18.8 Websites and other digital media
18.8.1 General principles
The basic template for citing digital references might include some, or all, of the following classes of information (not always necessarily in this order):
• author’s or editor’s name (if no author, list under the title or website name)
• title of the article or other subsection used (roman in quotes) or description of the content if there is no title (roman, in square brackets)
• general title or title of the complete work (italic)
• volume or page numbers (when citing online journals that have no volumes the date may be cited here)
• general information, including type of medium (in square brackets)
• date on which the material was created or on which it was published or posted (day month year, in parentheses); use n.d. if the date is unknown, or c.XXXX if approximate date is known
• institution or organization responsible for maintaining or publishing the information (roman, with maximal capitalization)
• address of online source or digital object identifier (doi)
• pagination or online equivalent
• date accessed.
Examples of specific digital citations are presented in
Electronic books, journals, magazines, newspapers, and reviews should be treated as much as possible like their print counterparts, with the same style adopted for capitalization, italics, and quotation marks. It is sometimes less straightforward to fit the pertinent information into the categories normally associated with print publications, such as author, title, place and date of publication, and publisher. Aspects such as pagination and publication date may differ between hard-copy and digital versions, so the reference must make clear which is meant.
Where print versions exist they can—but need not—be cited; similarly, citing digital versions of printed media is not mandatory. To provide the reader with both does, however, offer all possible options for following up a reference. When making citations for references with more than one online source, choose the one that is most likely to be stable and durable.
Where the context or content of a citation does not make obvious the format or platform in which the data are held, give additional clarification (typically in square brackets):
There is no need to add online or available from to the citation, since this will be apparent from the inclusion of an address.
18.8.3 Resource locators
URLs are unreliable as a medium- to long-term source locator for various reasons and some house styles preclude them from references. However, even if a web page no longer exists, the URL still constitutes a historical source if it is provided with a date of access (presumably, it existed at a point in the past, when the author accessed it), and there may not be an alternative source for the information.
If citing the whole of a document that consists of a series of linked pages, give the highest-level URL; this is most often the contents or home page. Give enough information to allow the reader to navigate to the exact reference. Many sites provide a search facility and regularly archive material; the search function will provide the surest method of reaching the destination if the document is relocated.
The protocol http is commonly omitted for websites that include www in the domain name as the browser will automatically insert it, and it is becoming more common to omit www as well; however, other protocols exist, such as ftp and the encrypted variant https, so if there is any risk of confusion, include the protocols for all.
It is also good practice to include the trailing forward slash (which points to a resource on the website) after the domain name (
It is not advisable to enclose a URL in angle brackets because it can interfere with XML tagging. Do not add underline formatting to URLs in word processor files. Normal punctuation can be used after a URL:
If citing a long URL is unavoidable, never hyphenate the address at a line break, or at hyphens. Divide URLs only after a solidus or a %; where this is impossible, break the URL before a punctuation mark, carrying it over to the following line. Where space allows, setting a URL on a separate line can prevent those of moderate length from being broken.
18.8.4 Access information
Up to four dates can be significant in providing a complete citation for an electronic source:
• the date the information was originally created, released, or printed; this is of special interest when citing online reprints of previously published material
• the date the information was originally posted or made available online: mainly of relevance when citing large online reference works
• the date the information was last updated or revised: rarely required
• the date the information was last accessed by the author: always record this and include it in the citation; editors should not change the author’s access date as the web page may have changed.
It is rarely necessary to include more than two of the above dates, and usually the access date, and maybe the last updated date, will suffice.
18.8.5 Types of digital citation
Depending on their importance, some Internet material (e.g. a passing reference to a tweet, a Facebook update, or an image) may simply be referred to in passing in the text or in notes, rather than included as a reference in the bibliography. Full details should be provided in a footnote or endnote. The principles remain the same as for a reference, except that the first name of the author/originator is not reversed as it is in a bibliographical reference.
Print publication available online
Online journal article
Liu, Ya-Ming, Yea-Huei Kao Yang, and Chee-Ruey Hsieh, ‘Regulation and Competition in the Taiwanese Pharmaceutical Market under National Health Insurance’, Journal of Health Economics, 31 (2012), 471–83. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2012.03.003
Article in a database
BBC News, ‘Inside India’s Mars Mission HQ’ [video] (5 Nov. 2013),
Hooper, Richard, ‘Lebanon’s Forgotten Space Programme’, BBC News Magazine (14 Nov. 2013),
‘Christ the God Shepherd’, stained glass window, Church of St Erfyl, Llanerfyl, Powys, Imaging the Bible in Wales Database,
The speaker’s name may be replaced with that of a writer or producer, depending on the podcast.
John Harvey, ‘ “These are a Few of My Favourite Things”, No. 28’ [Facebook post] (13 Nov. 2013),
If there is no obvious ‘heading’ that can be used in place of a title for the post, it can simply be described as a ‘[Facebook post]’.
The date and time of messages are always those of the reader’s time zone, as it may not be possible to determine the exact date and time a tweet was posted. The tweet itself may be omitted and replaced with the description ‘Twitter feed’, ‘Twitter post’, or ‘tweet’. If the tweeter is a named or known individual, the tweet can also be listed under his/her real name followed by the username in parentheses, or vice versa.
Austen, Jane, Persuasion, ed. Gillian Beer (London: Penguin, 2003; Kindle edn, 2006).
The pagination of an ebook is not always fixed; hence reference is best made to a chapter or section rather than a page number. Some ebook editions provide print page numbers to facilitate referencing. Avoid device-specific indicators such as Kindle location numbers. As with any resource that is relatively new, citation styles vary and will probably change fairly quickly, as the technology continues to evolve. The last example above includes the publication details of the print as well as the ebook version. Some styles (not Oxford) suggest including the device on which it is read, the database from which it has been downloaded, and the date of the download.
Eliot, T. S., The Waste Land (version 1.1.1) [mobile application for iPad] (London: Touch Press, 2013), downloaded 9 Nov. 2013.
Some styles also include the web address of the download site.
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