posting or updating or a version number on the
"Chronology" page, the "date viewed" would need to be given. Thus the
citation for this would be either (given first for a print version and
second for an online version):
- Chronology. Bay of Pigs: 40 Years After. National
Security Archive, George Washington University. URL:
<www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/bayofpigs/chron.html>. Viewed 06 March
Bay of Pigs: 40 Years After. National Security Archive, George
Washington University. Viewed 06 March 2008.
What If There Isn't an Author Name?
Many web documents, such as the "Chronology" example just above, do not
provide the name of the "author" who produced the page. This is often the
case with online newspaper articles, for example, which (as with their
print versions) do not always identify the individual(s) responsible for a
news item. Or, there may be an "institutional author" where an
'institution' is publishing information about itself or its activities
under its own name as in the Federal Reserve Bank examples below.
Sometimes, however, the author name may not be present on the page you
consulted, but would be available by going to an upper-level page in the
same website, where credits for all material in the site would be listed.
That would be the case with the file you are now reading, for example. The
credits at the top of the page only list "Hopkins" as the author. However,
the full author name would be available (assuming you are not a PK6
student who already knew this), by moving backwards in the website until
you come to the FAST Home Page, at the
bottom of which is the author's full name and contact data.
However, the same procedure does not work for the "Chronology" example
above. One can click on "about" (top-left of the screen) and find a long
list of individuals working in various capacities with the National
Security Agency, including Thomas S. Blanton as its Executive Director,
but there is no indication of who would have written the Chronology.
If an author name is not present or cannot be found on other
pages in the website, the Works Cited entry will begin with the document
title (or possibly with its "institutional author"). The title
would always come first unless it is clear that it was by an
Citing By 'Institutional Author' Instead of Title: When and Why?
In some cases where an author name is not present, the document may have
been produced by an "institutional" or "corporate" author (these two terms
being used interchangeably; another synonym is "institutional publisher").
"Institutional authorship" is normally when a publication has been
produced on behalf of a certain institution, corporation or organization,
with the intellectual property rights belonging to the organization,
rather than to the individual(s) who created the publication on behalf of
For example, with the "Chronology" article cited above, one might think
of the Bay of Pigs: 40 Years After conference as having been
responsible for the collection, editing and publication of all the key
documents discussed in the conference, including the Chronology. In this
sense, the following citation would also be possible:
- Bay of Pigs: 40 Years After. Chronology
National Security Archive, George Washington University. Viewed 06 March
Whether to list the page by title or institutional author in this case
is mainly determined by which option would produce a clearer Works Cited
listing. If you were citing several documents from the Bay of Pigs
conference, for example, it may be preferable to group all the related
documents together under the same institutional author. If only one
document had been used, it would make little difference which option was
used (though "Chronology" would make a clearer, simpler in-text reference
than either "Bay of Pigs: 40 Years After" or just "Bay of Pigs" or "Bay").
The citations below give a more standard example of institutional
authorship. The example is for "Part One" of a work in several parts
(similar to a multivolume series with print publications) on the U.S.
Federal Reserve Bank. This is a PDF document, in which (unlike with HTML
documents) the pages have discrete numbers; thus page numbers must be
included in the citation. The fact that it is in a document format other
than HTML is should also be mentioned in this case that it is a
PDF file, though the same would apply if it were a PPT, RTF or other
This first example is for a print version. Note that the URL is
written out as text, and also that it is not the final citation detail: in
this case the final detail is the element to which the citation refers,
the page on which it appears, and the document format (PDF)
- Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
Overview of the Federal Reserve System. Part One of The Federal
Reserve System: Purposes and Functions. Eighth edition, 1994. Federal
Reserve website. URL:
<www.federalreserve.gov/pf/pdf/frspf1.pdf>. Map, page 8
- This second example is for an online version. The
URLs of the source file, the complete work, and the 'publisher' have all
been embedded as clickable links.
