APA Style
Citing Electronic Sources

The last edition of the APA manual was published in 1994. Standards for citing electronic sources have been evolving steadily since that time. More recent style guides recommend eliminating some of the information called for in the APA standards described below (see Harnack and Kleppinger). They also provide formats for citing information not accounted for by the APA manual. We first provide the general principles of electronic citation as given by the Manual of Publication for the American Psychological Association, 4th Edition. Our detailed examples below, however, draw upon both the APA style and those who have adapted it to account for what they have not provided.

Important Note: Be sure to check with your instructor about which electronic sources he or she considers legitimate for the purposes of your research. In general, it is your responsibility to evaluate electronic sources carefully before you use them. Remember that anyone from your little sister to a rocket scientist can "publish" on the internet.


Basic Elements

References Page

Page Numbers

Parenthetical references within your paper

Examples of Electronic Citations for the Reference Page
 Online Article

Web Sites

Online Abstract


Online Posting 

Sources for this page | APA Website


APA/Basic Elements of Electronic Citation

The APA requires that three general elements be included in electronic source documentation, in addition to all the other information generally included in standard source documentation. They are: 1) form of electronic media, 2) availability (location), and 3) date of access. Immediately following are general formats for citing electronic media in an APA "References" list and parenthetically in the text. Examples of specific types of citations may be found below.

APA / Citing Electronic Sources in References section

Each entry in a "References" list should contain the author, year of publication (in parentheses), title, and publishing data. Follow the regular APA guidelines for these elements. In addition, electronic citations should contain the 1) form, 2) availability (i.e., location), and 3) date that the electronic source was accessed by you:

     Author's Lastname, Initial(s). (Date of publication

or "No Date" if unavailable). Title of work or article

[Number of paragraphs]. Title of Complete Work. [Form].

Available: Specify path or URL [date of access].

APA / About Page Numbers

At this time, the APA does not have a style for unpaginated sources. For references which would normally require page numbers (such as journal articles), Li and Crane suggest indicating the length of the document in some way, either by counting paragraphs or estimating the number of pages. (See

APA / Parenthetical References within Your Paper to an Electronic Source

Document sources in the text by citing the author and the date of the work in parentheses (see APA Manual, pp. 168-74). To cite a specific part of a source, indicate the page, chapter, etc. Use page numbers for quotations if possible. Omit them if not available.


From a very young age, children can provide surprisingly accurate descriptions

of how they were injured (Peterson 1996). 

Examples of Electronic Citations in the References Section

Online Articles (Scholarly Journal, Newspaper, Magazine)

Online Article in Scholarly Journal

     Peterson, C. (1996, January). The preschool child

witness [9 paragraphs]. Canadian Journal of Behavioral

Science [On-line serial], 26. Available: http://

[1997, July 14].

     Moran, C. (1998, April). From a high-tech to a 

low-tech writing classroom: 'You can't go home again' 

[20 paragraphs]. Computers and Writing [On-line

serial],5 (1). Available:


[1998, Sept. 6].

Go to Top

Online Article in a Newspaper

     Harmon, A. (1996, Sept. 6). Have laptop, will track

each blip in the market [12 paragraphs]. New York Times

on the Web [On-line]. Available: http://

06tick.html [1998, Sept. 10].

     Sexton, J. (1995, July 29). Career in Bodegas

ends in death of man and son [6 paragraphs]. New York

Times, p. A21 (late ed.). [On-line]. New York Times

Online. Available: Nexis/Lexis [1997, August 5].

Go to Top

Online Article in a Magazine

     Jaquet, J. (1998, June 8). Taking back the people's


air [7 paragraphs]. The Nation Digital Edition.[On-line].

Available: [1998, Sept. 7].

     Taggart, S. (1998, Sept. 4). "DNA testing for the dogs

[6 paragraphs]. Wired. [On-line]. Available: http://

[1998, Sept. 7].

Go to Top

On-line Abstracts

     Weintraub, L. (1997, Summer). Inner-city post-

traumatic stress disorder. [On-line]. Journal of Psychiatry and

Law, 25(2), 249-286. Abstract from: PsycLIT Accession

Number: 1998-01611-002.

Go to Top


At this time, the APA does not provide specific instructions as to how to cite World Wide Web sites. The following examples are based on Harnack and Kleppinger's Online! A Reference Guide to Using Internet Sources and the general citation principles given above. Harnack and Kleppinger recommend the use of angle brackets around URLs and have dropped the APA's "Available:" designator. The use of brackets is fast becoming a general standard for URL citation. The date following the author name should be either the copyright or "last updated" date from the website. The date following the URL should be the date that you looked at the website.


Professional Website

     Walker, J. (1996). APA-style citations of

electronic sources. <

walker/apa.html> [1997, April 29].

     Simons, M. (1998, July 1). Thomas Hardy Resource

Library. <>

[1998, Sept. 7].


Personal Website

     Duncan, D. (1998, Aug. 1). Homepage.


[1998, Sept. 7 ]. 

     Klein-Smith, S. (1998, Aug. 15). Homepage.

<> [1998, Sept. 7].

Go to Top

Online Book

     Dickens, C. (1871; 1998, Aug.). Great Expectations.

Project Gutenberg. <


     Shelley, M.W. (1818; 1995). Frankenstein. M.L. Grant.


Go to Top

E-Mail Communication

E-mail, chat groups, discussion groups, and messages from electronic bulletin boards are cited as personal communication within your paper. Cite the source in parentheses, using the communicator's full name (if you have not already stated it in your sentence) and the date of the message:

     (Wiley Coyote, personal communication, April 30, 1997).

The APA instructs writers to avoid listing email communications in the Reference section (APA, 1994, p. 173-174). However, Harnack and Kleppinger suggest that some writers may feel it prudent to include some scholarly email communications in the references section and provide a format for doing so:

          Coyote, W. <> (1997,

      April 30). Re: Acme products. [Personal email].

      (1997, May 1).


Go to Top

Online Posting

The APA considers online postings to be a form of personal communication (see Email Communication). Harnack and Kleppinger suggest the following format for those who wish to cite them:

     Galloway, P. <> (1997, May 14)

Spamming. <

lists_archive/Humanist/v11/0031.html> (1998, Sept. 6).

Go to Top

CD-ROM (serial and one-time publication)

     Reporter, M. (1996, 13 Apr.). Electronic citing

guidelines needed. [CD-ROM], p. C1. New York Times, p. C1

(late ed.). [Online]. New York Times Ondisc. UMI-Proquest.

[1996, October].

     U.S. population and educational attainment. (1990).

1990 U.S. Census of Population and Housing. [CD-ROM]. 

US Bureau of the Census.

Go to Top

Sources for this page

     American Psychological Association Publication Manual,

4th ed. (1994). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological


     Harnack, A., & Kleppinger, E. (1998). Online!: A Reference

Guide to Using Internet Sources. New York: St. Martin's Press.




© 2003 The University of Wisconsin-Madison Writing Center <>
All materials on this web site, including images, are the property of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Writing Center, and are not to be used for profit. For more information, please click on our copyright page.

The information included in these handouts is, of necessity, generic. Keep in mind that the specific assignment from your course instructor should be your guide, and that you should seek clarification from your instructor if you have any questions.