Documenting Sources: Overview
The Internet and other digital sources of information are widely used tools for research, but since they are still relatively new tools, various disciplines are still deciding the correct way to document electronic sources, and disciplines are constantly changing their minds as to what the most appropriate ways are.
To ensure accuracy, it's always best to consult the style manual and/or accompanying Web site for your discipline first before consulting other sources. We have a complete list of style manuals on our resources for documenting sources in the disciplines page, which also provides links to general information about documenting print sources (and in some cases, electronic sources). Other ways to determine the style you should use are to ask your instructor for guidelines or resources.
This resource contains links to sources that will help students, teachers, and anybody doing research on the Internet to cite electronic sources using different styles. We also have links to some of our OWL handouts on citing sources.
Documenting Electronic Sources in Specific Disciplines
Two main documentation styles used in the United States are MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association). MLA style is used in the humanities, and APA style in the natural and social sciences.
For documenting electronic sources in MLA, check out these pages:
For APA style, try these pages:
- Purdue OWL's Resources on APA Format
- The American Psychological Association's Citing Electronic Sources Guide
For other discipline-specific styles, check out these sites:
- The Sciences/CSE Style: Bedford St. Martin's Online's Using CSE Style to Cite and Document Sources
- Chicago Style (used by many disciplines, including history): Bedford St. Martin's Online's Using Chicago Style to Cite and Document Sources
- Engineering and Sciences: Virginia Tech offers a guide for engineering and science students that covers formatting, citing sources, and other elements of style.
- Legal Writing: The State Bar of Michigan's Citation of Legal and Non-Legal Electronic Database Information Page
- Political Science: APSA Documentation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Writing Center
Online Guides to Citing Electronic Sources
Here are some guides to citing electronic sources in a variety of disciplines.
- Bedford St.Martin's Online! Citation Style Guide covers citing sources in MLA, APA, and CBE formats, and contains links and resources about other citation styles.
- Como citar recursos electronicos is a guide to citing online resources created by the University of Barcelona and written in the Spanish language.
- The Library of Congress has a guide to citing electronic sources that explains how to cite different types of media available online, including films, pictures, legal documents, and reproductions of texts.
- The University of Wisconsin maintains a list of electronic source guides organized by discipline, plus general resources.
- Wright State University Libraries have a list of guides for formatting in most of the major formats.