In Text Citation Online Essay Editing

Dear Style Expert,

I found a very useful website and cited a lot of information from it in my paper. But how do I write an in-text citation for content I found on a website? Do I just put the URL in the sentence where I cite the information?

Thanks,

Wallace

Dear Wallace,

This is a tricky question, but we can help! The short answer is that in most cases no, you do not put the URL in the text of the paper. In fact, the only time you would put a URL in the text would be to simply mention a website in passing. Because you’re citing specific information, you will need to write a regular APA Style author–date citation. Luckily, writing the in-text citation for a website or webpage is easy: Simply include the author and year of publication. The URL goes in the corresponding reference list entry (and yes, you can leave the links live).

Website Example 

In-text citation:

The American Nurses Association (2006) issued a position statement insisting that pharmaceutical companies immediately cease using thimerosal as a vaccine preservative.

 

Note that the title of the website or webpage should be italicized in the reference list if the work on the page stands alone but not italicized if it is part of a greater whole (if this is ambiguous on the source, just choose what you think makes the most sense for the situation). In deciding how to categorize material on a website for a reference, it may be helpful to consider whether what is on the website is similar to an existing category of document type—for example, this reference is a position statement, which is similar to a press release, white paper, or report; hence the italic title. To clarify the document type, you can also specify the format in brackets after the title. 

Determining Website Authors

It can be confusing to determine who the author of a website or webpage is. Often, the author is a group or agency rather than a particular individual. For example, the author of the position statement cited above is the American Nurses Association. If the website or webpage truly does not have an author, substitute the title of the page for the author in the in-text citation and reference list entry (see this post on missing reference pieces for examples of how to do this).

Determining Website Dates

A second source of confusion is that many websites or webpages do not include publication dates. If no date of publication is provided, use the letters n.d. (which stand for “no date”). The copyright date on the website itself should not be used as the publication date for particular content on that site.

If multiple dates are provided, use the most recent date on which the content was changed. For example, if the site says the content was first published in 2010 and last updated on August 6, 2016, then use the date 2016 in the in-text citation and reference list. However, if the site says it was first published in 2010 and last reviewed in July 2016, then use the date 2010 because a review does not imply that any information was changed.

Multiple Website Citations

If you use information from multiple pages on a website, create a separate reference list entry for each page, with in-text citations that correspond to the appropriate reference list entry. It is common for writers to have multiple entries with the same author and year, so to differentiate these entries, use a letter after the year (e.g., 2016a) or after n.d. (e.g., n.d.-a; more examples here), assigning the letter by putting the references in alphabetical order by title in the reference list. Put references with no date before references with dates, and put in-press references last.


In text, you can cite these references separately as usual (e.g., American Nurses Association, 1991b), or you can combine citations with the same author if desired. Simply state the author once and then provide the years of the applicable references in chronological order, separated by commas. 

Combined in-text citations:

American Nurses Association (n.d., 1991a, 1991b, 2015)

(American Nurses Association, n.d., 1991a, 1991b, 2015)

Do you have more questions about how to create in-text citations for content from websites or webpages? Leave a comment below.

Cheers!

—Chelsea Lee

We recommend establishing the Citation Settings first and then adding the actual in-text information.

  • Click the In-Text Citation tab.

  • By default, your in-text citation formatting will be created for references that are in a single language.  You have the option to add additional language formats if your in-text citations will have references in more than one language). To create an output style that supports multiple languages, click here to learn about adding alternate languages.

  • Under Reference Type, select Generic.

  • You only define the citation format for the Generic Reference Type. This definition will be used for all reference types.

  • The Fields for this type box shows all the fields available for the Reference Type, Generic.

  • Select and move the fields you need (for example: for an author/date citation, you would select the Authors, Primary field and click the right arrow icon to move it to the Output Field Order box, then you would select the Pub Year field and click the right arrow to move it over as well).

  • In the Output Field Order box, select a field and look at the FieldSettings to the right of the window. The FieldSettings change to guide you through the defining process. The first group of settings, Field Settings, is fairly consistent for each type of field. You also designate in the Field Settings when that particular field should print -- always, when the source type in the reference is set to print or when the source type is set to electronic.  It determines the formatting of the field itself as opposed to the format of the elements within the field. In some cases, such as Volume, there is very little that is needed. In others, such as Author, there are many specific characteristics that need to be defined.  

    You can also add Field Comments for each field used within a reference type.  Field comments also appear when adding a new reference or editing an existing reference.

    Tip
    :  Detailed information about Field Settings typically used for defining an in-text citation are listed below.  This will help you become familiar with the different types of options available for the various fields.

  • Under Preview of Citation Output, click the Update button to see the fields you have added and any field formatting you have added.

  • Enter any information you would like to include about this field.  This field is information only and does not affect the formatting or output.

    Since you have already set your Preceding and Following characters under Citation Settings you do not need to do that here.

  • RefWorks first attempts to print enough names to differentiate the citations but does not print more than the limits you set in Author Settings.

  • Anonymous:

    By default, RefWorks inserts the word Anonymous in place of author names if the author field in a reference is left blank. If you want to insert another word, such as "Unknown", delete the word "Anonymous" and type "Unknown". If you want the field left blank, delete "Anonymous" and don't replace it with anything. If you want to replace the author with the title, click the Use Title box.

  • Separators:

    Varies depending upon where the separator is located (i.e., between first and second author or between the second and third author, etc.). In our example under If only 2 use, press the spacebar type "and" (without the quote marks) then press the spacebar again.  It will display as ( and ). You need to include a space on each side of the and or the result will be John JonesandBob Smith.

    Leave the comma in the If more than 2 use box and in the Before Last box. Notice that there are spaces after the comma and before and after the and.

  • First Author:

    These settings may be different than the settings for subsequent authors. Under Name select the correct order of the names for the output style. For example, if the style requires names to be last name first followed by a comma then the first name and middle name select Last, First Middle. The Initial box determines the format of the name. For example, if the first name should be a full name and middle name an initial only, you should select First M.

    Tip
    :  If you want only the last name of the author(s) to appear, select Last in the name box and do not worry about the Initial box (RefWorks will not read it when only Last is selected)

  • Case Setting:

    Under Case Setting, select any casing requirements. Leave None for our format for both the first and other authors.

  • Other Authors:

    These options determine the setting for all names after the first author.

  • Single Author:

    The Precede With and Follow With fields determine what comes before and after the author in a reference that contains only one author. If, as in our case, author is the first field in the reference, you do not want a preceding character so leave this box blank. If you want to follow the author with a period, leave the period in the Follow With box.

    Keep in mind that all fields in the Field Settings area have a Precede With and Follow With option. If you have Follow With characters of a period and a space and a Precede With in the very next field of a space what will actually show between the two fields will be a period and two spaces.

  • Multiple Authors:

    The Precede With and Follow With fields determine what comes before and after the author field in a reference that contains multiple authors.

  • Pub Year:

    If you already set the dividing characters between the author and year in the Author Settings and have a following parenthesis in the Citation Settings you do not need to do anything in Pub Year

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