APA REFERENCE STYLE: Internet Documents

Citation Style: ERIC Documents Citation Style: Unpublished Sources

Huge quantities of information are now available electronically via the Internet. Most college students now have access to the World Wide Web, either on computers at school or at home by dialing up a server with a modem. Electronic texts (or "e-texts") are popping up more and more in research papers. There are a number of reasons for this. On one hand, the internet gives users access to the information on hundreds of thousands of servers throughout the world-the breadth and depth of available knowledge is incredible. On the other hand, the documents on the internet are "surfable" from a single location, bringing a global library to your computer. The very fact that you are reading this proves how important the internet has become in education. However, several problems have arisen from this surge in the availability and popularity of electronically-accessed information.

First, many students have no idea how to cite electronic texts. Only the most current style manuals give any hint as to how to write a reference entry for, say, a Web page; even then, the citation formats are sometimes confusing and outdated. Interestingly enough, it is Web sites like this one that can help solve this problem.

Second, compared to print-based resources, e-texts are relatively unstable. While a book consists of information encoded in ink on a printed page, an e-text exists as magnetic pulses over a telephone line. Discounting mishaps such as fire, flood, and theft, books are fairly permanent. As anyone who uses computers can tell you, though, servers go down and phone connections get cut. Electronic documents can literally be here today and gone tomorrow. As we've mentioned before, the whole purpose of a reference is to allow readers to find a source themselves. If the source itself no longer exists, this causes problems for validity and verification.

One possible solution to this problem is to keep careful records. Saving e-texts (either as screenshots or text files) will allow you to produce the source for a reader, even if the document has disappeared from the server on which you found it. In addition, it's also wise to use many different types of documents-books and journals, as well as e-texts-rather than relying heavily on one kind of source.


Author(s) of document if an author is given it is usually at the very beginning or very end of a particular document; when in doubt, look for an email address-this will often lead you to the name of the person who authored the document
Date of publication if given, the document's date will be included somewhere in its text. There is a special way to note if the document has no specific date. date of publication on the web (or the date of most recently updated version)
Title of document the placement of documents' titles varies. Generally, web authors place a title at the top of the actual web page. If no title is there, use the title of the window as it opens in your web browser
Type of document varies according to the source of the document. See below for details on this citation element
Volume and issue number (on-line journals) if a volume and issue number is given, it will probably be in the header for the document, close to the title
Location of document also varies according to the source of your document. See below for details on this citation element


      Assuming that an author or authors are given, put each author's last name, then a comma, then the first initial of the first name, then any additional initials. A period should follow each initial. Separate the last author from the second-to-last author with a comma and ampersand (&). Separate any additional authors by commas. If the listed author is a group or institution, include its full name. In the case of institutional authorship, add a period to end the section; for individual authors, no extra period is needed-the period after the final initial is sufficient.

One authorBuchholz, T.
Two authorsJames, M. & Henrichsen, L.
Three authorsGregg, E., Chapman, S., & Gass, L. W.
Institutional authorOnline Pig Latin Institute.

      For web pages which give the date on which they were electronically published, include the year of publication online, in parenthesis, then end with a period. If no date is given in the e-text, put "n.d." in the parenthesis.

Standard form(1995).
No date given(n.d.).

      For web pages, give the full title of the page, including the subtitle if one is given. Capitalize only the first word of the title, and the first word of any subtitle; also capitalize any proper names in the title. Separate title and subtitle with a colon (:). Don't put a period after a web page title--the period for this element will go after the brackets which follow the document type (see the next section). Don't underline titles of web pages.
      To cite articles in on-line journals (generally accessible through email), you will need to follow the format germane to standard journals: put the article title, without any specific formatting, followed by a period, then the on-line journal title, underlined, followed by the document type in brackets.

Web pageInvestigations into Pig Latin usage in chat room communication [document type].
Web page with subtitlePig latin and email: Who would've unk-thay? [document type].
On-line journalA discussion on international topics in Pig Latin studies. Internet Pork [On-line serial],

      Knowing what type your document is requires some knowledge about how the Internet works. The most common use of the internet is still electronic mail. Email makes use of the network of computers that actually comprises the internet, but emailed documents are not usually accessible to the public. On-line journals, however, often make use of email as a method of distribution-a person sends a message with a certain "request code" in the text, and receives an "issue" of the journal by return email.
      The second most popular use of the Internet is the World Wide Web. Web pages are viewed by use of a "web browser", which takes text, formatting, graphics and links and combines them on a user's screen. Other uses of the internet include discussion groups and newsgroups, which generally deal with a specific subject.
      Finally, it is possible to download text files-papers, reports, and other documents-which are available either on the web or by using "gopher" software. These documents are not web pages, since they are not formatted to be viewed by web browsers.
      A particular item's document type goes after the title, in brackets, and is followed by a period (except in the case of on-line journals). Here are some example types:

Some possibilities[On-line serial]

[WWW page]


[News Bulletin]

[Text file]

      For on-line journals which give a volume number only, put the volume number after the comma which follows the journal's title and descriptor, and follow it with a period. The volume number, like the title, should be underlined.
      If the on-line journal in question gives an issue number only, put the issue number in parentheses, after the comma which follows the journal's title and descriptor. Follow the issue number--or rather, the parenthesis which brackets it, with a period. Issue numbers are never underlined.
      For on-line journals which give a volume number and issue number, put a comma after the journal title and descriptor, then a space, then the volume number, then a space, then the issue number in parentheses, then a period. Only the journal title and volume number are underlined.
      If an on-line journal gives neither volume nor issue number, simply put the journal's title and descriptor, and end with a period.

Volume number onlyJournal Title [On-line serial], 56.
Issue number onlyJournal Title [On-line serial], (3).
Volume and issueJournal Title [On-line serial], 56 (3).
NoneJournal Title [On-line serial].

      Again, the importance of a reference citation is that it allows readers to refer back to the original source. Since libraries and indexes don't catalog web pages and emailed journals, it is necessary to give readers the electronic address of the original document. If the document is a web page, all that is necessary is the Universal Resource Locator (URL) address. If the document is an online journal, it is necessary to provide both the email address as well as the document's "request message". The information is given as listed below, with no extraneous punctuation afterward.

Web pageURL http://www.pigpen.com/news_items/96plj.html
On-line journalAvailable E-mail: nipls@univ.guam.edu Message: get piggy


      Author, A. A. (1996). Title of electronic text [E-text type]. Location of document

      Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (1996). Title of electronic journal article. Title of electronic journal [On-line serial], Volume number (Issue number). Email address and request message


Internet Example 1

Citation:      Bacon, H. P. (n.d.). The pig pen: Frequently asked questions about Pig Latin [WWW page]. URL http://www.hamnet.org/pigfaqs.html

Internet Example 2

Citation:      Ontoast, N. (1996). Communication games for the public school Pig Latin classroom. E-Journal of PL Studies [On-line serial], 16. Available E-mail: hammw@pbarrel.com Message: get EJPLS

Citation Style: ERIC Docs Citation Style: Unpublished Sources

Table of Contents
Citation Style: Books
List of Citation Formats
Citation Style: Chapters
Citation Practice 1
Kinds of Sources
Citation Style: ERIC Docs
Citation Practice 2
Basic Formatting
Citation Style: Internet Docs
Further Information
Citation Style: Unpublished Sources
Citation Style: Conference Papers