How to cite electronic sources

academic conventions for the digital age

Referencing

1. More and more data is now stored electronically in a variety of forms.

2. When quoting, your sources may be in some digital form.

3. The information might be stored in different types of location.

4. Many of these locations are known as Internet ‘sites’ or ‘addresses’.

5. The sources you are most likely to encounter are as follows:

  • FTP site
  • Web site
  • Newsgroup
  • CD-ROM
  • E-mail

Accuracy

1. Details of addresses should be recorded with complete accuracy.

2. All use of capital and lower case letters must be respected.

3. All punctuation must be recorded exactly as given.

4. No punctuation should be added.

5. For instance, don’t put a full stop at the end of an address:

http://www.mantex.co.uk not http://www.mantex.co.uk.

6. Typographic symbols (#,@,!,~) should be incorporated accurately.

7. You should also include a record of the date the site was visited.

8. Electronic documents may easily be updated at any time.


FTP (File Transfer Protocol) Sites

1. When giving reference to sources located via FTP, you should provide the following information. The electronic ‘address’ of the document is enclosed in angle brackets (which are optional).

  • the author’s name (if known)
  • the full title of the document in quotation marks
  • the date of publication (if available)
  • the abbreviation ftp
  • the address of the ftp site, with no closing punctuation
  • the full path to the paper, with no closing punctuation
  • the date of access in parentheses

Example:

Bruckman, Amy. “Approaches to Managing Deviant Behavior in Virtual
Communities.”

<ftp://ftp.media.mit.edu/pub/asb/papers/deviance-chi-94>
(4 Dec. 1994).


World Wide Web (WWW) Sites

1. To cite files available for viewing or downloading via the World Wide Web by means of Firefox, Internet Explorer, or other Web browsers, you should provide the following information:

  • the author’s name (if known)
  • the full title of the document in quotation marks
  • the title of the complete work if applicable in italics
  • the date of publication or last revision (if available)
  • the full http address (URL) enclosed within angle brackets
  • the date of visit in parentheses

[ HTTP = HyperText Transfer Protocol ]
[ URL = Uniform Resource Locator ]

Example:

Burka, Lauren P. “A Hypertext History of Multi-User Dimensions.”
MUD History. 1993.
<http://www.ccs.neu.edu/home/1pb/mud-history.html>
(5 Dec. 1994).


Newsgroup (USENET) messages

1. When citing information posted by participants in newgroup discussions, you should provide the following information:

  • the author’s name (if known)
  • the author’s e-mail address, enclosed in angle brackets
  • the subject line from the posting in quotation marks
  • the date of publication
  • the name of the newsgroup, enclosed in angle brackets
  • the date of access in parentheses

Example:

Slade, Robert. <res@maths.bath.ac.uk> “UNIX Made Easy.”
26 Mar. 1996. <alt.books.reviews> (31 Mar. 1996).


E-mail messages

1. When citing electronic mail correspondence, you should provide the following information:

  • the author’s name
  • the author’s e-mail address, enclosed in angle brackets
  • the subject line from the posting in quotation marks
  • the date of publication
  • the kind of communication
  • the date of access in parentheses

Example:

Franke, Norman. <franke1@llnl.gov> “SoundApp 2.0.2.” 29 Apr. 1996. Personal e-mail. (3 May 1996).


CD-ROM disk

1. When citing information located on a CD-ROM disk, the source is treated as if it were a normal (print) publication, and you should provide the following information:

  • the author’s name (if known)
  • the full title of the document in quotation marks
  • the full title of the CD-ROM
  • the publisher
  • the date of publication (if available)

Example:

Norman Higginbottam, “The Sounds of Muzak”, Beethoven Revisited,
Digital Resources, 1996.


Details gratefully quoted and adapted with permission from Andrew Harnack and Gene Kleppinger, online! a reference guide to using internet sources, St Martin’s Press, 1997.

© Roy Johnson 2004


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