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How To Cite a Website

Whenever you publish a document to the public– whether digital or physical– it’s common practice to cite all your sources accurately. Of all the sources you might cite in your writing specifically knowing how to cite a website correctly is the most important because of the stigma of inaccuracy in online writing.

how to cite a website

Aside from avoiding plagiarism, there are other vital reasons why writers should attribute sources and references in their content. 

This practice isn’t just for formality’s sake. Citing websites and sources incorrectly can ruin your career as a writer. Once many people know you’re taking credit for other people’s work, nobody will take you or your writing seriously. 

How To Cite a Website in a Published Book

Before you go around selling your new book, you must first ensure that all the information you wrote is accurate, and all outside sources are properly attributed. 

Generally, all the citations in a published book are at the end of the manuscript. These are often called Bibliography or Works Cited. 

In that section, your readers can see where you got all the information you mentioned in your books, such as articles or websites. 

Here is an example of a properly written website citation in a published book: 

  • De Ridder, H. (2014). Write your first novel. Accessed April 26 2014 through http://www.createmybooks.com/BE/en/faq

It may also depend on what kind of writing style you follow in your manuscript. The most common are APA, Chicago, and MLA style. 

Here are different citation examples of these writing styles: 

1. APA

  • Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics. 350 B.C.E. Trans. W. C. Ross. The Internet Classics Archives. Ed. Daniel C. Stevenson. 1994. Web. 20 May 2015.

Format: [author.] [title.] [original publication date.] [website name.] [website author.] [update date.] [medium.] [date of access.]

2. MLA

  • Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics. 350 B.C.E. Trans. W. C. Ross. The Internet Classics Archives. Ed. Daniel C. Stevenson. 1994. Web. 20 May 2015.

Format: [author.] [title.] [original publication date.] [website name.] [website author.] [update date.] [medium.] [date of access.]

3. Chicago 

  • Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics.

Format: [fn. #.] [author last name, shortened title.]

How To Cite a Website in an Academic Paper

When it comes to academic papers, website citations have rules and restrictions before you can publish. 

Here are examples of properly cited websites in academic papers:

  • Basements and crawl spaces. (2002, June 23). Retrieved from http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/ref/sfhp1-25.cfm
  • Build smarter with alternative materials. (n.d.). Retrieved June 15, 2002, from http://www.build-smarter.com/
  • Clemens, S. L. (n.d.). Roughing it. Retrieved from http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-in/query/r?ammem/calbkbib:@field(TITLE+@band(Roughing+it.+))
  • E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company. (2002). DuPont Tyvek®. Retrieved June 15, 2002, from http://www.tyvek.com/
  • Hacken, R. (n.d.). Home page. Retrieved January 23, 2002, from http://www.lib.byu.edu/estu/

So the format should be: 

Author’s Last Name, First Initial. Middle Initial. (Date of Publication or Update). Title of work. Retrieved Month Day, Year, from URL from Homepage

UNSW also published some helpful tips on how to cite website sources using Harvard referencing. Here are some of them: 

In-text

Cite the name of the author/ organization responsible for the site and the date created or last revised):

(International Narcotics Control Board 1999) 

List of references

International Narcotics Control Board 1999, United Nations, accessed 1 October 1999, <http://www.incb.org>

How To Cite a Website in a Magazine Article

Magazine articles usually use the same form of writing style in news writing. Reporters should, in all ways, attribute every opinion that isn’t their own. 

If you’re writing a magazine article, always make sure to include the URL of the website you got your source from in your content. 

If the magazine is online, you can hyperlink the URL of the website so readers can visit the original site for more information. When quoting, always use the exact words the speaker said and surround those words in quotation marks. 

Do not forget to include the name of the speaker or author, as well. 

How To Cite a Website in an Infographic

cite a website on infographicsInfographics are a great content marketing tool. Infographics are images that include both information and graphics. 

The purpose of infographics is to capture the attention of any target audience. 

Whenever you promote something, the creative visualization of your product should always be both meaningful and aesthetically-pleasing, because if not, chances are no one will take a second look at your product.

Now, you can make infographics on your own, but sometimes, you need to get information from other sources and websites to tell a coherent story. 

Just make sure these sources are reliable because it’s easy to get in trouble when it comes to wrong information in your content. 

Also, since infographics mostly deal with images and visual data, it’s sometimes rare to cite a website in this marketing medium. 

It’s easiest to provide a shortened URL for the source website at the bottom of the infographic.

Do I Need Permission to Quote a Website in my Online Article

Whenever you write an online article, it can be helpful to get other viewpoints on the subject. 

Quoting someone else’s work can be in a morally grey area. Usually, websites hyperlink the website they got their information from and calls it a day. 

It’s a great way to add other relevant viewpoints of the topic you’re writing about, and the process itself gives credit where credit is due.

However, some websites do not agree with this principle. So if you’re unsure if you can mention someone else’s content and website, it doesn’t hurt to ask permission first. 

Remember, just because most information on the Internet is open to everyone, doesn’t mean you can freely use someone else’s work.

What Does “Citing a Source” Mean?

1. For book reports and papers

If you write something that isn’t your original idea, you mention in the body of your report or paper where you got the information from using proper formatting style.

You should also list all the information for the source in the bibliography section of your paper. The bibliography is at the end of the report or document. 

