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How to Cite a Website and Online/Electronic Resources

The pages outlines examples of how to cite websites and media sources using the Harvard Referencing method .

What are electronic sources?

An electronic source is any information source in digital format. The library subscribes to many electronic information resources in order to provide access for students. Electronic sources can include: full-text journals, newspapers, company information, e-books, dictionaries, encyclopaedias, economic data, digital images, industry profiles, market research, etc. 

Should I include extra information when I cite electronic sources?

Referencing electronic or online sources can be confusing—it's difficult to know which information to include or where to find it. As a rule, provide as much information as possible concerning authorship, location and availability.

Electronic or online sources require much of the same information as print sources (author, year of publication, title, publisher). However, in some cases extra information may be required:

  • the page, paragraph or section number—what you cite will depend on the information available as many electronic or online sources don’t have pages.
  • identify the format of the source accessed, for example, E-book, podcast etc.
  • provide an accurate access date for online sources, that is, identify when a source was viewed or downloaded.
  • provide the location of an online source, for example, a database or web address.

In-text citations

Cite the name of the author/ organisation responsible for the site and the date created or last revised (use the most recent date):

(Department of Social Services 2020)

According to the Department of Social Services (2020) ...

List of References

Include information in the following order:

  • author (the person or organisation responsible for the site
  • year (date created or revised)
  • site name (in italics)
  • name of sponsor of site (if available) 
  • accessed day month year (the date you viewed the site)
  • URL or Internet address (between pointed brackets). If possible, ensure that the URL is included without a line-break.

Department of Social Services 2020, Department of social services website , Australian government, accessed 20 February 2020, <https: //www .dss.gov.au/>.

Specific pages or documents within a website

Information should include author/authoring body name(s) and the date created or last revised:

(Li 2004) or:

(World Health Organisation 2013) 

  • author (the person or organisation responsible for the site)
  • year (date created or last updated)
  • page title (in italics)
  • name of sponsor of site (if available)
  • accessed day month year (the day you viewed the site)
  • URL or Internet address (pointed brackets). 

One author:

Li, L 2014,  Chinese scroll painting H533 , Australian Museum, accessed 20 February 2016, <https: // australianmuseum.net.au/chinese-scroll-painting-h533>.

Organisation as author:

World Health Organisation 2013, Financial crisis and global health , The United Nations, accessed 1 August 2013, <http: //www .who.int/topics/financial_crisis/en/>.

Webpages with no author or date

If the author's name is unknown, cite the website/page title and date:

( Land for sale on moon 2007)  

Land for sale on moon   2007, accessed 19 June 2007, <http: // www . moonlandrealestate.com>.

If there is not date on the page, use the abbreviation n.d. (no date):

(ArtsNSW n.d.)

List if References

ArtsNSW n.d.,  New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards , NSW Department of the Arts, Sport and Recreation, accessed 19 June 2007, <http: // www . arts.nsw.gov.au/awards/ LiteraryAwards/litawards.htm>.

Kim, M n.d.,  Chinese New Year pictures and propaganda posters , Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, accessed 12 April 2016, <https: // collection.maas.museum/set/6274>.

Media articles (print)

If there is no author, list the name of the newspaper, the date, year and page number:

( The Independent 2013, p. 36)

If there is an author, cite as you would for a journal article:

(Donaghy 1994, p. 3)

Articles can also be mentioned in the running text:

University rankings were examined in a Sydney Morning Herald report by Williamson (1998, p. 21), where it was evident that ...

  • year of publication
  • article title (between single quotation marks)
  • publication title (in italics with maximum capitalisation)
  • date of article (day, month)
  • page number

Williamson, S 1998, ‘UNSW gains top ranking from quality team’, Sydney Morning Herald , 30 February, p.21. 

Donaghy, B 1994, ‘National meeting set to review tertiary admissions’, Campus News ,  3-9 March, p. 3.

An unattributed newspaper article:

If there is no named author, list the article title first:

  • Article title, between single quotation marks,
  • Publication title (in italics with maximum capitalisation)
  • Date published (date, month, year)
  • Page number (if available)

‘Baby tapir wins hearts at zoo’, The Independent , 9 August 2013, p. 36

Online media articles

A news article from an electronic database:

If the article has a named author:

(Pianin 2001)

  • author (if available)
  • newspaper title (in italics)
  • date of article (day, month, page number—if given—and any additional information available)
  • accessed day month year (the date you accessed the items)
  • from name of database
  • item number (if given).

Pianin, E 2001, 'As coal's fortunes climb, mountains tremble in W.Va; energy policy is transforming lives', The Washington Post,  25 February, p. A03, accessed March 2001 from Electric Library Australasia.

A news article without a named author:

No named author:

( New York Daily Times 1830)  

The article can also be discussed in the body of the paragraph:

An account of the popularity of the baby tapir in The Independent (2013) stated that ...

If there is no named author, list the article title first.

'Amending the Constitution', New York Daily Times , 16 October 1851, p. 2, accessed 15 July 2007 from ProQuest Historical Newspapers database.

'Baby tapir wins hearts at zoo', The Independent , 9 August 2013, Accessed 25 January 2014, <http: // www . independent.ie/world-news/and-finally/baby-tapir-wins-hearts-at-zoo-30495570.html>.

An online news article:

Cite the author name and year:

(Coorey 2007)

Coorey, P 2007, ‘Costello hints at green safety net’, Sydney Morning Herald , 10 May, accessed 14 May 2012, <http: // www . smh.com.au/news/business/costello-hints-at-green-safety-net/2007/05/09/1178390393875.html>.

While a URL for the article should be included, if it is very long (more than two lines) or unfixed (from a search engine), only include the publication URL:

Holmes, L 2017, 'The woman making a living out of pretending to be Kylie Minogue', The Daily Telegraph , 23 April, accessed 22 May 2017, <http: // www . dailytelegraph.com.au>.

Media releases

Cite the author (the person responsible for the release) and date:

Prime Minister Howard (2007) announced plans for further welfare reform...

  • author name or authoring organisation name
  • title of release (in italics)
  • accessed day month year
  • URL (between pointed brackets) 

Office of the Prime Minister 2007, Welfare Payments Reform , media release, accessed 25 July 2007, <http: // www . pm.gov.au/media/Release/2007/Media_Release24432.cfm>.

How to cite broadcast materials and communications

Harvard referencing

  • How to cite different sources
  • How to cite references
  • How to cite online/electronic sources
  • Broadcast and other sources
  • Citing images and tables
  • FAQs and troubleshooting
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How to write a bibliography for websites

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Go back a generation and you’ll find that websites were rarely used as a source for academic essays and papers. Crazy to think about, right? Instead, students relied almost entirely on good old-fashioned paper sources such as textbooks, books and journals.

