Citing Articles from Online Periodicals: URLs and Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs)
Whenever you cite online sources, it is important to provide the most up-to-date information available to help readers locate the source. In some cases, this means providing an article’s URL, or web address. (The letters URL stand for uniform resource locator.) Always provide the most complete URL possible. Provide a link to the specific article used, rather than a link to the publication’s homepage.
As you know, web addresses are not always stable. If a website is updated or reorganized, the article you accessed in April may move to a different location in May. The URL you provided may become a dead link. For this reason, many online periodicals, especially scholarly publications, now rely on DOIs rather than URLs to keep track of articles.
A DOI is a Digital Object Identifier—an identification code provided for some online documents, typically articles in scholarly journals. Like a URL, its purpose is to help readers locate an article. However, a DOI is more stable than a URL, so it makes sense to include it in your reference entry when possible. Follow these guidelines:
- If you are citing an online article with a DOI, list the DOI at the end of the reference entry.
- If the article appears in print as well as online, you do not need to provide the URL. However, include the words Electronic version after the title in brackets.
- In other respects, treat the article as you would a print article. Include the volume number and issue number if available. (Note, however, that these may not be available for some online periodicals).
An Article from an Online Periodical with a DOI
List the DOI if one is provided. There is no need to include the URL if you have listed the DOI.
Bell, J. R. (2006). Low-carb beats low-fat diet for early losses but not long term. OBGYN News, 41(12), 32. doi:10.1016/S0029-7437(06)71905-X
An Article from an Online Periodical with No DOI
List the URL. Include the volume and issue number for the periodical if this information is available. (For some online periodicals, it may not be.)
Note that if the article appears in a print version of the publication, you do not need to list the URL, but do indicate that you accessed the electronic version.
Robbins, K. (2010, March/April). Nature’s bounty: A heady feast [Electronic version]. Psychology Today, 43(2), 58.
A Newspaper Article
Provide the URL of the article.
McNeil, D. G. (2010, May 3). Maternal health: A new study challenges benefits of vitamin A for women and babies. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/04/he...tml?ref=health
An Article Accessed through a Database
Cite these articles as you would normally cite a print article. Provide database information only if the article is difficult to locate.
APA style does not require writers to provide the item number or accession number for articles retrieved from databases. You may choose to do so if the article is difficult to locate or the database is an obscure one. Check with your professor to see if this is something he or she would like you to include.
An Abstract of an Article
Format these as you would an article citation, but add the word Abstract in brackets after the title.
Bradley, U., Spence, M., Courtney, C. H., McKinley, M. C., Ennis, C. N., McCance, D. R.…Hunter, S. J. (2009). Low-fat versus low-carbohydrate weight reduction diets: Effects on weight loss, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular risk: A randomized control trial [Abstract]. Diabetes, 58(12), 2741–2748. http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org...00098.abstract
A Nonperiodical Web Document
The ways you cite different nonperiodical web documents may vary slightly from source to source, depending on the information that is available. In your citation, include as much of the following information as you can:
- Name of the author(s), whether an individual or organization
- Date of publication (Use n.d. if no date is available.)
- Title of the document
- Address where you retrieved the document
If the document consists of more than one web page within the site, link to the homepage or the entry page for the document.
American Heart Association. (2010). Heart attack, stroke, and cardiac arrest warning signs. Retrieved from http://www.americanheart.org/present...dentifier=3053
An Entry from an Online Encyclopedia or Dictionary
Because these sources often do not include authors’ names, you may list the title of the entry at the beginning of the citation. Provide the URL for the specific entry.
Addiction. (n.d.) In Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/addiction
If you cite raw data compiled by an organization, such as statistical data, provide the URL where you retrieved the information. Provide the name of the organization that sponsors the site.
US Food and Drug Administration. (2009). Nationwide evaluation of X-ray trends: NEXT surveys performed [Data file]. Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/Radiation-Emittin...EvaluationofX- RayTrendsNEXT/ucm116508.htm
When citing graphic data—such as maps, pie charts, bar graphs, and so on—include the name of the organization that compiled the information, along with the publication date. Briefly describe the contents in brackets. Provide the URL where you retrieved the information. (If the graphic is associated with a specific project or document, list it after your bracketed description of the contents.)
US Food and Drug Administration. (2009). [Pie charts showing the percentage breakdown of the FDA’s budget for fiscal year 2005]. 2005 FDA budget summary. Retrieved from mhttp://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/Reports.../ucm117231.htm
An Online Interview (Audio File or Transcript)
List the interviewer, interviewee, and date. After the title, include bracketed text describing the interview as an “Interview transcript” or “Interview audio file,” depending on the format of the interview you accessed. List the name of the website and the URL where you retrieved the information. Use the following format.
Davies, D. (Interviewer), & Pollan, M. (Interviewee). (2008). Michael Pollan offers president food for thought [Interview transcript]. Retrieved from National Public Radio website: http://www.npr.org/templates/transcr...ryId=100755362
An Electronic Book
Electronic books may include books available as text files online or audiobooks. If an electronic book is easily available in print, cite it as you would a print source. If it is unavailable in print (or extremely difficult to find), use the format in the example. (Use the words Available from in your citation if the book must be purchased or is not available directly.)
