Increasingly, much research is done online. Here we review how to cite some common electronic sources using the guidelines set out by the Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed.).
Whereas a book or periodical typically provides the publication information in the opening pages, it may be more difficult to locate information about online sources. You may have to do some digging around:
Perhaps the most important rule to remember is that when you cite an entire website you should use roman font (so not italics) for the title. By contrast, the title of a specific webpage is placed between quotation marks.
When citing a website, you should include the title (in roman font), along with a URL. (For more information about citing URLs, check out our separate page).
You may also add a date (along with a description such as last modified on, updated on, or accessed on). Do note, however, that the Chicago Manuel of Style does not recommend the use of access dates unless as a means of last resort (when you have no other way to date the source).
Finally, if you feel that readers may not immediately recognize your source as a website, then just add the tag (website) after the title:
1. Chocolate Fondue Society, accessed April 4, 2018, https://chocfondsoc.org/.
2. Snowflake University (website), updated October 22, 2018. https://snowflakeuniversity.com.
Chocolate Fondue Society. Accessed April 4, 2018. https://chocfondsoc.org/.
Snowflake University (website). Updated October 22, 2018. https://snowflakeuniversity.com.
Note that you don’t have to include websites in your final bibliography: citing them in your footnotes is generally sufficient.
Page of a Website
When citing a specific webpage, follow the same rules as for websites but add the title of the page as well as the author’s name (if there is one).
1. “The Source of Katherine Hepburn’s Eye Infection: The Dirty Secret of Venice’s Famous Canals,” Silver Screen Stories, last modified June 9, 2017, https://www.ssstories.com/
2. Nicky Flamel, “The Mercurial Alchemist,” Alchemy 101, accessed January 2, 2018, https://alchemy101.org/.
“The Source of Katherine Hepburn’s Eye Infection: The Dirty Secret of Venice’s Famous Canals.” Silver Screen Stories. Last modified June 9, 2017. https://www.ssstories.com/
Flamel, Nicky. “The Mercurial Alchemist.” Alchemy 101. Accessed January 2, 2018. https://alchemy101.org/.
If you’ve accessed an academic article online (let’s say through a database), it’s a good idea to provide a URL or DOI:
1. Arno Flush, “The Vespasian Legacy: A Brief History of the Public Toilet,” Roman Architecture Quarterly 5, no. 1 (Summer 2018): 1-14, https://doi.org/10.4221/pi35.2sch/.
Flush, Arno. “The Vespasian Legacy: A Brief History of the Public Toilet.” Roman Architecture Quarterly 5, no. 1 (Summer 2018): 1-14. https://doi.org/10.4221/pi35.2sch/.
For more information, please consult our page on citing periodicals.
When citing an electronic book, try to mention the reading device (e.g., Kindle), the format (e.g., PDF), or the DOI or URL:
1. Hans Emmental, A Tax Code as Porous as Cheese: The Rise of Swiss Banking (Geneva: Gruyere Press, 2001): p. 44, Kindle.
Emmental, Hans. A Tax Code as Porous as Cheese: The Rise of Swiss Banking. Geneva: Gruyere Press, 2001. Kindle.
For more information, please visit our page on citing books.
For specific blog posts, follow this format:
1. Ed Hooiberg, “From Istanbul to Constantinople: The Joy of Long Distance Motor Cycle Trips,” Delightful Turkish Historian (blog), March 23, 2018, https://delightfulturkishhistorian.wordpress.com/.
Hooiberg, Ed “From Istanbul to Constantinople: The Joy of Long Distance Motor Cycle Trips.” Turkish Delightful Historian (blog). March 23, 2018. https://turkishdelightfulhistorian.wordpress.com/.
Note that adding blog in parentheses is optional.
Sometimes blogs are associated with larger organizations or publications. In such cases you may need to give a bit more information:
1. Herman Casing, “Double or Triple Pain? The Perils of Window Installation,” Making it in the Trades (blog), Chronicle of Applied Education, March 11, 2016, https://www.apchronicle.com/blogs/making-it/double-or-triple/.
Casing, Herman. “Double or Triple Pain? The Perils of Window Installation.” Making it in the Trades (blog). Chronicle of Applied Education, March 11, 2016. https://www.apchronicle.com/blogs/making-it/double-or-triple/.
To cite an entire blog, list the creator as editor or author and then follow the same format as with a website.
Comments on blogs and websites usually don’t need to be cited in your final bibliography. In fact, you can get away with just citing them in the text of your essay:
Most readers sneered at Casing’s suggestion that window installers wear gloves. In the words of John Simmons, “Gloves are for pansies” (comment on Casing, February 2, 2017).