Of course, now it’s difficult to imagine life without the Internet. And the rise of the smartphone means that we all literally have a world wide web of information at our fingertips, 24/7! This easy-to-access information is super useful for school and life. However, just as with traditional sources, any website you use while researching and writing must be properly referenced. Failure to do this is plagiarism, which, whether accidental or not, can carry strict consequences.

The good news is there’s clear guidance on how you should reference your website sources, depending on which style of citation you’re required to use. APA, MLA and Chicago are three common styles. If you’re unsure which one you should be using, ask your instructor for their preference.

What Information Do I Need?

When researching online, it’s essential that you note the websites you are using as you go—not after when you might forget. It can be very easy to disappear down the Internet rabbit hole and lose track of what information came from where! You could also bookmark important web pages to give yourself an easy online record of your digital sources.

Important note: the Internet contains a wide variety of different types of material that you may need to reference, from articles and blog posts to images and videos. Correctly citing a website will depend on the type of source that you wish to cite. For illustration purposes we’ve used the following article on a website:

  • Author/s name: Janna Anderson and Lee Rainie
  • Article title: The Future of Well-Being in a Tech-Saturated World
  • Website title: Pew Research Center: Internet & Technology
  • Publication date: 17 April 2018
  • Access date: 9 May 2018
  • Website publisher: Pew Research Center
  • URL: http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/04/17/the-future-of-well-being-in-a-tech-saturated-world/

In-Text Citations

In-text citations may also be included in the body of your work to help the reader identify the section that relates to the full citation on your works cited page. These are also known as parenthetical citations, as they’re often enclosed (like this), and MLA refers to them as citations in prose. The format of your in-text citations will vary depending on the citation style you are using.

Let’s take a look at some examples of how to cite a website in MLA, APA and Chicago styles.

How to Cite a Website in APA Style

APA in text citation : (Anderson & Rainie, 2018)

Full citation:

Anderson, J., & Rainie, L. (2018). The future of well-being in a tech-saturated world. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/04/17/the-future-of-well-being-in-a-tech-saturated-world/ .

How to Cite a Website in MLA Style

MLA in-text citation: (Anderson and Rainie)

Anderson, Janna, and Lee Rainie. “The Future of Well-Being in a Tech-Saturated World.” Pew Internet, 17 Apr. 2018, www.pewinternet.org/2018/04/17/ the-future-of-well-being-in-a-tech-saturated-world/.

How to Cite a Book in Chicago Style Format (footnote/bibliography style)

Janna Anderson and Lee Rainie, “The Future of Well-Being in a Tech-Saturated World,” Pew Internet , April 17, 2018, accessed May 9, 2018, http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/04/17/the-future-of-well-being-in-a-tech-saturated-world/.


Anderson, Janna, and Lee Rainie. “The Future of Well-Being in a Tech-Saturated World.” Pew Internet , April 17, 2018. Accessed May 9, 2018. http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/04/17/the-future-of-well-being-in-a-tech-saturated-world/.

Don’t disappear down the Internet rabbit hole! Make a note of all the websites you use during your research and use the handy online tool at Cite This For Me to create quick and easy website citations.

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How to cite a website in a bibliography using MLA

The most basic entry for a website consists of the author name(s), webpage title, website title, *sponsoring institution/publisher, publication date, and DOI or URL.

Author Last Name, First Name. “Webpage Title.” Website Title , *Sponsoring Institution/Publisher, Publication Date, DOI or URL.

Owoseje, Toyin. “Britney Spears Apologizes to Fans for ‘Pretending’ to be OK in her Conservatorship.” CNN , 25 June 2021, cnn.com/2021/06/25/entertainment/britney-spears-conservatorship-instagram-intl-scli/index.html.

*If the sponsoring institution or publisher’s name is the same as the website title, do not include it. MLA prefers to avoid duplicating information in citations.

The first author’s name should be reversed, with a comma after the last name, followed by a period after the first name (or any middle name). The name should not be abbreviated and should be written exactly as it appears on the website. Titles and affiliations associated with the author should generally be omitted. A suffix, such as a roman numeral or Jr./Sr. should appear after the author’s given name, preceded by a comma.

For a page with two or more authors, list them in the order they appear on the website. Only the first author’s name should be reversed, while the others are written in normal order. Separate author names by a comma, and place the word “and” before the last author’s name.

Sanchez, Ray, and Eric Levenson. “Derek Chauvin Sentenced to 22.5 Years in Death of George Floyd.” CNN , 25 June 2021, cnn.com/2021/06/25/us/derek-chauvin-sentencing-george-floyd/index.html.

For pages with three or more authors, reverse the first author’s name as described above and follow it with a comma and the abbreviation “et al.” Do not italicize “et al.” in parenthetical citations or works-cited list entries.

Rebaza, Claudia, et al. “John McAfee Was Not Suicidal, Says Widow of Antivirus Software Magnate.” CNN , 25 June 2021, cnn.com/2021/06/25/tech/john-mcafee-wife-janice-intl/index.html.

If the article was written by a news service or organization, include the name in the author position and remove any introductory articles (e.g.,  A, An, The) from the name.

Associated Press. “Obama Inaugurated as President.” CNN , 21 Jan. 2009, cnn.com/2009/01/21/politics/obama-inaugurated-as-president/index.html.

If no author is available, begin the citation with the webpage title.

“Obama Inaugurated as President.” CNN , 21 Jan. 2009, cnn.com/2009/01/21/politics/obama-inaugurated-as-president/index.html.

The webpage title should be placed within quotation marks. Place a period after the webpage title within the quotation marks. The webpage title is followed by the name of the larger website container in italics, and it’s usually followed by a comma and any additional information such as version, number, publisher, publication date, or URL. The punctuation before the version element varies depending on whether the webpage is part of a larger work or “container.” When it is part of a larger work, use a comma followed by the version. When it is a work that stands alone, use a period followed by the version.

Smith, John. “Obama Inaugurated as President.” CNN , Version 12.1.1., 21 Jan. 2009, cnn.com/2009/01/21/politics/obama-inaugurated-as-president/index.html.

Include the sponsoring institution or publisher with a comma after the website title (or version number, if available). The sponsoring institution/publisher can usually be found at the bottom of the website in the footer. You may omit the publisher’s name when there is no publisher or when the publisher name isn’t required (for example, when the publisher title matches the website title or the website doesn’t list the publisher responsible for producing the work).

Smith, John. “Obama Inaugurated as President.” CNN , 21 Jan. 2009, cnn.com/2009/01/21/politics/obama-inaugurated-as-president/index.html.

Next, state the publication date of the webpage.  In works-cited list entries, use only the day-month-year style. Month names should be abbreviated, except for May, June, and July, and followed by a period. In some cases, a specific date might not be available, and the date published may only be specific to a month or even year. Provide whatever date information is available. When using seasons in the date, lowercase the season (spring 2021 not Spring 2021). If there is no date available, you may omit the publication date element from your citation. However, you may wish to include an access date in the supplemental element slot after the URL.

