While the order in which such information is presented may vary, the primary citation elements of a bibliographic reference are the same for most styles of documentation. Primary citation elements usually include the name of the author, the title of the work, the place of publication (city and state in publisher's address), the publisher's name, the date of publication, and a description of the location (or the page number) of the reference. Many styles also include a category for the publication class or type.
Electronic sources do not always contain all of those elements, and often contain other elements that relate to this new era of publishing. Such differences can include the following:
Login name, nick (online nickname), or alias instead of an author's name
File name instead of a title
Protocol and address (such as a URL) instead of the place of publication and the name of the publisher
When citing an online work, the date the researcher accessed the site may be the only way to designate the edition of that work; not all sites show a date of publication.
Another difference when it comes to citing a reference found on the Web is that a work may consist of only that one page, regardless of its length. Pagination — as well as the need for an index — used in print publication becomes redundant when any word or phrase within the text can be found via a “Find” on a given work. Therefore, while published works usually show navigational references such as page, section, or paragraph numbers at the conclusion of the citation (separated by commas), most online works citations omit those entirely.
Regardless of the differences in how you cite a work, you still must cite it somehow. According to the
Citing Sources Within the Text
Sources mentioned within the text of a document are cited within parentheses. Such parenthetical, or in-text, citations of print publications usually include the author's last name and the page number of the reference (humanities style) or the author's last name, the date of publication, and the page number of the reference (scientific style). For online sources, the parenthetical citation done in humanities style usually just includes the author's last name or, when no author name is available, the file name; for scientific style, the online citation includes the date of publication, or the date of access if no publication date is available.
For scientific style citations for Web pages that do not indicate a publication date or date of last revision or modification, the citation should show the date of access instead, in day-month-year format: (30 Aug. 2002).
While in a print source citation it's acceptable to omit the author's name in subsequent references to the same work (giving only the different page number or location, if applicable), when citing an online source, repeating the author's name may be the only way to acknowledge where the information originated.
Any bibliographic citations should follow the format for whatever style you are using: generally MLA or Chicago for humanities style or APA or CBE for scientific style. Here are some examples of how you can modify those basic formats when citing online:
Author's Last Name, First Name. “Title of Document.”
Ehlers, Eric. “An Online History of the Literature of Comics.”
Author's Last Name, Initial(s). (Date of document [if different from date accessed].) Title of document. Title of complete work [if applicable]. Version or File number [if applicable]. (Edition or revision [if applicable]). Protocol and address, access path, or directories (date of access).
Ehlers, Eric. (2002).
Unless the style guidelines you're using for a work state otherwise, it's generally acceptable to use the “hot link” feature of your word-processing program to underline a URL and display it in a different color (usually blue).