I can’t find a guideline for the source I want to cite

As information formats and technologies are changing rapidly, standards and conventions for citing many electronic sources have not yet been formalised by style authorities. If there is no specific guideline for a particular electronic source, base your citation on an existing guideline.

What is the 'accessed' date?

The accessed date is the date you viewed or downloaded the source. As online materials can change or disappear at any time, you must cite the date on which you accessed the information.

I need to cite a website and don’t know where to look for 'bibliographic' information

Finding bibliographic information for print sources like books is easy; the required details are usually on the first few pages. With electronic sources, finding the relevant information is not always so straightforward. You may need to look a little harder and be resourceful.

How do I find the author of a webpage?

To find this information, try the following:

  • Scroll down to the bottom of the webpage and look at the footer information.
  • Look for an 'about' link.
  • Look at the page header for organisational logos or other identification.
  • If there is no information on the webpage you want to cite, go to the home page of the website and look for author information there.
  • If authorship of a site or web page is ascribed to an individual, cite them as author. If there is no specific named author, then identify the organisation that published the information; ascribe authorship to the smallest identifiable organisational unit.

Who is the publisher of a website?

The term publisher is used to cover both the traditional idea of a publisher of printed sources, as well as organisations responsible for maintaining websites. In this case, look for the largest identifiable unit.

Where do I find the date on a webpage?

  • The date of publication is often provided in the footer area of the page with the author’s name.
  • If a web page includes both a creation date and the date it was last updated, cite only the ‘last updated’ date.
  • If a web document has no date, check the site homepage. If a date is available there, cite that.
  • If you are citing a wiki, check the history of the page and cite the date of the most recent revision.

What if there's no author, publisher or date?

See the table of citations for more information. In the unlikely event that you can’t find any information, cite the URL of the site as the author. However, if the sponsorship and authorship of a site can't be identified, think twice about using it for your research. Currency is also important. If factual or statistical information is undated, don’t use it.

What about page numbers?

Many electronic resources have no page numbers. When they are not available, omit this information from your in-text citation.

In the case of electronic journal articles (those available in online form only), you can use section or paragraph numbers. Please check with your tutor for their preferences). Sections of an article are divided by subheadings. For example:

(Morris 2004, sec. 3, par. 2)

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