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APA Reference List: Electronic Sources (Web Publications) citation


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Go through step by step tips on how to come up with APA reference list for electronic sources. This guide offers sample and explanation on how to list various electronic sources in APA style.

Reference List: Electronic Sources (Web Publications)

N/B: When using APA, do not include spaces within brackets. Where possible provide the year, month and date of the reference used. However, where the month and date are not provided,  include the publishing year alone. Kindly note that print sources and databases should be provided when you obtain a source from there.

  • Works from an Online Periodical

When referencing an online article, the same style of printed articles is applied. You need to include all the details provided by the online portal, include the issue number of the article in the parentheses.

Author, X. X., & Author, Y. Y. (publication year). Title of article. Title of Online Periodical, volume number(issue number if available). Retrieved from

Here’s an example:

Mallern, B. (2012). 10 tips on writing the living Web. A List Apart: For People Who Make Websites, 149. Retrieved from

  • Online Scholarly Journal Article: Citing DOIs

Kindly note that:  From August, 2011, the formatting style for DOIs was changed. Currently, DOIs are treated as an alpha-numeric string that represents an active link. Based on recommendation by The APA Style Guide to Electronic References, 6th edition, the DOI format used is the one where the article appears.

Therefore, if the article is still using the previous numeric string, enter that as the DOI. However, where it is present as the new system with alpha-numeric string, apply that as the DOI. The manual has examples of old and new DOI citation styles.

Since online materials have a likelihood of their URLs being changed, APA has recommended the need of including a Digital Object Identifier (DOI), where it is availed, rather than using the URLs. DOIs provide a more stable and long lasting links for articles placed on web.

They have a unique identifier to their articles and comprises of a long alphanumeric code. Most publishers (though not all) provide the DOI of an article on their first page.

Take note that in some cases, online bibliographies have an article’s DOI, though they  may “conceal” the code under a button that could have the word “Article” or could be an abbreviation of the vendor’s name such as “CrossRef” or “PubMed.” Such button when followed will normally lead the reader to the full article that will have the DOI. Search DOI’s of print publication or the ones that lead to dead link using’s “DOI Resolver,” shown in a central place on the home page.

 Article From an Online Periodical with DOI Assigned

Author, Y. Y., & Author, X. X. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number, page range. doi:0000000/000000000000 or

Here’s an example:

Heywood, J. J. (2010). Explaining patterns in modern ruminant diversity: contingency or constrain? Biological Journal for the Linean Spciety,  4, 56-78. doi:10.1108/03090560252721161

Trevor, C., & Lorraine, H. (2014). Establishing positive relationship with secondary gifted students and students with emotional and behavioural disorders: Giving these diverse learners what they need. Journalof Developmental Psychology, 33(5), 211-218.

  • Article from an Online Periodical with no DOI Assigned

Online journal articles that do not have DOI need the URL of the home page of that journal.  Note that one objective of citing your work is to give the reader adequate information about the articles you have used.

As such, including the journal home page helps the reader to refer back to your source of information (if the reader wants to).

Author, X. X., & Author, Y. Y. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number. Retrieved from

Here’s an example:

Bouhnik, D., &Deshen, M. (2014). WhatsApp goes to school: Mobile instant messaging between teachers and students. Journal of InformationTechnology Education: Research, 13,217-231. Retrieved from

  • Article from a Database

Kindly Note APA underlines that it is not necessary to include the database information in your citation since databases change with time (p. 192). Nonetheless, the still provides information of the databases for the readers who require this information.

When you are referencing a print articles accessed from a particular online database (for example university library), include proper print citation details (formatting the article as “normal” print citation might be enough).

When you provide these details you enable your readers to access the print version when they do not have accessibility to the database where you obtained the article. Likewise, you can as well provide the item number or the database URL at the end of the reference.

However, APA states that this is not necessary.

When you cite a database article that can be accessed from other places, for example a journal provides the URL of the homepage you have used. It may require you to search for article title or author to get the URL.

When you use articles that  are easily accessible, you need not include database information. However, when the database is hard to find,  then  you can  include the database information. Retrieval dates are only  required when the source could change, for  example Wikis.

To get more information on citing  of articles accessed from electronic databases, refer to pages 187-192 of the Publication Manual.

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number, page range. Retrieved from

Here’s an example:

Smyth, A. M., Parker, A. L., & Pease, D. L. (2002). A study of enjoyment of peas. Journal of Abnormal Eating, 8(3), 120-125. Retrieved from

  • Abstract

When citing an abstract where the full article is not available, just cite that  abstract as  you would with other online citations.  But add the word ‘[Abstract]’  at the end of the article name. Nonetheless, supposing the full text is not accessible,  search for abstracts that are accessible through  abstracts databases and use the  as secondary source.