Obviously you’ll want to provide a fuller entry for the original blog or webpage.
If you do want to reference a comment in a footnote, you have two options. If you’ve already cited the original post, then you can significantly shorten the footnote for the comment:
1. John Simmons, February 2, 2017, comment on Casing, “Double or Triple Pain?”
On the other hand, if you’re citing just the comment, you’ll want to provide some additional information. Here are two examples, with the first being the most detailed:
1. John Simmons, February 2, 2017, comment on Herman Casing, “Double or Triple Pain? The Perils of Window Installation,” Making it in the Trades (blog), Chronicle of Applied Education, March 11, 2016, https://www.apchronicle.com/blogs/making-it/double-or-triple/#comment-302598710.
2. Bigfoot, April 4, 2018, reply to John Simmons, https://www.apchronicle.com/blogs/making-it/double-or-triple/#comment-30253568.
If the commenter’s name is a pseudonym (e.g., Bigfoot), and you know the person’s real name, you can add it in square brackets:
2. Bigfoot [June Everett]
Video on a Website
You can provide plenty of information about an online video, but we will limit ourselves to a fairly simple example:
1. Esther Taillash, Interview with a Scandinavian Merman, uploaded by SaltyMermaidProductions, Jan. 2, 2018, video, 2:03, https://youtu.be/bri2n_y83.
Taillash, Esther. Interview with a Scandinavian Merman. Uploaded by SaltyMermaidProductions, Jan. 2, 2018. Video, 2:03. https://youtu.be/bri2n_y83.
In this example we’ve clarified both the format (video) and the duration (2:03 min.).
Here’s how you might cite a podcast:
1. Brian Peel, “The Ecuadorian Banana Boom,” in Planet Yellow, produced by John Slipshot, January 24, 2007, podcast, MP3 audio, 13:45, https://www.apple.com/ca/itunes/podcasts/planet-yellow/.
Peel, Brian. “The Ecuadorian Banana Boom.” In Planet Yellow. Produced by John Slipshot. January 24, 2007. Podcast, MP3 audio, 13:45. https://www.apple.com/ca/itunes/podcasts/planet-yellow/.
If the producer is the same as the author, you don’t have to mention the latter’s name twice. Also, if you listened to the podcast online (rather than as a download), the file format is optional.
When citing an app, it’s customary to include the version number and the operating system it can run on:
1. Fighting Clowns, v. 2.3 (Violent Media, 2018), Android 7.0 or later, soundtrack by John Smuckers.
Fighting Clowns. V. 2.3. Violent Media, 2018. Android 7.0 or later. Soundtrack by John Smuckers.
Social media posts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) can often be cited just in the text of your essay:
Brian Roundtree recently questioned whether the term Open Access can include paid content: “Does the ‘Open’ in ‘Open Access’ Still Mean ‘Free’?” (@BrianRoundtree, September 22, 2018).
If you do want to cite social media in a footnote or bibliography, here’s one way:
1. Brian Roundtree (@BrianRoundtree), “Does the ‘Open’ in ‘Open Access’ Still Mean ‘Free’?” Twitter, September 22, 2018, 2:22 p.m., https://twitter.com/BrianRoundtree/status/838839.
Roundtree, Brian (@BrianRoundtree). “Does the ‘Open’ in ‘Open Access’ Still Mean ‘Free’?” Twitter, September 22, 2018, 2:22 p.m. https://twitter.com/BrianRoundtree/status/838839.
For the title of a social media post, use the actual text (the first 160 characters). To describe the post, list the social media platform (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Instagram). You may also clarify the format (e.g., Instagram photo).
Social Media Comment
As with comments on blogs and webpages, social media comments don’t require detailed citation. You can provide just a minimal citation in the text of your essay:
In response to John Bigot’s Facebook rant, Emily Newman replied, “I would unfriend you, but then I wouldn’t have the satisfaction of seeing you mocked by all your friends” (comment on Bigot, September 4, 2018).
You may instead want to provide a more detailed footnote. If you’ve cited the original social media post already, keep your citation short:
1. Emily Newman, “I would unfriend you, but then I wouldn’t have the satisfaction of seeing you mocked by all your friends,” September 4, 2018, comment on Bigot, “I hate it when,” https://www.facebook.com/johnbigot/posts/52309585?comment_id=262099.
For the title of the comment, use the actual text of the comment (up to 160 characters). In the rare instance when you have not cited the original post, you can flesh out some of the details of your citation.