Note that using several hyperlinks in the same citation may not result
in easy readability. The one item that must be linked is the
specific document you used. Linking other detail is usually not
As with the "Chronology" example above, it would also be
possible to put the title first in this case. Which order you use
depends on how many works were used from the same institutional author. If
only one work was used, the order usually does not matter; use whichever
one is more convenient for your in-text citations. However, if several
works had been used from the Federal Reserve System website then your
Works Cited entries should begin with the 'institutional author' in order
to keep all of the related works together.
The following example shows this order (and also reduces the detail
from the two examples above):
Putting the title first may also result in an easier in-text citation,
as the citation for the above would then be (Overview 8), whereas with the
'Institutional Author' first the citation would be (Board of Governors 8)
or at its simplest (Board 8) [if there were no other sources having
"Board" as the author or first word of the entry].
What if There is No Author Name But the Publisher is Not an
For sources where there is no author name given and it is not a
question of institutional authorship, the Works Cited listing will always
begin with the title of the source. Examples would be non-signed articles
in newspapers and magazines, as well as material quoted from sources such
In the example below, Wikipedia is the 'publisher' but not an
'institutional author' the information does not represent
Wikipedia's own view, but rather has been contributed by individuals on
the web. Thus the article is cited as follows:
Note that in this case a time of updating was given as well as the date,
since Wikipedia articles may be modified several times in a given day.
it is not necessary to put the 'date viewed' if there is update/edition
data available, it can be given if the author feels a reason to do
Missouri. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Last Updated 14
Oct 2006, 18:05 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Viewed 08 November 2006.
Note also that Wikipedia entries, as with other 'tertiary sources,' are
not acceptable as research sources,
unless the paper is, for example, comparing Wikipedia entries so that
they would be treated as primary rather than tertiary sources. In such
cases, the Wikipedia text used should be copied as an appendix to your
paper (see below) so you will have a record of exactly what you were
citing, since Wikipedia entries are highly changeable by nature.
Citing Web Multimedia: Flash Animations; Facebook and YouTube 'Videos'
As the multimedia content of the web continually expands, 'videos' and
animations in different formats are also being increasingly cited. The
procedure is generally the same as for Flm and DVD Citations or in some cases
for Interviews or Citing B in A;
in most cases the 'credits' for the web material are readily available
either in the multimedia itself or in the web page which links to the
A. Citing a Flash Video
The Flash-format animated film linked below of Yiddish With Dick and
Jane, for example, would be cited as follows. Its producers were Liz
Dubelman and Paca Thomas; the "publisher" is the website Vidlit Productions, LLC.
Depending on how you had used the animation in your research, other
intellectual property citations may also be given to its narrators, sound
designers, etc. (and indeed all can be listed together). Its format as a
"flash animation" should be given, either at the end of the citation (as
with a PDF file, for instance) or, in this instance, the format is obvious
if one credits Paca Thomas for that facet. While it is unlikely that the
film will change, a "Viewed" date can also be added to be on the safe
side, for example if the animation is later taken offline, the "Viewed"
date at least shows when it HAD been online (otherwise that detail could
- Dubelman, Liz, and Paca Thomas, producers. Yiddish
With Dick and Jane. Narration by Ellis Weiner and Barbara Davilman.
Flash Animation by Paca Thomas. Original Score and Sound Design by Paca
Thomas. Vidlit Productions, LLC.
Viewed 30 October 2010.
The in-text citation for the above would be (Dubelman and Thomas),
assuming there had been only one Works Cited entry for this duo.
If there had been more than one, the citation would then be (Dubelman and
B. Citing a Facebook Video
Academic material can also be available via Facebook or other social media
sites, for example as with the video
interview of Gauti Kristmannsson via the Interpreting for
Europe Facebook domain. In this case a real person is being
interviewed (e.g. a different situation from Yiddish With Dick and
Jane, which had animated characters). A title is given for the
video interview, the date of posting is provided by Facebook, and the
'publisher' is the Interpreting For Europe Facebook domain.
