Olin C. Bailey Library

Citing Electronic Resources - APA Style

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Fifth Edition provides some information on citing electronic resources. The following guidelines are from these pages (especially pp. 268-281) and the APA web site http://www.apastyle.org/elecref.html, and should help you in citing various electronic formats consistently. The most important concept to remember is: citing information should create an easy link between your reader and the original source of your information.  For more information, consult a librarian or check out the APA publication manual which is on reserve in the library.

  1. Electronic Databases

    To cite a full-text article you found on one of our electronic databases through the web, such as the JSTOR or Social Sciences Index, follow this guideline:

    Author Last, A. A., Author Last, B. B., & Author Last, C. C. (Year). Title of
        article [Electronic version]. Title of Periodical, xx, xxx-xxx. Retrieved month
        day, year, from database

    Date of retrieval indicates the date you visited the site. This information is important, as online information changes frequently.

    Example of an article retrieved from the Journal of Bibliographic Research:

    Borman, W.C., Hanson, M. A., Oppler, S. H., Pulakos, E. D., & White, L. A.
        (1993). Role of early supervisory experience in supervisor performance.
        of Applied Psychology
    , 78, 443-449. Retrieved October 23, 2000, from
        PsycARTICLES database.


  2. World Wide Web

    To cite a web site, use the structure you would use for print, but attach the web information in a retrieval statement at the end of the reference.  For a website maintained by an organization, use the following format:

    Organization. (Date). Title of article [important nonroutine information]. Retrieval
        date, access information.

    Example of an web site by an organization action alert on the APA web site:

    American Psychological Association. (1995, September 15). APA public policy
        action alert: Legislation would affect grant recipients [Announcement].
        Retrieved January 25, 1996, from http://www.apa.org/ppo/istook.html

    As time progresses, more documents are offered via the internet only.  For an internet only periodical, the procedure is essentially the same, except that in such a periodical, volume and issue numbers are often irrelevant.  If they are not used , the name of the periodical is all that can de provided in the reference.

    The following is the format for such a periodical found online:

    Author Last, A. A., Author Last, B. B., & Author Last, C. C. (Year). Title of
        document. Title of Periodical, xx, xxx-xxx. Retrieved month day, year, from

    Fredrickson, B. L. (2000, March 7). Cultivating positive emotions to optimize
        health and well-being. Prevention & Treatment, 3, Article 0001a. Retrieved
        November 20, 2000, from http://journals.apa.org/prevention/volume3/

    For a nonperiodical document, use the following guide:

    Author Last, A. A., Author Last, B. B., & Author Last, C. C. (Year). Title of
        work. Retrieved month day, year, from URL.

    Example of the citation of a nonperiodical work:

    Maida, Xavier. (2000).  The cuteness of children as related to the propagation of
        the human race.  Retrieved, April 2, 2002 from http://nlc-lbc.nd.pm/psychology/


  3. CD-ROMs

    The APA no longer differentiates between forms of electronic media in citation, except that a small note is required detailing the medium.  Follow the guidelines just as you would for a website, but change the available from line.  Follow the general guideline:

    Author Last, A. A., Author Last, B. B., & Author Last, C. C. (Year). Title of
        article [Electronic version]. Title of Periodical, xx, xxx-xxx. Retrieved month
        day, year, from database on CD-ROM, release Date, item number.

    An example of a citation for a CD-ROM:

    Halamandaris, K. F. & Power, K. G. (1999, April). Individual differences, social
        support and coping with the examination stress: A study of the psychosocial and
        academic adjustment of first year home students [Abstract]. Personality and
        Individual Differences, 26. Retrieved from SilverPlatter PsycLIT database on
        CD-ROM, June 1999 release, 1999-10573-005.


  4. Email message and Listserv message

    To document an e-mail message, listserv message, or message from an electronic bulletin board, cite it as a personal communication (p. 214). Personal communications are not cited in the reference list – cite them in text only. The format is as follows:

    Chris Spatz (personal communication, August 16, 2001)


    (Nayeenanajar, Samir, personal communication, September 14, 1999)


  5. FTP site

To cite a file for downloading via file transfer protocol, use the same guidelines as if it were a normal web page, but change the location of retrieval.

Example of a citation of an FTP document:

U.S. Senate (1997, January). Safe and Affordable Schools Act of 1997.
    Congressional Record [Online]. Retrieved from

For more examples and advice, see Britt Anne Murphy (x1288) or e-mail her: murphyb@hendrix.edu

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