The Writing Center at USM's Lewiston-Auburn College

Citing Electronic Sources in APA Format

Citing Electronic Sources in APA Format

LAC Guide (updated 3/15/11)

 

 

APA reference formats for electronic sources can be confusing, particularly since electronic mediums and APA guidelines continue to evolve.  Listed here you’ll find samples of the most frequently used electronic sources followed by explanatory and advisory notes. Please be aware that the following examples do not include proper indentation; each item in the list of references should have a half-inch indentation on each line after the first.

 

Articles found in Databases

 

            Articles with a digital object identifier (doi):

Anakwe, U. P., Igbaria, M., & Anandarajan, M.  (2010).  Management practices across cultures:  Role of support in technology usage. Journal of International Business Studies, 31(4), 653-666.  doi: 10.1037/0328-3746.34.3.335.

 

The citation above is an example of the type of electronic source that you will (and should) use most frequently: a peer reviewed journal article retrieved from an aggregated electronic database.  Notice that the information contained in the first part of the reference is identical to the information that you would list if you had actually pulled the journal from library shelves.  The “doi” (digital object identifier) that follows indicates that you didn’t. 

 

            Articles without a doi:

Anakwe, U. P., Igbaria, M., & Anandarajan, M.  (2010).  Management practices across cultures:  Role of support in technology usage.  Journal of International Business Studies, 31(4), 653-666.  Retrieved October 1, 2010, from <URL>.

If the article does not have a doi, use a retrieval statement such as “Retrieved October 1, 2010, from <URL>.”  If it is available, use the URL of the site from which the article originated such as an academic journal’s website rather than the database information.  Both the APA manual and the current edition of the Bedford Handbook are a bit unclear on this type of citation. Your best bet is to find the doi or to go to the online version of the journal that published your piece and use the reference form on the reverse side of this handout. Only include database information if both the journal site and doi are inaccessible. Remember that a search engine such as Google may be able to find an article’s doi even if it doesn’t appear obvious from a database entry.

 

            Articles with no author listed:

Dealing with it.  (2010).  Kansas City Business Journal, 17, 47.  doi:          23.3443/23553-33542/22.

In this example, no author is listed, so the article title is moved into the author’s position.  Typically, a journal article that lists no author isn’t really an “article” at all--it is frequently an editorial, a book review, or part of a regular column within the journal.  In this case, the Kansas City Business Journal produced “Dealing with it” by summarizing a section of R. Brayton Bower’s documentary Anger in the Workplace.  Rather than using this short piece, try to locate an article written by Bower himself, or view the documentary and list that as a source.

 

Websites

 

            When an author is listed: 

Casey, D.  (2010).  Sequencing technologies.  Primer on molecular genetics from the U. S. Department of Energy.  Retrieved from http://www.ornl.gov/hgmis/publicat/primer/intro.html

In this example, Denise Casey (a researcher for Oak Ridge National Laboratory) is identified as the author of the material on the site.  “Sequencing Technologies” is the title of the page we accessed; Primer on Molecular Genetics from the U. S. Department of Energy is the title of the entire document/website.  List both titles, much like you would list an article from a journal.

 

            When an organization is author:                           

American Heart Association.  (n.d.).  American Heart Association health risk assessment.  Retrieved January 10, 2010, from http://www.americanheart.org/risk/quiz.html

In this example, although no individual author is listed, the American Heart Association serves as a “corporate” or “organization” author.  Only one title is listed here, italicized to indicate that it is an independent document rather than part of a larger document.  No copyright or publication date is available for this source, so (n.d.) replaces the typical citation element.  Notice that the retrieval statement contains the date accessed.  Use the date if your online source is likely to change/be updated in future.

 

            When no author is listed:

Fruit of the Nile.  (2000).  Retrieved January 10, 2010, from http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Olympus/9446/main.htm

In this example, we have neither an individual nor a corporate author.  In fact, if you access this website, although the information seems good, you won’t find any indication of the credentials of the site’s composer.  WARNING: As a general rule, avoid referencing websites that don’t list an author/author’s credentials--the information you’re reading may not be accurate.

 

In-text Citations

To cite your electronic sources in text, use the APA guidelines for print sources.  For direct quotation of a specific passage, cite author, date, page (Anakwe, Igbaria, & Anandarajan, 2010, p. 2) or According to Anakwe, Igbaria, and Anandarajan (2010), “Most management research is privately funded” (p. 2). 

 

Unless you have viewed the article as a full image copy, the page numbers you use for an electronic source in-text citation may not correspond directly to a published version of that source.  For instance, although the Anakwe article begins on “p. 653” in the original journal, “p. 1” is the starting point for a database version accessed in html.  For online sources that have no page numbers, the rules vary.  Use paragraph numbers, section headings, or see 6.05 in the APA Publication Manual (6th ed.).  Some writers/teachers prefer to use page numbers assigned by their printouts.  Although not specified in the style guide, this is a common practice.  For paraphrase, you can drop all page numbers (Casey, 2010).