Dear Style Expert,
I found a very useful website and cited a lot of information from it in my paper. But how do I write an in-text citation for content I found on a website? Do I just put the URL in the sentence where I cite the information?
This is a tricky question, but we can help! The short answer is that in most cases no, you do not put the URL in the text of the paper. In fact, the only time you would put a URL in the text would be to simply mention a website in passing. Because you’re citing specific information, you will need to write a regular APA Style author–date citation. Luckily, writing the in-text citation for a website or webpage is easy: Simply include the author and year of publication. The URL goes in the corresponding reference list entry (and yes, you can leave the links live).
The American Nurses Association (2006) issued a position statement insisting that pharmaceutical companies immediately cease using thimerosal as a vaccine preservative.
Note that the title of the website or webpage should be italicized in the reference list if the work on the page stands alone but not italicized if it is part of a greater whole (if this is ambiguous on the source, just choose what you think makes the most sense for the situation). In deciding how to categorize material on a website for a reference, it may be helpful to consider whether what is on the website is similar to an existing category of document type—for example, this reference is a position statement, which is similar to a press release, white paper, or report; hence the italic title. To clarify the document type, you can also specify the format in brackets after the title.
Determining Website Authors
It can be confusing to determine who the author of a website or webpage is. Often, the author is a group or agency rather than a particular individual. For example, the author of the position statement cited above is the American Nurses Association. If the website or webpage truly does not have an author, substitute the title of the page for the author in the in-text citation and reference list entry (see this post on missing reference pieces for examples of how to do this).
Determining Website Dates
A second source of confusion is that many websites or webpages do not include publication dates. If no date of publication is provided, use the letters n.d. (which stand for “no date”). The copyright date on the website itself should not be used as the publication date for particular content on that site.
If multiple dates are provided, use the most recent date on which the content was changed. For example, if the site says the content was first published in 2010 and last updated on August 6, 2016, then use the date 2016 in the in-text citation and reference list. However, if the site says it was first published in 2010 and last reviewed in July 2016, then use the date 2010 because a review does not imply that any information was changed.
Multiple Website Citations
If you use information from multiple pages on a website, create a separate reference list entry for each page, with in-text citations that correspond to the appropriate reference list entry. It is common for writers to have multiple entries with the same author and year, so to differentiate these entries, use a letter after the year (e.g., 2016a) or after n.d. (e.g., n.d.-a; more examples here), assigning the letter by putting the references in alphabetical order by title in the reference list. Put references with no date before references with dates, and put in-press references last.
In text, you can cite these references separately as usual (e.g., American Nurses Association, 1991b), or you can combine citations with the same author if desired. Simply state the author once and then provide the years of the applicable references in chronological order, separated by commas.
Combined in-text citations:
American Nurses Association (n.d., 1991a, 1991b, 2015)
(American Nurses Association, n.d., 1991a, 1991b, 2015)
Do you have more questions about how to create in-text citations for content from websites or webpages? Leave a comment below.
Why we use parenthetical / in-text citations
Researchers place brief parenthetical descriptions to acknowledge which parts of their paper reference particular sources. Generally, you want to provide the last name of the author and the specific page numbers of the source. If such information is already given in the body of the sentence, then exclude it from the parenthetical citation.
Place the parenthetical citation where there is a pause in the sentence – normally before the end of a sentence or a comma. The in-text citation will differ depending on how much information you provide within the sentence.
Example with author’s name in text:
Johnson argues this point (12-13).
This point had already been argued (Johnson 12-13).
Citing sources with more than one author
If you use sources with the same author surnames, then include a first name initial. If the two sources have authors with the same initials, then include their full names:[su_spacer]
(J. Johnson 12-13).
(John Johnson 12-13).
If there are two or three authors of the source, include their last names in the order they appear on the source:
(Smith, Wollensky, and Johnson 45).
If there are more than three authors, you can cite all the authors with their last name, or you can cite the first author followed by “et al.” Follow what is shown the works cited list.
(Smith et al. 45).
Citing sources without an author
Some sources do not have authors or contributors – for instance, when you cite some websites. Instead, refer to the name of the source in your parenthetical citation in place of the author. Shorten / abbreviate the name of the source but ensure that your reader can easily identify it in your works cited (abbreviate the title starting with the same word in which it is alphabetized). Punctuate with quotations or italicize as you would in its works cited form (a book is italicized; an article is in quotes).
Double agents are still widely in use (Spies 12-15, 17).
With prices of energy at new highs, bikes have been increasingly used (“Alternative Transportation” 89).