Smith, John. “Obama Inaugurated as President.” CNN , cnn.com/2009/01/21/politics/obama-inaugurated-as-president/index.html.

Smith, John. “Obama Inaugurated as President.” CNN , cnn.com/2009/01/21/politics/obama-inaugurated-as-president/index.html. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

According to MLA’s 9th edition, updated in 2021, you may usually leave out http:// or https:// from URLs unless you want to hyperlink them or unless instructed otherwise. When in doubt, ask your instructor. If a DOI is available, use that instead of the URL. For DOIs, use http:// or https:// before the DOI: https://doi.org/xx.xxxx/xxx.xxxx.xxxx. Use a period after the DOI and the URL.

Smith, John. “Obama Inaugurated as President.” CNN , 21 Jan. 2009, https://doi.org/12.3456/789.1011.1213.

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For an online news source with more than two authors (3+), use “ et al ” after the first author to indicate “ and others ” in your works cited entry. With this format, you do not have to write all the authors’ names since you are indicating the same using “et al.”

Last Name, First Name1, et al. “Title of the article.” Title of the newspaper , Date of publication, URL.

Kamelion, North, et al. “How do Zebras stay awake in the forest amidst a scavenger hunt?” Taj Road Journal , 9 Aug. 2020, www.tajroadjournal.com/posts/253839.

If you have the same author as the first author in more than one entry, then distinguish these entries by listing two authors in the entries and using “et al” for the other authors.

If there is no author given for an online news source, then the in-text citation should include the first main word or words of the article title within the quotation marks. For example:

In a works-cited entry, you will include the article title, newspaper name, publication date, and URL. See below for the format and example.

“Article Title.” Newspaper , Date, URL.

“High Winds Blow Michigan Anglers, Ice Shanty about a Mile across Saginaw Bay.” Detroit Free Press , 2022 March 7, https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2022/03/07/saginaw-bay-ice-shanty-winds/9411709002/.

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7 Tips for Citing Links

Our recommendations for working with URLs

how to write bibliography for links

Image: Canva.com

Gone are the days of citing only printed materials when writing a research paper or thesis. Depending on your subject area, you might not be using any physical sources at all and may instead rely entirely on digital versions of books, journal articles, and reports in PDF format. However, the citation of webpages that don’t fall into any of the traditional categories of academic sources are a bit of a special case. When you starting searching for sources in a search engine, you’ll likely find information on academic websites but also on company pages, news portals, blogs, social media sites , and many other types of webpages. Before deciding whether or not to use a website in your own work, make sure to evaluate its quality carefully and be especially wary of fake news .

When you do find a website that looks like it would be a good source and you want to cite it, what’s the best way to save a copy of it long-term and how can you best format long links in your bibliography? Find out below.

Saving online sources

You’ll usually begin your search for sources in your browser, either in a research database (the best option) or in a search engine if you’re doing more of an exploratory search at the beginning of a project. If you have a large screen, you can create a new tab for each new source you find and still maintain an overview… at least at the beginning. At some point you’ll likely have too many tabs, and you’ll start to worry that you’ll accidentally close them all by accident. Of course, you can always use the browser history to restore them, but there are alternatives. You can find some of our recommendations for helpful software tools for saving and evaluating webpages in this previous blog post .

One of these tools is the Citavi Picker . In addition to the URL link, the Picker also saves additional information, such as the title of the webpage, the last modification date, and the author of the content on the webpage. For most citation styles this is the minimum amount of information you need to cite a webpage; the link by itself is not enough. The quality of the information that the Picker is able to import depends on the quality of the metadata provided by the website. Double-check the page to see if there is additional information you might need for your citations and then add it to Citavi as well. Another advantage of using the Picker is that you don’t need to keep track of when you visited a webpage. The Picker will automatically add the access date when importing the page. When you later cite the source, this date will automatically appear in your bibliography if your citation style requires it, for example with the text “Last accessed on”. To ensure that you will be able to access the content of the webpage in the future, save a copy of it as a PDF . Additional tips for backing up your webpages and ensuring that you can cite them long-term can be found in this previous blog post .

Links in your bibliography and footnotes

When citing webpages in your paper (for example, with the Citavi Word Add-In ), you almost always will need to specify the URL. But sometimes links can take up a lot of space, especially in the footnotes. Is there are anything you can do to avoid this? This German-language example on Twitter is an example of a radical solution: the author omits links with the recommendation that the reader instead search for the source using a search engine. We would never go that far! You want to help your readers find the sources you cited as easily as possible so that they can verify your claims.

So, if you shouldn’t omit the link, which alternatives do you have to save space, make your links easy to read, and also ensure that the corresponding webpages are easy to access? We’re glad you asked! One caveat first: before reading our 7 tips below, make sure to check your citation style guidelines to see what recommendations are given for citing URLs both in your text and in the bibliography, since some styles will specify URL formatting rules in great detail. For other styles that have less information, read on.

  • Only specify the URL in the bibliography If you’re using an in-text citation style, you’ll be following this tip by default, since you’ll usually only need to provide author last names and the year or a reference number in your citations. The complete information for each source appears in the bibliography. If you’re working with one of the few footnote styles that requires only a shortened citation in the footnotes, you’ll be in the same boat. The link then only needs to appear in the bibliography. It’s a different matter if you’re working with a traditional footnote style in which all the source information should appear in the footnotes. In this case, an especially long link can take up a great deal of space at the end of the page that you would have wanted for the body of your text. But even if your links are only saved in the bibliography you’ll still have to face the question of how best to format them. For that, tips 4-7 below can help.
  • Check your URLs If you copy links directly from your browser, you should double-check whether you can still access the website when you copy it to another browser tab or window. On some webpages content is dynamically generated and the URL in the address bar won’t link directly to the page you were looking at. In this case, check the page to see if you can find a direct link specified somewhere on it (usually near the bottom of the page). Make sure to copy and save this link. If you copied links into your Citavi project automatically using the Citavi Picker, you can double-check if the links work by using the link checker add-on . The add-on also updates the last access date, so it’s great to use just before finalizing your paper.
  • Make use of permalinks where available The best links to web content are permalinks . They ensure that web content is available long term. For example, the DOI number associated with a journal article is a type of permalink. Databases and online encyclopedias usually also offer permalinks. For example, Wikipedia lets you copy a permalink to the current version of the article by clicking “permanent link” in the navigation column on the left side of the article.
  • Shorten URLs Links should be as compact as possible but should obviously still work. If you can’t find a permalink for the page, and if you copied the URL from your browser or used the Picker to automatically import it, make sure to shorten the URL as much as you can. For example, you can delete an appended session ID, which appears as a series of numbers and letters at the end of your link. Then, always check in a new browser tab if you’re still able to access the page with the shortened link.
  • Use direct links Don’t copy a link from the results page of a Google or database search. These links are often long and sometimes won’t work. Instead go directly to the page and then copy the link. At times you may need to locate a subpage using the website site map or navigation.
  • Don’t use a URL shortener in most cases If tips 2-5 don’t help and your URL still extends over multiple lines, you might consider using a service that lets you shorten your links, such as cc . The advantage of a URL shortener is that – depending on the service used – you can individually name the link and see how many times it was clicked. However, there are also drawbacks to consider. The reader can no longer evaluate the quality, source, and relevance of the webpage by looking at the link but first has to click the link to view the page. In addition, you’re also dependant on the availability of the link shortener. If the service no longer exists in five or ten years, your future readers will no longer be able to find the source you cited. For this reason we recommend only using a URL shortener as an addition to the original URL.
  • Break up long URLs Even if you’ve shortened a URL as much as you can, you still might get undesired spacing or formatting if Word automatically breaks it up in a strange way. How can you avoid that so that you don’t end up with lots of empty space in your bibliography entries? If you’re working with Citavi, the URLs will automatically contain breaks that make sense. The rules for how to break apart the links can even be altered by making a change to the “Online address” component in the citation style you’re using. If you’re not working with Citavi or if the result isn’t what you want and you don’t want to change the style, you can also make manual changes when performing the final checks for your paper. If using Citavi, make sure to first convert your Citavi fields to text . The conversion to text also converts your URLs to clickable links. After the conversion, place the cursor where you want the break to be and press “Shift + Enter”. If you instead want to get rid of a hyphen in the URL that was inserted by the automatic hyphenation feature in word, you can do by using a non-breaking hyphen. To do so, press and hold Ctrl + Shift while typing the hyphen.