Here’s an example:

Paterson, P. (2008). How well do young offenders with Asperger Syndrome cope in custody?: Two prison case studies [Abstract]. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 36(1), 54-58.

Hendricks, J., Applebaum, R., & Kunkel, S. (2010). A world apart? Bridging the gap between theory and applied social gerontology. Gerontologist, 50(3), 284-293. Abstract retrieved from Abstracts in Social Gerontology database. (Accession No. 50360869)

  • Newspaper Article

Author, A. A. (Year, Month Day). Title of article. Title of Newspaper. Retrieved from

Here’s an example:

Parker-Pope, T. (2008, May 6). Psychiatry handbook linked to drug industry. The New York Times. Retrieved from

  •  Electronic Books

Electronic books comprises of books placed on databases, personal websites or in audio format. When you reference electronic books, you should follow the format indicated here where the book is only found in a digital format (or where it’s hard to find it in print form).

Supposing the source is not freely  available online or has to be purchases from an online database, include the phrase “Available from,” instead of “Retrieved from,” and direct readers to the source of the book. For books obtainable in both electronic and print form, provide the publication year in parentheses after  the name of the author.

To reference an e-book edition, ensure that  you include the kind and version of the e-book used (e.g., “[Kindle DX version]”). Where DOIs are available, place them at the end of  your reference.

De Huff, E. W. (n.d.). Taytay’s tales: Traditional Pueblo  Indian tales. Retrieved from

Davis, J. (n.d.). Familiar birdsongs of the Northwest.  Available from inkey=1-9780931686108-0

  • Kindle Books

When citing Kindle (and other e-book formats), you need to provide these information: Author name, year of publication, title of the book, e-book version and where possible the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number or the source where you have downloaded the book.

Kindly note that when you include DOI/place of download it replaced the place of publisher.

Here’s an example:

Stoker, B. (1897). Dracula [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from

  • Chapter/Section of a Web Document or Online Book Chapter

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. In Title of book or larger document (chapter or section number). Retrieved from


Engelshcall, R. S. (1997). Module mod_rewrite: URL Rewriting Engine. In Apache HTTP Server version 1.3 documentation (Apache modules). Retrieved from

Peckinpaugh, J. (2003). Change in the Nineties. In J. S. Bough and G. B. DuBois (Eds.), A century of growth in America. Retrieved from GoldStar database.

N/B: Include a section or chapter identifier and include a URL providing a direct link to the section/chapter and  not the home page of a website.

  • Online Book Reviews

Cite information in the same way you would cite when quoting a particular work.(The first example given here is from newspaper article; while the second example is from a scholarly journal.) write “Review of the book” in brackets and provide the title of the reviewed work.

Include the webpage address next to the words “Retrieved from,” supposing the review is accessible freely. Supposing the review is from a database that requires a subscription fee, write “Available from” and include the give the database where the review was bought from.


Zacharek, S. (2008, April 27). Natural women [Review of the book Girls like us]. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Castle, G. (2007). New millennial Joyce [Review of the books Twenty-first Joyce, Joyce’s critics: Transitions in reading and culture, and Joyce’s messianism: Dante, negative existence, and the messianic self]. Modern Fiction Studies, 50(1), 163-173. Available from Project MUSE Web site:

  • Dissertation/Thesis from a Database

Here’s an example:

Biswas, S. (2008). Dopamine D3 receptor: A neuroprotective treatment target in Parkinson’s disease. Retrieved from ProQuest Digital Dissertations. (AAT 3295214)

  • Online Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

Normally, dictionaries and encyclopedia do not offer bylines (name of author). Where bylines are not provided, place the entry name at the start of the citation. Include publication year if available or indicate (n.d.) where the year is not provided.

Here’s an example:

Feminism. (n.d.). In Encyclopædia Britannica online. Retrieved from

  • Online Bibliographies and Annotated Bibliographies

Here’s an example:

Jürgens, R. (2005). HIV/AIDS and HCV in Prisons: A Select Annotated Bibliography. Retrieved from

  • Data Sets

Direct readers to where you have obtained the raw data by including a web address (include “Retrieved from”) or a common location that where the data sets are housed (include “Available from”).

