Following the general MLA formatting guidelines, when you cite websites and other online sources in your Works Cited page, include as much information as you have available, going in order of the MLA format citation component sequence, as seen here:
Some Guidelines and Rules for Citing Websites and Online Sources in MLA
- Save all sources. When you’re citing sources you found online, it can be sometimes be difficult to find those sources later (and sometimes they disappear from the Internet.) Be sure to keep digital copies of everything you find, including URLs and PDF or JPG versions of websites and articles you cite. Many times you can simply “print to PDF” from your browser, which will often include the URL of the source.
- Note the “Access” date. MLA uses the term “accessed” to refer to the date you reviewed the information that you are citing. This is important because information on the Internet is often “dynamic” content, not “static,” meaning that it changes often and may be moved or deleted.
- Include URLs for Your Readers. While previous versions of MLA formatting didn’t require the citation of URLs on Works Cited pages, it is now highly encouraged to cite them in order to help your readers locate the information you’re citing quickly. You do not need to include the “https://” when citing URLs, but you can start with either the “www” or the domain name.
- Add the Container. The “Container” (Component 4 above) is the name of a site, like YouTube or NetFlix, that hosts certain types of media. Because many media types (like songs, images, and videos) are found in many places on the internet, it helps readers to know which container you accessed to view the media.
- Look for DOIs. Many scholarly journals include a digital object identifier (DOI) to reference articles. For scholarly journal articles found online, the DOI is more valuable than the URL, so cite the DOI instead.
- Look for Permalinks. Some news sources and other containers will create shortened URLs that tend to be more stable than traditional URLs. You can usually find a permalink if there is a “share” or “cite this” link by the article you wish to cite. If there is and a permalink is given, cite that instead of the traditional URL.
- Cite Paragraphs When No Page Number Is Available. When you cite print materials like books and journals, there are usually page numbers. Online, most articles do not include page numbers, so consider citing paragraph numbers using the abbreviation “para.” or “paras.”.
What to Look for When Referencing and Citing Websites and Online Sources in MLA
Traditional media like books, magazines, journals, and so forth have fairly standard publication rules and, as such, you can typically find all citation information you need in similar areas of each media type. Websites and online sources, however, tend to be less prescriptive and you may have to search for some citation information. In general, look for the information noted in the MLA Format Component Sequence noted in the graphic above, with the addition of URLs, permalinks, DOIs, access dates, and so forth.
Quick List of Citation Components to Look for When Citing Online Sources
- Author or editor name(s)
- Title of article (placed in quotation marks)
- Title of website or container (placed in italics)
- Version numbers, editions, volumes, or issue numbers, when applicable (mostly for digital versions of journals and magazines)
- Publisher name and publication date
- Page and paragraph numbers
- URL (without the “https://”), permalink, or DOI
- Access date
Visit the MLA Format Works Cited page for information on how to format all your citations at the end of your document.
Citing an Entire Website
If you are citing an entire website (meaning multiple pages and sections from a site rather than a page or article on the site), simply name the site, the company or organization that publishes the site, the date it was created, the URL, and the date you accessed the site.
IN-TEXT FORMAT: (Name of Website) WORKS CITED FORMAT: Name of Site. Version number, Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher), date of resource creation (if available), URL, DOI or permalink. Date of access (if applicable). WORKS CITED EXAMPLE: The Visual Communication Guy. Newbold Communication & Design, 2017, http://thevisualcommunicationguy.com/. Accessed 3 November 2017. IN-TEXT EXAMPLE: (The Visual Communication Guy)
A Single Page on a Website (Not an Article)
If you are citing a page on a website that is not an article, there will rarely be an author name. If a name exists, however, definitely include it. With no name available, start with the name of the page in quotation marks, which is usually the largest heading above all the content .
IN-TEXT FORMAT: (Author [if available], "Shortented Title") WORKS CITED FORMAT: Author (if available). "Title of Page." Title of Website and/or Company, date of resource creation (if available), URL, DOI or permalink. Date of access (if applicable). WORKS CITED EXAMPLE: "Sonoco Institute." Clemson University, 2012, http://sonocoinstitute.com/c/article/about-us/. Accessed December 14, 2014. IN-TEXT EXAMPLE: ("Sonoco Institute")
An Article on a Blog, Online Magazine, or News Site
Articles on blogs and web magazines are cited similar to the way they are in print, with the author name first, then the title of the article, followed by the name of the organization or company that publishes the article. Note that you don’t need to cite page numbers or paragraph numbers when citing in-text unless the website is set up to actually show the page numbers of the article online. Cite the date the article was written, the entire URL of the article, and the date you accessed the article.
IN-TEXT FORMAT: (Author Last Name) or (Last Name "Shortened Title") WORKS CITED FORMAT: Last Name, First Name. "Title of Article." Title of Website and/or Company, date of resource creation (if available), URL, DOI or permalink. Date of access (if applicable). WORKS CITED EXAMPLE: Baskin-Sommers, Arielle. "Should Brain Science Be Making Prisons Better, Not Trying to Prove Innocence?" Scientific American, 2 Nov. 2017, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/should-brain-science-be-making-prisons-better-not-trying-to-prove-innocence/. Accessed 3 Nov. 2017. IN-TEXT EXAMPLE: (Baskin-Sommers) or (Last Name "Should Brain")
An Article in an Online Scholarly Journal
Articles from online scholarly journals are cited almost identical to citing articles from print journals with the exception that you’ll need to add the URL and the date of access. If you found your article from an online database or subscription service (like through your university’s library system), follow the example further down: An Article from an Online Database or Subscription Service.