The basic citation would then be, accordingly:
In the above, one would not need to mention the exact time (11.00
a.m.) the video was posted on 13 July 2010, or the length (2:02) of the
video clip, although one could do so if that information may be useful in
context. For example if what you were citing from the interview was the
information that the demand for interpreting has been increasing in
Iceland due both to the recent banking crisis and Iceland's EU membership
candidacy, this section can be found from ca. 0:56 to 1:25 of the 2:02
interview. If it was only this information that was relevant to your
paper, this would be specified by putting the time sequence of the
information at the end of your entry, similar to putting the relevant page
numbers of one article out of a an anthology of printed articles.
In this case, the Works Cited entry could be:
In the example above, strictly speaking the numbers alone, as in brackets
after the example, would be enough, as would be the case when citing an
article out of an anthology. However, in this case "Sequence from ..."
has been included to clarify what the numbers are. [In a printed
anthology, one would be expecting page numbers, and they would not begin
with a zero.]. There is no standard MLA terminology for indicating such
data; either "Sequence from" or "Time" or something similar would work.
The Interpreting For Europe Facebook domain does not tell who
conducted the interview one does not even hear the interviewer's
voice. If you wish to make it clear that the interviewer was unknown (or
that you had not conducted the interview), either a bracketed explanation
or an author note could be used.
An example of a bracketed explanation follows:
C. Citing a YouTube Clip
YouTube clips would be cited similarly to the above, in that they will
always have a 'title' of some sort, a distinct URL, and often the identity
of the person who posted the clip to YouTube. There may also be
identifiable people in the clip who may be cited directly, as in the case
of Gauti Kristmannsson above.
See for example this YouTube clip titled British
Pubs Suffering, which was edited for CNN from an original ITN news
clip interviewing several identified sources. As such, there are multiple
ways one could cite the different types of material; the Works Cited entry
should identify as clearly as possible what is known about the clip.
Author notes may be used to clarify the relationships involved if the
normal ordering sequence of the Works Cited entry may not be clear.
Since there are human names involved one would always begin with those,
the choice here being either the reporter, James Blake, or one of the
persons he had interviewed, for example Mark Hastings, using the
information given in the clip. Thus a basic citation could be:
However, if you used only specific information from the clip, for example
the short interview by James Blake with Mark Hastings of the British Beer
and Pub Association, the entry could be as follows:
- Blake, James.
British Pubs Suffering. ITN News. Edited for CNN. YouTube.
Posted by "localworldnews" on 29 January 2009.
In the above, the 'identity' for Mark Hastings as reported in the video is
put in brackets following his name. [See more information on the use of
brackets for supplementary identification in How to Cite Interviews
.] This would establish Hastings' authority in speaking on the topic
in question. One could similarly identify James Blake as "Interview by
James Blake [ITN News Reporter]." if considered necessary.
- Hastings, Mark. [British Beer and Pub Association.] Interview by James
British Pubs Suffering. ITN News. Edited for CNN. YouTube.
Posted by "localworldnews" on 29 January 2009. 1:00-1:21.
In this case, the in-text citation would be simply (Hastings); it is
not necessary to put the time sequence in the in-text citation, e.g.
(Hastings 1:00-1:21), since it appears in the Works Cited entry.
However, an alternative to citing what Hastings had said, if a Works
Cited entry already existed for James Blake, would be to use the B-in-A
procedure, e.g. (in Blake 1:00-1:21). In this case putting the time
sequence in the in-text citation would be technically correct, since the
Works Cited entry for Blake would not have given this information. [The
value of this procedure would be more apparent in a longer interview, say
an hour or more, rather than in a two-minute clip which can be quickly
viewed to identify all the component parts.]
Citing the Digital Versions of Printed Books
University libraries are increasingly purchasing the rights to digital
versions of books and academic journals which previously have only been
published in print format. Many such books and journals are already
available through the University of Tampere library "ebrary" service.
Access to this service, however, is restricted for copyright reasons to
UTA university students and staff.
