April 15 2013

The URL question

by Barbie in APA Style, MLA Style

Many legitimate electronic sources exist, whether you’re citing the online version of a journal article, a newspaper article, or an organization’s fact sheet. However, citing electronic sources can be tricky, and every style guide has different standards when it comes to properly citing online sources. In particular, including the URL and formatting it might cause you trouble.

URLs are not static — the website might disappear or the page might move, rendering your References list inaccurate if you include the URL. However, the URL is a great way to link readers directly to your source. Every style guide offers different suggestions for formatting electronic sources.

Here are some style tips for URLs in your References list:

APA Style

  • The latest edition of APA recommends that you include the item’s digital object identifier (doi), when available, in lieu of the URL because it can change.
  • However, not all electronic sources have a doi. For those that do not, include the full URL preceded by “Retrieved from.”
  • APA allows the use of active or inactive links — just ensure you format your links consistently throughout your References list.

MLA Style

  • Current MLA Style does not require the use of URLs.
  • If you opt to include the URL, enclose it in angle brackets at the end of your entry: <http://www.carpenterdoc.com>
  • Include the designation “Web” in each electronic source after the publication date and before the access date.

While this isn’t a comprehensive list of APA and MLA electronic source guidelines, it’s a start. If you have more questions, we’re available to review your References!