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Reference List: Webpages

Introduction

Although not all open web materials are appropriate as scholarly evidence, some web content is appropriate such as technical research reports published online and open access peer-reviewed scholarly journals. Additionally, you may encounter some assignments that ask you to find and cite other web content.

APA 7 acknowledges that distinguishing between various online resources can be difficult since many types of work are now available online (see Section 9.2). When referring to a source accessed from a webpage, you first need to determine what type of material it is. The information could be a journal or magazine article, a personal webpage, an organization’s webpage, an institutional report, a blog post, or an online reference work. Follow APA's guidelines on the reference category first, followed by additional information on the method of retrieval as necessary.

In addition to knowing the type of material, you will also need to assess the website for accuracy and scholarship. For tips on evaluating resources, please visit the Walden Library's Evaluating Methods webpage. To learn more about differentiating between primary and secondary sources and evaluating electronic sources, check out the Walden Library’s Evaluating Resources webinar.

We cover online journal articles on a different page, so here we focus on other web content.

Webpage

When just mentioning the existence of a particular website in text, there is no need to provide a full citation. You can just include the URL in parentheses in the body of your paper. Here is an example:

To begin my content analysis, I read all of the articles posted in January 2018 on CNN's website (www.cnn.com).

However, if you are providing information from a particular webpage, you need to cite it in the text with author and date as you would other sources:

According to the Vartan (2018), the United States has no mandated number of days off for employees.

You should then include a full reference list entry for the source:

Vartan, S. (2018, January 30). Why vacations matter for your health. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/why-vacations-matter/index.html

These are the elements of the reference list entry for the web page cited above:

  • Author. List individual authors as usual, with surname first followed by first and middle initials. When there is no individual author noted, use the organization’s name as the author.
  • Date. To determine the publication year, look for information about when the page was published or created, sometimes at the bottom of the page. Avoid using the copyright date that might be listed at the bottom of every page of the website. Also, note that the APA style experts do not recommend using "last reviewed" dates since those do not always give an accurate sense of when the page was published or if changes were made when it was last reviewed. APA also recommends using the most specific date provided, so if a month and day are available, include those as well. If you cannot find a year listed, use n.d. (meaning no date) in place of the year.
  • Webpage title. Use the page's unique title. The title can occasionally be difficult to determine because webpages have many layers. It might help to scan the page's menu bars to identify the title. Italicize the title of the webpage and use sentence case capitalization. (Note that APA 6 guidelines did not italicize webpage titles.)
  • Organization or website name. List the organization or website name after the webpage title in plain text. If the webpage does not have a specific author, use the organization name in place of the author at the start of the reference entry and leave it out in this place.
  • URL. Give the URL for the specific page and not the organization’s home page. For webpages that include content that is meant to be regularly updated or change over time, include a retrieval date before the URL. Otherwise, include just the URL.The URL can be formatted as automatically hyperlinked in Microsoft Word in blue text and underlined. (Note that APA 6 recommended removing text formatting from the URL, but APA 7 recommends keeping the live hyperlinks for any document meant to be read on a screen.)

Other Webpage Nuances

Retrieval date. A retrieval date is only included if the information is likely to change over time. Some examples provided by APA 7 include UpToDate articles, social media pages or profiles, maps generated by Google Maps, and other website content that updates frequently. Because the example provided above a web page does not have content that is regularly added or changed, the retrieval date is not necessary.

Direct quotations. If you are directly quoting from the web page, you will not be able to include a page number (because there are no pages). Instead, count the paragraphs from the top of the page to determine the paragraph number. Here is an example:

"Jackie has a family history of cancer. Several relatives on her father’s side of the family had breast or ovarian cancer at an early age. Her doctor encouraged her to see a genetic counselor" (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, n.d., para. 2).

Knowledge Check: Basic Webpage