Here’s an example:

United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. (2008). Indiana income limits [Data file]. Retrieved from

  • Graphic Data (e.g. Interactive Maps and Other Graphic Representations of Data)

Provide the name of the research organization, and follow it with the date. Include brief information about the type of data provided and format that data appears. Close this brief information with brackets. Lastly. Include the project name and where it has been retrieved.

Here’s an example:

Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment. (2007). [Graph illustration the SORCE Spectral Plot May 8, 2008]. Solar Spectral Data Access from the SIM, SOLSTICE, and XPS Instruments. Retrieved from spectra.ion

  • Qualitative Data and Online Interviews

Supposing the interview cannot be retried in audio or print format, you should cite the interview just within the in-text (exclude it from the reference list), include the month, day and year within the in-text. However, if the transcript or audio file can be accessed online, use this style, put the medium in brackets ( for example [interview audio file, Interview transcript]):

Here’s an example:

Butler, C. (Interviewer) & Stevenson, R. (Interviewee). (1999). Oral History 2 [Interview transcript]. Retrieved from Johnson Space Center Oral Histories Project Web site: http://

  • Online Lecture Notes and Presentation Slides

To cite online lecture notes, ensure that you indicate the file format within brackets next to the lecturer title (e.g. Word document,PowerPoint slides).

Hallam, A. Duality in consumer theory [PDF document]. Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Web site:

Here’s an example:

Roberts, K. F. (1998). Federal regulations of chemicals in the environment [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from

  •  Non-periodical Web Document or Report

Include as much information as you can (at times you will be required to search around to get the information. Look for information, if you have a page similar to this), and somepage.htm doesn’t have the information you’re looking for, move up the URL to

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of document. Retrieved from http://Web address

Here’s an example:

Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M., Soderland, L., &Brizee, A. (2010, May 5). General format. Retrieved from

Kindly Note: supposing the internet article goes beyond one web page, include the URL linking to the home page or include an entry page for that document. In addition, if a date is not provided, use (n.d.) to indicate no date.

APA recommendsthat YouTube video should be cited as shown above.

  • Computer Software/Downloaded Software

Avoid citing standard office software ( for example Excel, Word) or programming language. Include references only when specialized software are used.

Here’s an example:

Ludwig, T. (2002). PsychInquiry [computer software]. New York: Worth.

When you download a software from website,  you need to cite by providing the software’s version together with  the year (if provided).

Here’s an example:

Hayes, B., Tesar, B., &Zuraw, K. (2003). OTSoft: Optimality Theory Software (Version 2.1) [Software]. Available from

  •  E-mail

E-mails are not included in the list of references, though you parenthetically cite them in your main text: (E. Robbins, personal communication, January 4, 2001).

  • Online Forum or Discussion Board Posting

Include the title of the message, and the URL of the newsgroup or discussion board. Please note that titles for items in online communities (e.g. blogs, newsgroups, forums) are not italicized.

If the author’s name is not available, provide the screen name. Place identifiers like post or message numbers, if available, in brackets. If available, provide the URL where the message is archived (e.g. “Message posted to…, archived at…”).

Here’s an example:

Frook, B. D. (1999, July 23). New inventions in the cyberworld of toy landia [Msg 25]. Message posted to

  • Blog (Weblog) and Video Blog Post

Include the title of the message and the URL. Please note that titles for items in online communities (e.g. blogs, newsgroups, forums) are not italicized. If the author’s name is not available, provide the screen name.

Here’s an example:

J Dean. (2008, May 7). When the self emerges: Is that me in the mirror? [Web log comment]. Retrieved from

Psychology Video Blog #3 [Video file]. Retrieved from

  • Wikis

Please note that the APA Style Guide to Electronic References warns writers that wikis (like Wikipedia, for example) are collaborative projects that cannot guarantee the verifiability or expertise of their entries.

Here’s an example:

OLPC Peru/Arahuay. (n.d.). Retrieved April 29, 2011 from the OLPC Wiki: http://wiki.laptop. org/go/OLPC_Peru/Arahuay

  • Audio Podcast

For all podcasts, provide as much information as possible; not all of the following information will be available. Possible addition identifiers may include Producer, Director, etc.

Here’s an example:

Bell, T., & Phillips, T. (2008, May 6). A solar flare. Science @ NASA Podcast. Podcast retrieved from

  • Video Podcasts

For all podcasts, provide as much information as possible; not all of the following information will be available. Possible addition identifiers may include Producer, Director, etc.

Here’s an example:

Scott, D. (Producer). (2007, January 5). The community college classroom [Episode 7]. Adventures in Education. Podcast retrieved from

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