We hope that our 7 tips will help ensure that the links in your bibliography and footnotes look and function exactly as you want.

What are your tips for using links in your research paper? Do you disagree with any of our recommendations or did we leave anything out? Continue the discussion with us and other blog readers under the Facebook posting for this blog post or write to us at [email protected] .

Created by: Jana Behrendt – Published on: 1/12/2021

About Jana Behrendt

how to write bibliography for links

Jana Behrendt, a librarian by training, is deeply interested in everything related to personal information management. However, she does not read as much as you would expect from a librarian. She loves hiking in the Swiss Alps – as long as she doesn’t have to look down.

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How To Write a Bibliography (Three Styles, Plus Examples)

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Writing a research paper involves a lot of work. Students need to consult a variety of sources to gather reliable information and ensure their points are well supported. Research papers include a bibliography, which can be a little tricky for students. Learn how to write a bibliography in multiple styles and find basic examples below.

IMPORTANT: Each style guide has its own very specific rules, and they often conflict with one another. Additionally, each type of reference material has many possible formats, depending on a variety of factors. The overviews shown here are meant to guide students in writing basic bibliographies, but this information is by no means complete. Students should always refer directly to the preferred style guide to ensure they’re using the most up-to-date formats and styles.

What is a bibliography?

When you’re researching a paper, you’ll likely consult a wide variety of sources. You may quote some of these directly in your work, summarize some of the points they make, or simply use them to further the knowledge you need to write your paper. Since these ideas are not your own, it’s vital to give credit to the authors who originally wrote them. This list of sources, organized alphabetically, is called a bibliography.

A bibliography should include all the materials you consulted in your research, even if you don’t quote directly from them in your paper. These resources could include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Books and e-books
  • Periodicals like magazines or newspapers
  • Online articles or websites
  • Primary source documents like letters or official records

Bibliography vs. References

These two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but they actually have different meanings. As noted above, a bibliography includes all the materials you used while researching your paper, whether or not you quote from them or refer to them directly in your writing.

A list of references only includes the materials you cite throughout your work. You might use direct quotes or summarize the information for the reader. Either way, you must ensure you give credit to the original author or document. This section can be titled “List of Works Cited” or simply “References.”

Your teacher may specify whether you should include a bibliography or a reference list. If they don’t, consider choosing a bibliography, to show all the works you used in researching your paper. This can help the reader see that your points are well supported, and allow them to do further reading on their own if they’re interested.

Bibliography vs. Citations

Citations refer to direct quotations from a text, woven into your own writing. There are a variety of ways to write citations, including footnotes and endnotes. These are generally shorter than the entries in a reference list or bibliography. Learn more about writing citations here.

What does a bibliography entry include?

Depending on the reference material, bibliography entries include a variety of information intended to help a reader locate the material if they want to refer to it themselves. These entries are listed in alphabetical order, and may include:

  • Author/s or creator/s
  • Publication date
  • Volume and issue numbers
  • Publisher and publication city
  • Website URL

These entries don’t generally need to include specific page numbers or locations within the work (except for print magazine or journal articles). That type of information is usually only needed in a footnote or endnote citation.

What are the different bibliography styles?

In most cases, writers use one of three major style guides: APA (American Psychological Association), MLA (Modern Language Association), or The Chicago Manual of Style . There are many others as well, but these three are the most common choices for K–12 students.

Many teachers will state their preference for one style guide over another. If they don’t, you can choose your own preferred style. However, you should also use that guide for your entire paper, following their recommendations for punctuation, grammar, and more. This will ensure you are consistent throughout.

Below, you’ll learn how to write a simple bibliography using each of the three major style guides. We’ve included details for books and e-books, periodicals, and electronic sources like websites and videos. If the reference material type you need to include isn’t shown here, refer directly to the style guide you’re using.

APA Style Bibliography and Examples

APA style example of a References bibliography page

Source: Verywell Mind

Technically, APA style calls for a list of references instead of a bibliography. If your teacher requires you to use the APA style guide , you can limit your reference list only to items you cite throughout your work.

How To Write a Bibliography (References) Using APA Style

Here are some general notes on writing an APA reference list:

  • Title your bibliography section “References” and center the title on the top line of the page.
  • Do not center your references; they should be left-aligned. For longer items, subsequent lines should use a hanging indent of 1/2 inch.
  • Include all types of resources in the same list.
  • Alphabetize your list by author or creator, last name first.
  • Do not spell out the author/creator’s first or middle name; only use their initials.
  • If there are multiple authors/creators, use an ampersand (&) before the final author/creator.
  • Place the date in parentheses.
  • Capitalize only the first word of the title and subtitle, unless the word would otherwise be capitalized (proper names, etc.).
  • Italicize the titles of books, periodicals, or videos.
  • For websites, include the full site information, including the http:// or https:// at the beginning.

Books and E-Books APA Bibliography Examples

For books, APA reference list entries use this format (only include the publisher’s website for e-books).

Last Name, First Initial. Middle Initial. (Publication date). Title with only first word capitalized . Publisher. Publisher’s website

  • Wynn, S. (2020). City of London at war 1939–45 . Pen & Sword Military. https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/City-of-London-at-War-193945-Paperback/p/17299

Periodical APA Bibliography Examples

For journal or magazine articles, use this format. If you viewed the article online, include the URL at the end of the citation.