Citing part of a work
When citing a specific part of a work, provide the relevant page or section identifier. This can include specific pages, sections, paragraphs or volumes. When the identifier is preceded by an abbreviation or word, place a comma between the identifier and the source reference.
Part of a multivolume work
It is arguably the most innovative period in history (Webster, vol 4).
Chapter within a book (if no specific numbers can be referenced)
The electoral college undermines democracy (Sanders, “Government Injustices”).
Article in a periodical
Allen claims there is an inverse correlation between higher taxes and patriotic feelings worldwide (B2).
When citing a specific page(s) of a multivolume work, precede the page number by the volume number and a colon. Do not separate by a comma.
It was arguably the most innovative period in history (Webster 4:12-15).
Use “par.” or “pars.” when referring to specific paragraphs.
The marketing dollars of big studio films has overshadowed good indie movies (Anderson, pars. 12-34).
Citing group or corporate authors
In your parenthetical citation, cite a corporate author like you would a normal author. Preferably, incorporate the corporate author in your text instead of the parenthetical citation.
Facial transplants pose significant risk to the autoimmune system (American Medical Association 12-43).
As noted by the American Medical Association, facial transplants pose significant risk to the autoimmune system (12-43).
Citing an entire source
When citing an entire work, there are no specific page numbers to refer to. Therefore it is preferable to refer to the source within the text itself with either the author or the title of the source.
Hartford suggests the Internet provides more distractions than it does information.
Citing multiple works by the same author
If you reference more than one source by the same author, distinguish the parenthetical citations by including the name of the source. Use a comma to separate the author from the source.
Wars can be economic catalysts (Friedman, World 77-80).
Industrialized nations are better equipped to rebound from recessions (Friedman, “High Tides” 56).
Citing indirect sources
When an original source is unavailable, then cite the secondhand source – for instance, a lecture in a conference proceedings. When quoting or paraphrasing a quote, write “qtd. in” before the author and pages.
John Murray calls Tim Smith “interesting but egotistical” (qtd. in Jesrani 34).
Citing literary / classic and religious works
For works such as novels, plays and other classic works, it’s helpful to provide further identifying information along with the page information. Do this by adding a semicolon and then the identifying information following the page number.
(Tolstoy 5; pt. 2, ch. 3).
When citing classic poems and plays, replace page numbers with division numbers (part, book, scene, act). The below refers to book 10 line 5. Bear in mind the divisions and the way they are written can vary by source.
Fear plays a role in Homer’s Odyssey (10.5).
The title of books in the Bible and other famous literary works should be abbreviated.
(New Jerusalem Bible, Gen. 2.6-9).
Placing parenthetical citations in direct quotations
When directly quoting a source, place the parenthetical citation after the quote.
Sanders explains that economic woes are due to “the mortgage crisis and poor risk assessment” (20).
Place the parenthetical citation at the end of an indented quotation. There should be no period after the parenthetical citation. The last sentence of the indented quote should look like:
It’s unclear whether multilateral tariffs are disruptive to bilateral talks. (Evert 30-31)
Citing online sources
Generally, follow the same principals of parenthetical citations to cite online sources. Refer to the author, and if possible, a permanent identifier that would be the same for any reader.
The economy will rebound with the new monetary policies (Smith).
Solar power will become the primary source of energy (Williams 2).
Citing online sources with no author
If there is no author, use the title that begins the citation, either the article or website title. Be sure it also takes the same formatting, i.e. articles are in quotes and website titles are italicized. Shorten / abbreviate the name of the source but ensure that your reader can easily identify it in your works cited (abbreviate the title starting with the same word in which it is alphabetized).
Elephants are thought to be one of the smartest mammals (“Smart Elephants”).
Nineteen men and women were convicted (Salem Witchcraft Trials).
Note: Ideally, when citing online sources, try to reference the source within your sentence, with either the author or the title to avoid writing a parenthetical citation.
Where to put the parenthetical citations:
- Place parenthetical citations at the end of the sentence you are paraphrasing and quoting. For example: The destruction of the argentine is due to many socioeconomic factors (Taylor 33).
- Even when quoting, place the parenthetical citations after the quotations.
“Mamma always said stupid is as stupid does” (Gump 89).
When quoting four lines or more, indent every line you are quoting by one inch (or 10 spaces) and do not use quotes.
The use of nuclear weapons in today’s society is strikingly alarming. Though the United States is the only country to employ it in the past, they are at the same time the country that condemns its use the most. While this may seem hypocritical, is it the most proper action for the United States to make as the global leader. (Taparia 9)