IN-TEXT FORMAT: (Author Last Name) or (Last Name "Shortened Title") WORKS CITED FORMAT: Last Name, First Name. "Title of Article." Title of Journal, Volume, Number, date, URL, DOI or permalink. Date of access (if applicable). WORKS CITED EXAMPLE: Newbold, et al. "Ensuring Faculty Success in Online Competency-based Education Programs. Journal of Competency-based Education, vol. 2, no. 2, Sept. 2017, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cbe2.1052/full. Accessed 3 Nov., 2017. IN-TEXT EXAMPLE: (Newbold et al) or (Newbold et al "Ensuring Faculty")
An Article from an Online Database or Subscription Service
If you accessed an article through a database or subscription service (which is very common if you found an article through a college or university library), you will need to cite the name of the database in addition to the name of the journal, as you can see below.
IN-TEXT FORMAT: (Author Last Name) or (Last Name "Shortened Title") WORKS CITED FORMAT: Last Name, First Name. "Title of Article." Title of Journal, Volume, Number, date, location. Title of Database, URL/DOI or permalink. Date of access (if applicable). WORKS CITED EXAMPLE: Sanders, Laura. "Caffeine Shakes Up Growing Brain." Science News, Vol. 184, No. 6, 2013. JSTOR Journals, http://www.jstor.org/stable/23599064?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents. Accessed 6 Sept. 2016. IN-TEXT EXAMPLE: (Sanders) or (Sanders "Caffeine Shakes")
If you are citing an email, cite the author of the email first as you would any other source. Cite the title as the subject line of the email, followed by who the email recipient was and the date the email was sent.
IN-TEXT FORMAT: (Author Last Name) WORKS CITED FORMAT: Author Last Name, First Name. "Subject Line of Email." Email received by Recipient's Name, Day Month Year. WORKS CITED EXAMPLE: Johnson, Michelle. "Requesting Insights about Libidinal Economy." Email received by Emile Charleston, 17 July 2017. IN-TEXT EXAMPLE: (Johnson)
An Image Found Online
When citing images that you have described textually, cite the artist name, the title of the work, the website or company that published it, the date that the original artwork was created, the URL where you found the image, and the date you accessed the image online. Note that, unlike with citing text only, if you choose to include the actual image in your report, you need to follow copyright guidelines, ensuring you either have the copyright or permission to use the image or you are using it under fair use guidelines or the picture is in the public domain or has a creative commons licencing agreement. See: Can I Use that Picture?
IN-TEXT FORMAT: (Author Last Name) WORKS CITED FORMAT: Artist Last Name, First Name. "Title of Work." Title of Website and/or Company, date of resource creation (if available), URL, DOI or permalink. Date of access (if applicable). WORKS CITED EXAMPLE: Mindard, Charles. "Napoleon's Disastrous Losses Suffered During the Russian Campaign of 1812." Wikimedia Commons, 1869, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Minard.png. Accessed September 19, 2017. IN-TEXT EXAMPLE: (Minard)
A Tweet (Twitter), Facebook Comment, or Other Social Media Post
When citing social media posts, make a best effort to locate the name of the original author in addition to the social media handle. If no name is available, use only the handle. Because social media posts don’t have titles, cite a portion of the text being cited. The MLA Handbook suggests for Twitter that you cite the entire post; as such, it’s a good general rule to cite about 140 characters of any social media post. Cite the social media platform (like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram), the date and time the post was published, and the URL that links directly to the post.
IN-TEXT FORMAT: (Author Name or Handle) or (Author Name "Shortened Text") WORKS CITED FORMAT: Author Name (Handle). "Partial Quote from Post." Name of Social Media Platform, Day Month Year, Time of Day, URL. WORKS CITED EXAMPLE: Trump, Donald (@realDonaldTrump). "Great Tax Cut rollout today. The lobbyists are storming Capital Hill, but the Republicans will hold strong and do what is right for America!" Twitter, 2 Nov. 2017, 6:05 p.m. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/926238774773862400. IN-TEXT EXAMPLE: (Trump) or (Trump "Great Tax")
A YouTube Video
When citing YouTube videos, determine the author of the video as well as the person or organization that uploaded the video. If you clearly know who the author/artist of the video is, cite that first. In cases where there is no author but only an organization that uploaded the video, cite the title of the video first. Follow the title of the video with the container (YouTube), followed by the name of the organization, the date of upload, and the URL.
IN-TEXT FORMAT: (Artist Last Name, First Name) or ("Shortened Titled") WORKS CITED FORMAT: Artist Last Name, First Name. "Title of Video." YouTube, uploaded by Name of Company (if different than artist), Day Month Year, URL. WORKS CITED EXAMPLE: "Scott McCloud: Understanding Comics." YouTube, uploaded by TED, 14 Jan. 2009, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXYckRgsdjI. Accessed 13 Aug. 2016. IN-TEXT EXAMPLE: ("Scott McCloud")
A Comment on a Website or Online Article
When citing a comment on a website or online article, author names are usually replaced with usernames. Cite the username as you would an author, followed by “comment on,” and include the name of the original article, the date, time of publication, and the URL.
IN-TEXT FORMAT: (Username) WORKS CITED FORMAT: Username of Author. Comment on "Title of Article or Post." Name of Publisher/Company, Day Month Year, Time of Day, URL. WORKS CITED EXAMPLE: MatherMayyi. Comment on "How to Make Americans More Generous, Not Less." CNN.com, 31 October 2017, 12:22 PM ET, https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/08/. IN-TEXT EXAMPLE: (MatherMayyi)