For some reason, citing online sources in APA style is more challenging to students than citing traditional print sources. I can think of a few reasons why: 1) students are more familiar with citing traditional sources because they cite from them the most; 2) the rules of citing traditional sources rarely ever change, whereas the opposite is true for citing online sources; and 3) APA style continues to update and change the formatting of online sources to accommodate new sources of online information, such as quoting material from social media sites, YouTube videos, and special encyclopedia sites like Wikipedia.org.
In this special Hub, I will focus on formatting online sources for your References page based on the 6th edition of APA style (the latest edition). As you're writing your thesis paper or dissertation, you'll find yourself using ideas or quotations from other print and online sources to strengthen your paper's theme. These quotations and ideas are important aspects of your paper. They breathe credibility into your paper and support your arguments. When using or quoting any outside source for your paper, you must attribute proper credit to the person who originated the idea.
Fortunately, APA style makes it relatively easy for you to attribute sources in your paper, giving your readers a clear understanding of who the original source is. The rules of APA style also direct you to the proper way of citing a source so your readers can obtain more information. You must reference all sources briefly in the main text of your paper, using an in-text citation that directs the reader toward the References page—the final page of the paper. You must adhere to several APA style formatting rules to create a correct Reference page.
With all sources—either online sources or printed sources—you need to alphabetize all of the listings. Otherwise, for specific online sources, use the following tips to make sure you are formatting them correctly.
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Let's Start the References page
APA style requires you to list all of your cited sources on its own page, simply referred to as the "References" page. At the top of the page, type the word References in plain text. Center the word between the left and right margins. Make sure it is on the line directly below the running head.
Formatting Sources (in general)
List each source in its own paragraph. Use a hanging indention, where the first line of the paragraph is flush to the left margin, and every following line of the paragraph is indented 0.5 inches from the left margin. A word processing program can handle this formatting process for you. Double space with 12-point Times New Roman text throughout this page.
Note: Because the running head and page # is part of the 1-inch top margin, you should have 3 single line spaces between it and the word References. You do NOT triple space to begin your References page.
Citing a Blog Source in APA Style
If you're citing a blog post or a message board post, you can acknowledge the type of source in brackets after the title. Sometimes these types of posts won't have an actual author's name, which means you might need to use a screen name, such as:
Citing an Online Video
Citing an online video follows the same format as citing a blog source.
Citing an Online Comment
Sometimes you may need to cite an online comment from a blog, website, or discussion forum.
Citing an E-Mail in APA Style
If you need to cite something that appeared in an e-mail, or in any other type of personal communication, you don't need to list this source on your Reference page. Just list the name of the person, the date of the e-mail and the words "personal communication" inside parenthesis as part of the in-text citation.
Citing an Online Article in APA Style
You will encounter several different types of online articles. Citing most online articles requires the name of the author, the date of publication (in parenthesis), the title of the article (in italics), the Web site name, and then the word "Retrieved" followed by the date and Website name and URL, such as:
Citing an Online Book in APA Style
Because some online books aren't available without purchase, you'll need to use the text "Available from" (instead of "Retrieved from") when listing the Web address, such as:
Citing an Online Interview (APA style)
With many types of interviews now available on the Internet through a podcast or YouTube video, this is now a common type of source. Just be sure to explain the type of source file in square brackets, such as:
Citing an Online Thesis in APA Style
If you retrieve a dissertation or thesis from an online database, you'll need to follow many of the same formatting tips already listed, along with listing the database source, such as:
Citing Online Slides (APA Style)
If the data you're sourcing is from an online presentation with PowerPoint slides or from a PDF document, acknowledge that in brackets after the title of the source, such as:
Finally, the APA style book acknowledges that you may encounter online sources for which no formatting rules yet exists. After all, the types of online sources continually change. If you encounter this anomaly, choose an existing format that closely resembles the source material.
Useful Books on APA Style
Learn more about APA Style - Visit my other Hubs
- Format the Abstract Page in APA Style, 6th Edition
- Format a References Page in APA Style - 6th Edition
- Format a New Paper in APA Style - 6th Edition
- APA Format for Journal Article with Three to Six Authors
- Free Online Plagiarism Checkers
I welcome your comments and/or corrections
SusieShy on August 20, 2014:
Thank you for the information above. I wonder if there are institutions that teach the APA style or better still, is there a reference manager software that can do the job for you ?