Chisholm, L. (n.d.). Celtic tales. Retrieved from http://www.childrenslibrary.org/icdl/BookReader?bookid=chicelt_00150014&twoPage=false&route=text&size=0&fullscreen=
A Chapter from an Online Book or a Chapter or Section of a Web Document
These are treated similarly to their print counterparts with the addition of retrieval information. Include the chapter or section number in parentheses after the book title.
Hart, A. M. (1895). Restoratives—Coffee, cocoa, chocolate. In Diet in sickness and in health (VI). Retrieved from http://www.archive.org/details/dieti...ssin00hartrich
A Dissertation or Thesis from a Database
Provide the author, date of publication, title, and retrieval information. If the work is numbered within the database, include the number in parentheses at the end of the citation.
For commonly used office software and programming languages, it is not necessary to provide a citation. Cite software only when you are using a specialized program, such as the nutrition tracking software in the following example. If you download software from a website, provide the version and the year if available.
Internet Brands, Inc. (2009). FitDay PC (Version 2) [Software]. Available from http://www.fitday.com/Pc/PcHome.html?gcid=14
A Post on a Blog or Video Blog
Citation guidelines for these sources are similar to those used for discussion forum postings. Briefly describe the type of source in brackets after the title.
writing at work
Because the content may not be carefully reviewed for accuracy, discussion forums and blogs should not be relied upon as a major source of information. However, it may be appropriate to cite these sources for some types of research. You may also participate in discussion forums or comment on blogs that address topics of personal or professional interest. Always keep in mind that when you post, you are making your thoughts public—and in many cases, available through search engines. Make sure any posts that can easily be associated with your name are appropriately professional, because a potential employer could view them.
A Television or Radio Broadcast
Include the name of the producer or executive producer; the date, title, and type of broadcast; and the associated company and location.
West, Ty. (Executive producer). (2009, September 24). PBS special report: Health care reform [Television broadcast]. New York, NY, and Washington, DC: Public Broadcasting Service.
A Television or Radio Series or Episode
Include the producer and the type of series if you are citing an entire television or radio series.
Couture, D., Nabors, S., Pinkard, S., Robertson, N., & Smith, J. (Producers). (1979). The Diane Rehm show [Radio series]. Washington, DC: National Public Radio.
To cite a specific episode of a radio or television series, list the name of the writer or writers (if available), the date the episode aired, its title, and the type of series, along with general information about the series.
Bernanke, J., & Wade, C. (2010, January 10). Hummingbirds: Magic in the air [Television series episode]. In F. Kaufman (Executive producer), Nature. New York, NY: WNET.
A Motion Picture
Name the director or producer (or both), year of release, title, country of origin, and studio.
Spurlock, M. (Director/producer), Morley, J. (Executive producer), & Winters. H. M. (Executive producer). (2004). Super size me. United States: Kathbur Pictures in association with Studio on Hudson.
Name the primary contributors and list their role. Include the recording medium in brackets after the title. Then list the location and the label.
- Smith, L. W. (Speaker). (1999). Meditation and relaxation [CD]. New York, NY: Earth, Wind, & Sky Productions.
- Székely, I. (Pianist), Budapest Symphony Orchestra (Performers), & Németh, G. (Conductor). (1988). Chopin piano concertos no. 1 and 2 [CD]. Hong Kong: Naxos.
Provide as much information as possible about the writer, director, and producer; the date the podcast aired; its title; any organization or series with which it is associated; and where you retrieved the podcast.
Kelsey, A. R. (Writer), Garcia, J. (Director), & Kim, S. C. (Producer). (2010, May 7). Lies food labels tell us. Savvy consumer podcasts [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.savvyconsumer.org/podcasts/050710
Revisit the references section you began to compile in Exercise 1.
- Use the APA guidelines provided in this section to format any entries for electronic sources that you were unable to finish earlier.
- If your sources include a form of media not covered in the APA guidelines here, consult with a writing tutor or review a print or online reference book. You may wish to visit the website of the American Psychological Association at http://www.apa.org or the Purdue University Online Writing lab at http://owl.english.purdue.edu, which regularly updates its online style guidelines.
- Give your paper a final edit to check the references section.
In APA papers, entries in the references section include as much of the following information as possible:
- Print sources. Author(s), date of publication, title, publisher, page numbers (for shorter works), editors (if applicable), and periodical title (if applicable).
- Online sources (text-based). Author(s), date of publication, title, publisher or sponsoring organization, and DOI or URL (if applicable).
- Electronic sources (non-text-based). Provide details about the creator(s) of the work, title, associated company or series, and date the work was produced or broadcast. The specific details provided will vary depending on the medium and the information that is available.
- Electronic sources (text-based). If an electronic source is also widely available in print form, it is sometimes unnecessary to provide details about how to access the electronic version. Check the guidelines for the specific source type.