2. For computer programs

In writing a computer program, you utilize the comments to mention the source of any code you adapted from any outside source or open site. 

Usually, providing the exact URL of the source is adequate. However, there are times when you have to properly follow the terms of any open source license that has a bearing on the code you are utilizing.

3. For formal presentations

Formal presentations usually make use of a slideshow to demonstrate their point of content. To properly cite sources, you must cite the source for images, charts, infographics, and statistics. 

What are the Resources to Cite?

Resources can vary from print form to digital form. To give you a much comprehensive take, here are some examples:

1. Electronic Resources

Electronic sources are any sort of material available on the web. Such as:

  • Blogs
  • Institutional or Government Websites 
  • Facebook or other Social Media posts
  • Computer source codes
  • Email messages

2. Print resources

  • Journal articles
  • Newspaper
  • Books

3. Spoken Material

  • Information or speech on lectures
  • Interviews
  • Personal conversation
  • Scholarly presentations

4. Data

  • Government-published data 
  • Survey data
  • Economic data
  • Geospatial (GIS) data
  • Bioinformatics data

5. Recorded Material

  • Podcasts
  • Television speeches
  • Public broadcasts

6. Images

Reasons Why You Should Always Cite Websites & Sources

As we’ve already mentioned, citing is for more than just avoiding plagiarism. Referencing other people’s work improves the overall quality of all research performed in the subject, and of course, it also makes your writing stronger. 

Here are other compelling reasons why you should always cite a website source:

1. It Helps Your Credibility

Readers are more likely to believe you when you cite all the sources and websites you used. It means that you have done extensive research on your subject, and it adds integrity to all your arguments. 

Citation is essential because, in today’s society, fake news is unarguably rampant. Therefore, you always need to strengthen your position in your writing by providing multiple viewpoints and other pre-existing information. 

2. It Aids Your Readers and Audience

By correctly citing your references, You can help your readers by providing more useful information about the subject of your content.

When we quote a source, we often just put a little context behind the whole topic, and sometimes, readers may want to read the entire quote to help them understand the subject better. 

They may also have questions at the end of your content, and your cited websites and sources will help them answer their queries. 

Your references are like a roadmap to all this helpful information. And your readers will most likely get back to you for more useful content if they know you cite all websites and sources properly.

3. To Show Due Diligence

It’s not uncommon to make mistakes whenever you write something. The fault may lie in a weak argument, wrong information, or a bad idea. Whenever that happens, proper citation can save your dignity and credibility.

If you correctly cite your work, it’s easier to point out where you messed up. Your readers will see it, and they will be encouraged not to place 100% of the blame on you. If you don’t, every thought, argument, word, and point will be all on you by default. And you don’t want that.

A proper citation shows all the processes that took place before you published your content. It also proves due diligence on your part. Therefore, it’s easier to convince your readers that you are not the source of any inaccuracies. 

Again, citing your websites and sources isn’t just for giving credit; it also protects you from the mistakes you may have overlooked in your writing. 

How to Know if a Website is a Reputable Source to Cite

The internet is a blessing to us all. It provides us an endless well of information with just a few clicks, and it helps us connect with people all over the world with just a push of a button. 

However, not all websites can be trusted. If you want to cite a reliable source, there are several ways to figure if they’re the real deal or not. Here are some easy ways to check:

1. Look Out for Commercial or “Product” Sites

These websites usually end their domains in “.com.” And chances are these commercial websites create their content in favor of the products or services they want you to buy. This bias is the case more often than not, that’s why you should always be wary of the information they present in public. 

2. Check to See if The Site’s Updated

When was the last time that website published new content? If the site hasn’t posted in a while, you might not get that much credible resource on the information they posted. 

If your writing has outdated information, readers may doubt the truthfulness of your content. 

3. Observe the Website’s Writing Style

Reputable websites always ensure that their writing style is natural for a general audience to understand. However, this does not mean that they ditch the proper rules of English grammar. 

If the content of a website has spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, it means whoever wrote it doesn’t care much about the information’s credibility. Steer clear.

4. Check the Authors

Always look out for website content that publishes the real author’s name in every post. It means that the person who wrote the article stands by the truthfulness of their content. 

Also, it’s helpful to check if the author behind the post has any relevant background on the content they wrote. If the content is something medical, then the author must be a doctor or someone with medical credentials. If the topic is related to gadgets, then the author must be tech-savvy or an expert in that subject. 

5. Consider the Site’s Design

You want a website that is run by professionals and experts. Most often than not, these websites’ designs are always sleek and designed nicely. If not, then the site you’re on might be run by amateurs.

However, it’s not enough that you check the site’s reliability on this factor alone. Nowadays, it’s easy to hire a professional web designer to make a beautiful website. Just be careful.

Conclusion

Writers, researchers, students, and scholars must learn how to cite websites and sources correctly. The digital age may have allowed us unlimited access to information, but that doesn’t mean we can grab someone else’s work and opinions and pass them off as our own. 

Plagiarism is a severe offense, and proper citation often draws the line between a successful and spun content. 

Unlike other sources, websites can be a little tricky to reference and cite. Not all sites offer accurate information, and sometimes, some websites don’t permit anyone to copy or even mention their content for free. 

Reliable website sources are the way to go, especially those from universities, government websites, press releases, and verified websites. 

Be meticulous when citing websites, and always follow written and social etiquette. 

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