Last Name, First Initial. Middle Initial. (Publication date). Title of article. Magazine or Journal Title (Volume number) Issue number, page numbers. URL

  • Bell, A. (2009). Landscapes of fear: Wartime London, 1939–1945. Journal of British Studies (48) 1, 153–175. https://www.jstor.org/stable/25482966

Here’s the format for newspapers. For print editions, include the page number/s. For online articles, include the full URL.

Last Name, First Initial. Middle Initial. (Year, Month Date) Title of article. Newspaper title. Page number/s. URL

  • Blakemore, E. (2022, November 12) Researchers track down two copies of fossil destroyed by the Nazis.  The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2022/11/12/ichthyosaur-fossil-images-discovered/

Electronic APA Bibliography Examples

For articles with a specific author on a website, use this format.

Last Name, First Initial. Middle Initial. (Year, Month Date). Title . Site name. URL

  • Wukovits, J. (2023, January 30). A World War II survivor recalls the London Blitz . British Heritage . https://britishheritage.com/history/world-war-ii-survivor-london-blitz

When an online article doesn’t include a specific author or date, list it like this:

Title . (Year, Month Date). Site name. Retrieved Month Date, Year, from URL

  • Growing up in the Second World War . (n.d.). Imperial War Museums. Retrieved May 12, 2023, from https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/growing-up-in-the-second-world-war

When you need to list a YouTube video, use the name of the account that uploaded the video, and format it like this:

Name of Account. (Upload year, month day). Title [Video]. YouTube. URL

  • War Stories. (2023, January 15). How did London survive the Blitz during WW2? | Cities at war: London | War stories [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/uwY6JlCvbxc

For more information on writing APA bibliographies, see the APA Style Guide website.

APA Bibliography (Reference List) Example Pages

An APA-style Reference List bibliography example page

Source: Simply Psychology

More APA example pages:

  • Western Australia Library Services APA References Example Page
  • Ancilla College APA References Page Example
  • Scribbr APA References Page Example

MLA Style Bibliography Examples

Diagram of MLA style bibliography entries

Source: PressBooks

MLA style calls for a Works Cited section, which includes all materials quoted or referred to in your paper. You may also include a Works Consulted section, including other reference sources you reviewed but didn’t directly cite. Together, these constitute a bibliography. If your teacher requests an MLA Style Guide bibliography, ask if you should include Works Consulted as well as Works Cited.

How To Write a Bibliography (Works Cited and Works Consulted) in MLA Style

For both MLA Works Cited and Works Consulted sections, use these general guidelines:

  • Start your Works Cited list on a new page. If you include a Works Consulted list, start that on its own new page after the Works Cited section.
  • Center the title (Works Cited or Works Consulted) in the middle of the line at the top of the page.
  • Align the start of each source to the left margin, and use a hanging indent (1/2 inch) for the following lines of each source.
  • Alphabetize your sources using the first word of the citation, usually the author’s last name.
  • Include the author’s full name as listed, last name first.
  • Capitalize titles using the standard MLA format.
  • Leave off the http:// or https:// at the beginning of a URL.

Books and E-Books MLA Bibliography Examples

For books, MLA reference list entries use this format. Add the URL at the end for e-books.

Last Name, First Name Middle Name. Title . Publisher, Date. URL

  • Wynn, Stephen. City of London at War 1939–45 . Pen & Sword Military, 2020. www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/City-of-London-at-War-193945-Paperback/p/17299

Periodical MLA Bibliography Examples

Here’s the style format for magazines, journals, and newspapers. For online articles, add the URL at the end of the listing.

For magazines and journals:

Last Name, First Name. “Title: Subtitle.” Name of Journal , volume number, issue number, Date of Publication, First Page Number–Last Page Number.

  • Bell, Amy. “Landscapes of Fear: Wartime London, 1939–1945.” Journal of British Studies , vol. 48, no. 1, pp. 153–175. www.jstor.org/stable/25482966

When citing newspapers, include the page number/s for print editions or the URL for online articles.

Last Name, First Name. “Title of article.” Newspaper title. Page number/s. Year, month day. Page number or URL

  • Blakemore, Erin. “Researchers Track Down Two Copies of Fossil Destroyed by the Nazis.” The Washington Post. 2022, Nov. 12. www.washingtonpost.com/science/2022/11/12/ichthyosaur-fossil-images-discovered/

Electronic MLA Bibliography Examples

Last Name, First Name. Year. “Title.” Month Day, Year published. URL

  • Wukovits, John. 2023. “A World War II Survivor Recalls the London Blitz.” January 30,   2023. https://britishheritage.com/history/world-war-ii-survivor-london-blitz

Website. n.d. “Title.” Accessed Day Month Year. URL.

  • Imperial War Museum. n.d. “Growing Up in the Second World War.” Accessed May 9, 2023. https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/growing-up-in-the-second-world-war.

Here’s how to list YouTube and other online videos.

Creator, if available. “Title of Video.” Website. Uploaded by Username, Day Month Year. URL.

  • “How did London survive the Blitz during WW2? | Cities at war: London | War stories.” YouTube . Uploaded by War Stories, 15 Jan. 2023. youtu.be/uwY6JlCvbxc.

For more information on writing MLA style bibliographies, see the MLA Style website.

MLA Bibliography (Works Cited) Example Pages

A bibliography example page with notes, written in MLA style

Source: The Visual Communication Guy

More MLA example pages:

  • Writing Commons Sample Works Cited Page
  • Scribbr MLA Works Cited Sample Page
  • Montana State University MLA Works Cited Page

Chicago Manual of Style Bibliography Examples

The Chicago Manual of Style (sometimes called “Turabian”) actually has two options for citing reference material : Notes and Bibliography and Author-Date. Regardless of which you use, you’ll need a complete detailed list of reference items at the end of your paper. The examples below demonstrate how to write that list.

How To Write a Bibliography Using The Chicago Manual of Style

A diagram of a book bibliography entry for the Chicago Manual of Style

Source: South Texas College

Here are some general notes on writing a Chicago -style bibliography:

  • You may title it “Bibliography” or “References.” Center this title at the top of the page and add two blank lines before the first entry.
  • Left-align each entry, with a hanging half-inch indent for subsequent lines of each entry.
  • Single-space each entry, with a blank line between entries.
  • Include the “http://” or “https://” at the beginning of URLs.

Books and E-Books Chicago Manual of Style Bibliography Examples

For books, Chicago -style reference list entries use this format. (For print books, leave off the information about how the book was accessed.)

Last Name, First Name Middle Name. Title . City of Publication: Publisher, Date. How e-book was accessed.

  • Wynn, Stephen. City of London at War 1939–45 . Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Military, 2020. Kindle edition.

Periodical Chicago Manual of Style Bibliography Examples

For journal and magazine articles, use this format.

