Education | Thursday, November 14, 2019
A writer is nothing without good research. You must look for the right sources to give you the correct information. It's only natural that a writer would turn to the Internet to find these sources because it's fast and easy.
Once these sources (websites) have been found, they must be cited properly. In this new age of research where websites and the internet have become the primary source of information, it's important to make sure that you have everything properly formatted per your style guide. Here are some tips for citing websites.
Make sure the website is citable
Does the website in question have:
An author? There are some articles with unknown authors that can be credible and source-worthy, but most often if a writer doesn't want to stand by their words and leave their work unsigned then you should tread lightly. Having an author on the website means that the author is willing to place their name next to their work no matter how it's perceived.
A credible suffix? A website suffix is what goes at the end of the URL. Credible suffixes include .gov for government websites, .com for corporate websites, .edu for educational websites, and .org for nonprofit organization websites. If the website in question doesn't have one of those suffixes, then it's most likely that it wasn't written by a credible source or institution. Also beware of blogs, which do have .com addresses but they're preceded by the blog host's name (like Wordpress or Tumblr). Though these sites can have accurate information, it's likely that it wasn't edited or verified and is just simply the author's opinion.
A date? If you're looking at an article and it doesn't have a date, be wary of this source. A date will help give you insight into what time the author or organization was writing the site and how relevant the information might be. Of course, many nonprofits or corporations don't necessarily date the individual pages that have info on them, but they should have a copyright date on their about me page or at the bottom of the home page.
Good design? Though not every single website will have an award-winning design, it's certainly something to pay attention to. Does the site look like it was professionally done or does it look like someone used a blog platform's inherent design features? Is the font type something whimsical looking like Comic sans or is it something more traditional like Times New Roman? These might be small details but they go into the overall credibility of the website. While you're looking at it if something seems… off then it might be.
How to cite a website in your paper
As we all know, different style guides have different rules when it comes to formatting—both within a paper and in the works cited or references. Depending on what style guide you're using will depend on the look and feel of the website citation. Now we'll go over and give examples on how to cite a website both in text and in the references section of the most popular style guide.
The American Psychological Association also gives us some good detail about what a website citation should look like both in text and on the references page.
APA outlines a lot of very specific examples of how your citation should look like depending on what kind of medium it is. It gives information about online book reviews, Kindle books, data sets, online encyclopedias, YouTube videos, podcasts, and more. For more specific instructions on your source, check out the APA Manual.
Here is a sample of APA citation.
Satalkar, B. (2010, July 15). Water aerobics. Retrieved from http://www.buzzle.com
It's important to note that if your website has no known author, then use the organization name first in the citation. If your website or the page has no known date then put (n.d.) in place of the date in the citation. Remember that when you're dealing with a website, just grab as much information about the source as you possibly can. Don't be lazy! Make sure that it's that you really cannot find the author's name and not because you didn't look or make the effort to look in the right places. When it comes to in-text citations for websites in APA, stick to the conventions of their author-date system.
Use a variety of sources
In this article, we've examined how to determine if a website is credible, and how to handle the citation once you figure out what it is. In this new electronic era of research, it's important to know how to use websites in our writing in the best possible way. Luckily, learning how to cite websites and other electronic resources are the most difficult to learn. Once you master how to do these, it's easier to write other citations like books or journals.
There is also the MLA format of citation. You can read them up yourself.