6. Citing Online Sources

The rules for citation styles were developed for print sources — long before online documents were available. So not too surprisingly, it can be difficult to locate identifying information in an online source that is equivalent to that available in print publications. There are no editors to make sure the author puts their name and date on the page, provides meaningful content, or even makes sure their facts are straight. As a result, the burden is put on the reader, including you the researcher, to locate the information identifying the source and to judge if the Web page’s content is accurate and of an appropriate quality.

Sometimes you have to do some investigation, or even be a little creative, to get the necessary information. Understanding the basic purposes of citation can help you determine what information you really need. The three basic purposes of citation are to:
  1. identify your source,
  2. enable others to locate the source, and
  3. provide brief criteria to evaluate the source’s relevance and quality

The following pages provide help in locating and using traditional style elements in the online environment.

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Last updated 8/23/2012 by Sue Thompson
contact: sthompsn@csusm.edu