Last Name, First Name. Year of Publication. “Title: Subtitle.” Name of Journal , Volume Number, issue number, First Page Number–Last Page Number. URL.

  • Bell, Amy. 2009. “Landscapes of Fear: Wartime London, 1939–1945.” Journal of British Studies, 48 no. 1, 153–175. https://www.jstor.org/stable/25482966.

When citing newspapers, include the URL for online articles.

Last Name, First Name. Year of Publication. “Title: Subtitle.” Name of Newspaper , Month day, year. URL.

  • Blakemore, Erin. 2022. “Researchers Track Down Two Copies of Fossil Destroyed by the Nazis.” The Washington Post , November 12, 2022. https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2022/11/12/ichthyosaur-fossil-images-discovered/.

Electronic Chicago Manual of Style Bibliography Examples

Last Name, First Name Middle Name. “Title.” Site Name . Year, Month Day. URL.

  • Wukovits, John. “A World War II Survivor Recalls the London Blitz.” British Heritage. 2023, Jan. 30. britishheritage.com/history/world-war-ii-survivor-london-blitz.

“Title.” Site Name . URL. Accessed Day Month Year.

  • “Growing Up in the Second World War.” Imperial War Museums . www.iwm.org.uk/history/growing-up-in-the-second-world-war. Accessed May 9, 2023.

Creator or Username. “Title of Video.” Website video, length. Month Day, Year. URL.

  • War Stories. “How Did London Survive the Blitz During WW2? | Cities at War: London | War Stories.” YouTube video, 51:25. January 15, 2023. https://youtu.be/uwY6JlCvbxc.

For more information on writing Chicago -style bibliographies, see the Chicago Manual of Style website.

Chicago Manual of Style Bibliography Example Pages

A page showing an example of a bibliography using the Chicago Manual of Style

Source: Chicago Manual of Style

More Chicago example pages:

  • Scribbr Chicago Style Bibliography Example
  • Purdue Online Writing Lab CMOS Bibliography Page
  • Bibcitation Sample Chicago Bibliography

Now that you know how to write a bibliography, take a look at the Best Websites for Teaching & Learning Writing .

Plus, get all the latest teaching tips and ideas when you sign up for our free newsletters .

Learn how to write a bibliography using MLA, ALA, and Chicago Manual of Style, plus see examples for each style and more.

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  • How to Cite a Website | MLA, APA & Chicago Examples

How to Cite a Website | MLA, APA & Chicago Examples

Published on March 5, 2021 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on August 23, 2022.

To cite a page from a website, you need a short in-text citation and a corresponding reference stating the author’s name, the date of publication, the title of the page, the website name, and the URL.

This information is presented differently in different citation styles. APA , MLA , and Chicago are the most commonly used styles.

Use the interactive example generator below to explore APA and MLA website citations.

Note that the format is slightly different for citing YouTube and other online video platforms, or for citing an image .

Table of contents

Citing a website in mla style, citing a website in apa style, citing a website in chicago style, frequently asked questions about citations.

An MLA Works Cited entry for a webpage lists the author’s name , the title of the page (in quotation marks), the name of the site (in italics), the date of publication, and the URL.

The in-text citation usually just lists the author’s name. For a long page, you may specify a (shortened) section heading to locate the specific passage. Don’t use paragraph numbers unless they’re specifically numbered on the page.

The same format is used for blog posts and online articles from newspapers and magazines.

You can also use our free MLA Citation Generator to generate your website citations.

Generate accurate MLA citations with Scribbr

Citing a whole website.

When you cite an entire website rather than a specific page, include the author if one can be identified for the whole site (e.g. for a single-authored blog). Otherwise, just start with the site name.

List the copyright date displayed on the site; if there isn’t one, provide an access date after the URL.

Webpages with no author or date

When no author is listed, cite the organization as author only if it differs from the website name.

If the organization name is also the website name, start the Works Cited entry with the title instead, and use a shortened version of the title in the in-text citation.

When no publication date is listed, leave it out and include an access date at the end instead.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

An APA reference for a webpage lists the author’s last name and initials, the full date of publication, the title of the page (in italics), the website name (in plain text), and the URL.

The in-text citation lists the author’s last name and the year. If it’s a long page, you may include a locator to identify the quote or paraphrase (e.g. a paragraph number and/or section title).

Note that a general reference to an entire website doesn’t require a citation in APA Style; just include the URL in parentheses after you mention the site.

You can also use our free APA Citation Generator to create your webpage citations. Search for a URL to retrieve the details.

Generate accurate APA citations with Scribbr

Blog posts and online articles.

Blog posts follow a slightly different format: the title of the post is not italicized, and the name of the blog is.

The same format is used for online newspaper and magazine articles—but not for articles from news sites like Reuters and BBC News (see the previous example).

When a page has no author specified, list the name of the organization that created it instead (and omit it later if it’s the same as the website name).

When it doesn’t list a date of publication, use “n.d.” in place of the date. You can also include an access date if the page seems likely to change over time.

In Chicago notes and bibliography style, footnotes are used to cite sources. They refer to a bibliography at the end that lists all your sources in full.

A Chicago bibliography entry for a website lists the author’s name, the page title (in quotation marks), the website name, the publication date, and the URL.

Chicago also has an alternative author-date citation style . Examples of website citations in this style can be found here .

For blog posts and online articles from newspapers, the name of the publication is italicized. For a blog post, you should also add the word “blog” in parentheses, unless it’s already part of the blog’s name.

When a web source doesn’t list an author , you can usually begin your bibliography entry and short note with the name of the organization responsible. Don’t repeat it later if it’s also the name of the website. A full note should begin with the title instead.

When no publication or revision date is shown, include an access date instead in your bibliography entry.

The main elements included in website citations across APA , MLA , and Chicago style are the author, the date of publication, the page title, the website name, and the URL. The information is presented differently in each style.

In APA , MLA , and Chicago style citations for sources that don’t list a specific author (e.g. many websites ), you can usually list the organization responsible for the source as the author.

If the organization is the same as the website or publisher, you shouldn’t repeat it twice in your reference:

  • In APA and Chicago, omit the website or publisher name later in the reference.
  • In MLA, omit the author element at the start of the reference, and cite the source title instead.

If there’s no appropriate organization to list as author, you will usually have to begin the citation and reference entry with the title of the source instead.

When you want to cite a specific passage in a source without page numbers (e.g. an e-book or website ), all the main citation styles recommend using an alternate locator in your in-text citation . You might use a heading or chapter number, e.g. (Smith, 2016, ch. 1)

In APA Style , you can count the paragraph numbers in a text to identify a location by paragraph number. MLA and Chicago recommend that you only use paragraph numbers if they’re explicitly marked in the text.

For audiovisual sources (e.g. videos ), all styles recommend using a timestamp to show a specific point in the video when relevant.

