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How to cite references in a web article

So you've written an article for the web. Maybe it's on your blog, maybe it's for some kind of awesome webzine.

You googled around a bit to find out information for your article. Maybe you grabbed a creative commons photo from flickr. Being the conscientious person you are, you want to make sure that you give credit where credit is due.

Here are a few easy tips to help you cite, reference and link all your creative sources.

Hyperlinks and inline citations

If you can link to it, do it. If you reference a product, a person, a place, or a thing: provide a hyperlink. Not only will it give your readers a better understanding of what you're talking about, but it will also make sure the product/person/place/thing gets the appropriate credit.

Scenario 1: You're writing an article comparing eReaders. You're discussing the merits of the Barnes and Noble Nook and the Amazon Kindle Fire. In order to give readers a chance to see what you found in your research, make sure to provide links to the produces.

I love the Amazon Kindle Fire, but the Nook is a little too booky.

Scenario 2: You read an article somewhere that inspired you to write a passionate response. Before you defend your no doubt awesome point of view, make sure that you reference who wrote the article and link to it.This gives your readers better context. This is also known as an inline citation.

Liz Dwyer believes that "supporting your local library is honoring Ray Bradbury." Here's what I think...

Scenario 3: You found a creative commons photo that you're free to use as long as you give the author credit (don't even think of just grabbing a photo from just anywhere) and want to place it in your article. Do so! Just make sure to add a caption underneath with a link to the original source. 

Don't you just love the smell of old paperbacks? These vintage books are a prime example of what eBook readers are missing out on. (Velo Steve)

Quick and dirty

So you provided hyperlinks to everything you mentioned in your article. Great!

What about blogs you read for inspiration or news articles about the topic on hand? What about that picture you grabbed (with a creative commons license) to make a header?

Why, just credit (with links) the online sources at the end of your article, of course. Here at the Meta Q that's just what we do. It usually looks a little something like this:

References:
Time Magazine
Wired
The Atlantic
Photo credit: formatbrain

Pick a style

Sometimes web sources aren't enough. Maybe you need something a little more extensive for your reference list Before you do so, make sure you pick a style that works best for you and/or your organization.

Some popular styles to choose from are: AP, APA, MLA, Chicago and Harvard style.

AP style is favored by journalists and is ever-evolving to accommodate writing online. Here at Meta Q, we're big fans of the AP style.

We'll get you started by showing you how to reference a book and a website using AP style. For more information on other styles, please visit their respective websites below.

Make sure to put all items in your bibliography in alphabetical order by the author's last name. If a book has more than one author, list them in alphabetical order.

One author:
Sedaris, D.  Naked.  Back Bay Books, 2000.
Two authors:
Strunk, William Jr. and White, E.B. The Elements of Style, second edition. The Macmillan Co., 1972.

For websites, it's not always easy or possible to provide the all the information, but try your best to ascertain the author, the title of the post, the name of the website, the date the entry was posted, the specific URL and the date you accessed it. A website reference should look a bit like this:

Website:
McComb, L. "Give eReaders a chance," The Meta Q. 5 June 2012, http://themetaq.com/articles/give-ereaders-a-chance (26 June 2012).

Have a question about citing references in your web writing? Let us know!

Photo credit: Double-M


Lindsay McComb's avatar

Lindsay McComb

Writer and Content Specialist at Q Digital Studio

Lindsay McComb is a writer and content specialist at Q Digital Studio. She's a wordsmith with a wicked sense of style and a serious case of Wanderlust. Lindsay can be found tweeting at @themetaq and off-the-clock (and at all hours) at @lindsaymccomb.

Posted

6.26.2012

Categories

Business > Tips

Tags

business, tips, writing

3 comments >

What others are saying

Maria

Hi Lindsay,

and thank you for the useful info! I am working for a non-profit organisation and we have our own blog on the website.

If I write a blog and refer to e.g. a McKinsey report, am I obliged to cite it at the end of the blog in full detail or a link to the source when i write the word ‘McKinsey report’ in the main text would suffice?

Thank you,
Maria

Lindsay McComb

Hi Maria!

It depends. If you’re just referencing a detail in the “McKinsey” report then a hyperlink in the blog entry should be enough. But if you did a lot of research and got a lot of information from the report, then you should cite it below.

I’m a big fan of covering all my bases - so it definitely wouldn’t hurt to cite it twice - both in an in-body link and a reference at the end.

Hope that helps!
Lindsay

Hello there! This is kind of off topic but I need some help from
an established blog. Is it tough to set up your own blog?
I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick. I’m thinking about setting
up my own but I’m not sure where to begin. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Many thanks


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