6.d. Citing Online – URLs and Pages

  • URL: The universal resource locator, or web page address, is a critical component of web page citations since it is required to find the exact same page again. For this reason, it is important that you make sure the URL works. The URL for the specific page is generally preferred, rather than the address for the larger Web site, in order to connect readers directly to the information cited.
  •  DOI: The Digital Object Identifier is similar to a URL but is permanent. Referring to a document by its DOI provides a more stable link than simply referring to it by its URL. Some style guides, such as APA, prefer to use DOIs rather than URLs in their citations.
  • Page numbers: Page numbers are normally required when citing direct quotations. However, pages as we expect to see them in the print world do not exist in HTML, the document form most Web pages use. There are two strategies for providing page-level information for online sources.
      1. Cite the specific page that you are quoting from. Do not use the URL for the overall web site if a more specific web page URL is available. This strategy works particularly well if the web page you are citing is relatively short .
      2. For longer web pages with multiple screens of information, you can use any kind of logical divisions, such as subheadings, in place of page numbers. Some citation styles recommend counting the number of paragraphs from the last division or from the top of the page and including that information in the citation. Still other styles say page numbers are not needed or are optional for Web pages.

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