Check if your university or course guidelines specify which citation style to use. If the choice is left up to you, consider which style is most commonly used in your field.

  • APA Style is the most popular citation style, widely used in the social and behavioral sciences.
  • MLA style is the second most popular, used mainly in the humanities.
  • Chicago notes and bibliography style is also popular in the humanities, especially history.
  • Chicago author-date style tends to be used in the sciences.

Other more specialized styles exist for certain fields, such as Bluebook and OSCOLA for law.

The most important thing is to choose one style and use it consistently throughout your text.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Caulfield, J. (2022, August 23). How to Cite a Website | MLA, APA & Chicago Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved December 1, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/citing-sources/cite-a-website/

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how to write bibliography for links

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How to Write a Bibliography

Last Updated: September 14, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Diane Stubbs . Diane Stubbs is a Secondary English Teacher with over 22 years of experience teaching all high school grade levels and AP courses. She specializes in secondary education, classroom management, and educational technology. Diane earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Delaware and a Master of Education from Wesley College. There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 636,517 times.

When you write a paper or a book, it's important to include a bibliography. A bibliography tells your reader what sources you've used. It lists all the books, articles, and other references you cited in or used to inform your work. Bibliographies are typically formatted according to one of three styles: American Psychological Association (APA) for scientific papers, Modern Language Association (MLA) for humanities papers, and Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) for the social sciences. Make sure you always check with your superior - whether a professor or boss - about which style they prefer.

Sample Bibliographies

how to write bibliography for links

Writing an APA Bibliography

Step 1 Create a reference list.

  • For example, if the author's name for a source is "John Adams Smith," you would list him as "Smith, J.A.," before listing the title of his piece.

Step 3 Use ellipses if there are more than seven authors.

  • For example, if one source has twelve authors, and the seventh author is "Smith, J.A." and the twelfth is "Timothy, S.J.," you would list the first six authors, then write "Smith, J.A. ...Timothy, S.J."

Step 4 List sources by the same author is chronological order.

  • For example, if you have a World Health Organization Report without an author as one of your sources, you would write, "World Health Organization, "Report on Development Strategies in Developing Nations," July 1996."

Step 6 Indent each line after the first line of each source.

  • For example, an article citation might look like this: Jensen, O. E. (2012). "African Elephants." Savannah Quarterly , 2(1), 88.
  • If the periodical the article comes from always begins with page number 1 (these types of periodicals are called “paginated by issue” periodicals, you should include the full page range of the article.
  • If the article was retrieved online, end the citation with the words "Retrieved from" followed by the web address.

Step 8 Cite books.

  • Example: Worden, B. L. (1999). Echoing Eden. New York, New York: One Two Press.
  • If the title is more than one word long and doesn’t contain any proper nouns, only the first word should be capitalized. Only the first letter of any subtitle should be capitalized as well.

Step 9 [9]...

  • For example, a cited website might look like this: Quarry, R. R. (May 23, 2010). Wild Skies. Retrieved from http://wildskies.com.
  • If no author is available, just start with the title. If no date is available, write "n.d."

Step 10 Check a reliable source for other citation rules.

Writing a MLA Bibliography

Step 1 Create a works cited page.

  • You shouldn’t use an author’s title or degrees when listing their names in your bibliography. This is true even if they are listed that way on the source.

Step 6 Cite books.

  • For example, a book citation might look like this: Butler, Olivia. Parable of the Flower. Sacramento: Seed Press, 1996.

Step 7 Cite articles.

  • For example, an article published in a scholarly journal might look like this: Green, Marsha. "Life in Costa Rica." Science Magazine vol. 1, no. 4, Mar 2013: 1-2.
  • If you’re citing an article in a newspaper, you only need the name of the newspaper, followed by the date it was published, and the page number. A citation for that might look like this: Smith, Jennifer. “Tiny Tim Wins Award.” New York Times, 24 Dec 2017, p. A7.

Step 8 Cite websites.

  • For example, a website citation might look like this: Jong, June. "How to Write an Essay." Writing Portal. 2 Aug. 2012. University of California. 23 Feb. 2013. <http://writingportal.com>
  • Some websites, particularly academic ones, will have what’s called a DOI (digital object identifier). Write “doi:” in front of this number in place of the website’s url if a DOI is available.

Step 9 Use reliable sources to look for the citations rules for other types of sources.

Writing a CMS Bibliography

Step 1 Create a bibliography page.

  • Example: Skylar Marsh. "Walking on Water." Earth Magazine 4(2001): 23.

Step 6 Cite books.

  • For example, a book entry might look like this: Walter White. Space and Time . New York: London Press, 1982

Step 7 Cite websites.

  • Example: University of California. "History of University of California." Last modified April 3, 2013. http://universityofcalifornia.com.
  • Unless there is a publication date for the website you’re citing, you don’t need to include an access date. If you do have an access date, it goes at the end of the citation.

Expert Q&A

Diane Stubbs

Video . By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube.

  • Ask your teacher or professor which style they prefer you to use in your paper. Thanks Helpful 6 Not Helpful 2
  • Be sure to include each and every source you reference in your work. Thanks Helpful 7 Not Helpful 5
  • When writing a bibliography or a reference page, it really comes down to looking at an example and applying it to your own information. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

how to write bibliography for links

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Write an APA Style References Page

  • ↑ https://libguides.reading.ac.uk/citing-references/compilingbibliography
  • ↑ https://morningside.libguides.com/APA7/references
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/03/
  • ↑ https://libraryguides.vu.edu.au/harvard/sample-reference-list
  • ↑ Cite articles
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/08/
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/10/
  • ↑ https://www.scribbr.com/mla/works-cited/
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/05/
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_works_cited_page_basic_format.html
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/06/
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/07/
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/717/02/
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/717/03/
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/717/05/

About This Article

Diane Stubbs

To create an APA bibliography, title a separate page at the end of your paper "References." Then, use the authors' last names to organize your list alphabetically, for example by writing the author John Adam Smith as "Smith, J. A." If a source has more than 7 authors, list the first 7 before adding an ellipses. To cite an article, include the author's name, year of publication, article title, publication title, and page numbers. When citing a book, begin with the author's name, then the date of publication, title in Italics, location of the publisher, and publisher's name. For tips on how to write an MLA or CMS bibliography, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to write a bibliography

How to write a bibiliography.

A bibliography is not just “works cited.” It is  all  the relevant material you drew upon to write the paper the reader holds.

Do I need a bibliography?

If you read any articles or books in preparing your paper, you need a bibliography or footnotes.

  • If you cite the arguments of “critics” and “supporters,” even if you don’t name them or quote them directly, you are likely referring to information you read in books or articles as opposed to information you’ve gathered firsthand, like a news reporter, and so you need a bibliography.
  • If you quote sources and put some of the reference information in the text, you still need a bibliography, so that readers can track down the source material for themselves.
  • If you use footnotes to identify the source of your material or the authors of every quote, you DO NOT need a bibliography, UNLESS there are materials to which you do not refer directly (or if you refer to additional sections of the materials you already referenced) that also helped you reach your conclusions. In any event, your footnotes need to follow the formatting guidelines below.