If you consult a digital book or journal instead of its print version,
how should it be cited? Take for example the book English in the
Southern United States edited by Steven J. Nagle and Sara L. Sanders,
published in 2003 by Cambridge University Press in New York. This book is
available digitally through the UTA "ebrary" service.
However, clicking on this link from an unauthorized computer produces
only an "unauthorized access" note. However, if one goes to https://weblogin.uta.fi, UTA students
or staff may enter their UTA username and Basic User Account password, and
eventually be able to enter the "ebrary" system. From that point one
could search for "Nagle" to locate the book. Once having done so, the
book would continue to be available for several hours by a direct link
until the time limit on your authorized user session expires.
However, linking to the book via the "ebrary" service would be useless
for an academic citation, as one cannot cite sources that are not freely
available to the paper's readers, whoever they might be. Linking to a
multi-step procedure, or to a site that is only available to certain
people on certain computers, does not qualify. So what is the solution?
Fortunately, the solution is simple. The digital version of the book
in the UTA "ebrary" is an exact replica of the original print version; it
has simply been made available in a different format. Thus the citation
should be not to the digital version (which in any case could not be
accessed by non-UTA readers), but rather to the print version, the
citation data of which is readily available from the digital version. In
principle this is no different than if you were reading a photocopy of an
article from a printed academic journal; you would cite the data from the
printed journal not the photocopy.
Thus the citation for the above would be:
- Nagle, Stephen J., and Sara L. Sanders, eds. English in the
Southern United States. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
[assuming you were referring to the entire book, rather than one or two of
its articles, in which case the page number(s) of the article(s) would
need to be added]
It would be irrelevant when you "accessed" the digital book, since the
book will not change. It is also irrelevant that you read the book from a
digital version, since the content will be exactly the same as the
original print version. The only exception would be if you felt the
digital version was somehow different from the print version, in which
case the solution would be to use an author note to (a) indicate you had
read a digital rather than the print version of the book, then (b) explain
where the digital version you viewed had been located, and then (c)
further explain how you felt it was different from the print version.
Citing Images and Charts
Students are increasingly enhancing the clarity and impact of their papers
by including photographs, illustrations, charts, and other graphical
images. Such images always require two identification elements: (1) a
caption or title; and (2) a source citation. The caption clarifies what
exactly the reader is supposed to see in the image, usually what the
relationship of the image is to the surrounding text. The citation gives
the source from which the image came, usually either a 'publication' from
which the image was copied or the name of the person(s) who took the
photograph, created the painting, etc.
In the case of data charts, the citation should clarify whether the
data and the table (or other form in which the data appears)
both came from the same source, or whether the data was taken from
the source and the table in which the data appears was created by the
student. See these examples of distinguishing between whether the data
and table had come from the same source
or whether only the data
had come from a source, with the table created by the student.
Two examples of properly citing images are The Victims of
the Finnish Civil War (Sylvelin), and The History, Art
and Architecture of Tampere Cathedral (Valtonen).
Appending Web Pages to Your Paper(s)
If electronic sources are used which are essential to your
scholarly treatment, copies should be made and kept, and
where appropriate appended to your paper (and still listing
it in the Works Cited). One example of such an "essential"
reference was in a recent paper where a student was comparing American and
British food terminology in the online menus of two restaurants. The
menus existed only as web pages; these pages were the only evidence of the
terminology the student was comparing. The student had cited the
URLs of the menus which had been consulted, thinking that the reader of
the paper could use these to see the menus. But the menus themselves were
not part of the paper.
This was not adequate. Menu contents are highly changeable. Even if
the URLs remained valid, would a restaurant's menu likely be exactly the
same already the next week? When the menu changes, the terms the student
had compared would also change and the cited source would become useless.
In this case, the web menus should have been "saved" and included as
Appendices to the paper, since they were the only sources for the data
being compared. Without evidence of the sources, the paper cannot be
academically validated. It is perfectly legal to save and incorporate
entire web pages (properly cited) into one's papers if those pages are
used as an academic reference (see Copyright vs 'Academic Fair Use'). Indeed, for
scholarly writing it would be not only legal but essential to do