These guidelines follow those of the  American Psychological Association and may be slightly different than what you’re used to, but we will stick with them for the sake of consistency.

Notice the use of punctuation. Publication titles may be either  italicized  or underlined, but not both.

Books are the bibliography format with which you’re probably most familiar. Books follow this pattern:

Author Last Name, Author First Name. (Publication Year)  Title . Publisher’s City: Publisher. Page numbers.

Alexander, Carol. (2001)  Market Models: A Guide to Financial Data Analysis.  New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 200-220.


Periodicals remove the publisher city and name and add the title of the article and the volume or issue number of the periodical. Notice article titles are put in quotation marks and only the publication title is italicized or underlined.

Author Last Name, Author First Name. (Publication Date—could be more than a year) “Article Title.” Publication   Title, Vol. # . (Issue #), Page numbers.

Salman, William A. (July-August 1997) “How to Write a Great Business Plan.”  Harvard Business Review  74. pp. 98-108.

Web versions of printed material

Because web sources are time-sensitive, meaning that web content can change day by day, it is important to include the day of retrieval and the URL from which you quoted the material. You include this in a retrieval statement.

The format for online versions of print publications should basically follow the same format as above, meaning if you’re referencing an online book, you should follow the book format with the addition of the retrieval statement. If you’re referencing an online periodical, you should follow the periodical format with the addition of the retrieval statement.

Note that you should not break the Internet address of the link, even if it requires its own line. Very long URLs, such as those that occur when using an online database, can be shortened by removing the retrieval code. (The retrieval code usually consists of a long string of unintelligible letters and numbers following the end point “htm” or “html.” Remove everything that occurs after that point to shorten.)

Author. (Date of Internet Publication—could be more than a year) “Document Title.”  Title of Publication . Retrieved on: Date from Full Web Address, starting with http://

Grant, Linda. (January 13, 1997) “Can Fisher Focus Kodak?”  Fortune . Retrieved on August 22, 2020 from (insert full web address here)

The above is just one example of citing online sources. There are more extensive bibliographic guidelines at www.bedfordstmartins.com/online/cite6.html .

How to cite sources in the text

In-text citations alert readers to cited material and tell them exactly where to go and look. These citations work in conjunction with a bibliography.

  • Usually, an in-text citation is a combination of a name (usually the author’s) and a number (either a year, a page number, or both).
  • For Internet sources, use the original publication date, not your retrieval date.
  • Internet sources also do not have page numbers, so use your discretion in the format that will direct the reader closest to the relevant section. You can number the paragraphs (abbreviate “par.”) or chapters (abbreviate “chap.”) or sections (abbreviate “sec.”).
  • If there is no author listed, the document’s title should be used in place of the author’s name. Use the entire title but not the subtitle. Subtitles are anything appearing after a colon (:).

Use a signal phrase

A signal phrase alerts the reader to the fact that you are citing another source for the information he or she is about to read.

Myers (1997) reported that “structured decision aids, as a factor in a more structured audit approach, are designed to focus the auditor on relevant information to improve effectiveness, and to improve audit efficiency, by eliminating the time needed to develop or organize individual approaches to the audit problems.” (sec. 1, “Introduction”)

Note that the date goes with the author, directions within the document go with the quote.

Later on, same source, different section:

According to one study (Myers, 1997), inexperienced auditors from a structured firm will demonstrate higher audit effectiveness in the typical audit situation than inexperienced auditors from an unstructured firm. (sec. 2, “Structure and Audit Effectiveness”)

Full parenthetical citation after the material cited

Another method is to end the quote with the full citation:

The primary controversies surrounding the issue of accounting for stock-based compensation include whether these instruments represent an expense that should be recognized in the income statement and, if so, when they should be recognized and how they should be measured. (Martin and Duchac, 1997, Sec. 3, “Theoretical Justification for Expense Recognition”)

For long quotes, use a previewing sentence and a parenthetical citation

Long quotes are 40 words or longer and should be single-spaced even in double-spaced papers. The previewing sentence tells the reader what to look for in the quotes (and helps the reader change gears from you to another author).

Martin and Duchac (1997) reiterate the problems with stock-based compensation and accounting issues:

While it is true these estimates generate uncertainties about value and the costs to be recognized, cost recognition should be the fundamental objective and information based on estimates can be useful just as it is with defined benefit pension plans. Given the similarities between stock based compensation and defined benefit pension costs, an expense should be recognized for employee stock options just as pension costs are recognized for defined benefit pension plans. The FASB agreed with this assessment in their exposure draft on stock based compensation, noting that nonrecognition of employee stock option costs produces financial statements that are neither credible nor representationally faithful. (sec. 2.1, “Recognition of Compensation Cost”)

Note the consistent indentation and the paragraph break inside the quote. Also note that the parenthetical citation falls outside the closing period.

Source-reflective statements

Sometimes, summarizing arguments from your sources can leave the reader in doubt as to whose opinion he or she is seeing. If the language is too close to the original source’s, you can leave yourself open to charges of low-level plagiarism or “word borrowing.” Using a source-reflective statement can clarify this problem, allowing you the freedom to assert your voice and opinion without causing confusion. For example:

Myers (1997) reported that “structured decision aids, as a factor in a more structured audit approach, are designed to focus the auditor on relevant information to improve effectiveness, and to improve audit efficiency, by eliminating the time needed to develop or organize individual approaches to the audit problems.” (sec. 1, “Introduction”) Thus, audit pricing by firms with a structured audit approach is lower, on average, than firms with an intermediate or unstructured audit approach.

Is the observation in the last sentence Myers’s or the author’s? We aren’t sure. So insert a source-reflective statement to avoid confusion.

Myers (1997) reported that “structured decision aids, as a factor in a more structured audit approach, are designed to focus the auditor on relevant information to improve effectiveness, and to improve audit efficiency, by eliminating the time needed to develop or organize individual approaches to the audit problems.” (sec. 1, “Introduction”)  Myers’s observation suggests that  audit pricing by firms with a structured audit approach is lower, on average, than firms with an intermediate or unstructured audit approach.

When and how to use footnotes

You may decide to substitute footnotes for in-text citations and a bibliography. Footnotes are thorough, like entries in the bibliography, and yet specific, like in-text citations. However, depending on the thoroughness of your use of footnotes, you may also need a bibliography.

If you decide to use footnotes, you should follow the format outlined above for the information to include in your entries and should number each footnote separately (1, 2, 3, etc.). You should NOT use the same number twice, even when referencing the same document. Check out guidelines such as those in the  Chicago Manual of Style  or the  MLA Handbook  for more information about how to number your footnote entries.


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