Citing Electronic Resources

Electronic resources can include databases, online journals, Web sites, email, newsgroups, discussion groups, and newsletters. Using the proper citation format is important so that your bibliography is both accurate and consistent. Multiple styles exist, so be sure and check with your instructor or publisher when creating your bibliography. Examples are given below for a common scientific citation style, APA (American Psychological Association), based on the fifth edition of APA's Publication Manual.

Keep in mind that you cite electronic resources when you get access to the text or content electronically. If you use PubMed, for example, to find a citation and then get the text from the paper copy of the journal, use the standard print citation format. If, on the other hand, you read the full text of the journal article (not just the abstract) online, use the electronic citation format.

Common citation elements for electronic resources include:

  • author/editor
  • publication or update date
  • article title
  • journal title
  • the type of medium (i.e. CD-ROM, online, etc.)
  • volume and/or pages
  • a source statement (e.g. URL, electronic database vendor, email address, etc.)
  • date you accessed the resource online

Obviously, not every element will apply to every citation.

Examples Using APA Style:

For a full text article from an online edition of a print journal:
Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (year). Title of article [Electronic version]. Title of Periodical, volume, pages. Retrieved month day, year, from source.

  • Penchon, D. (2002). Intermediate care [Electronic version]. BMJ,  324, 1347-1348. Retrieved June 19, 2002 from http://bmj.com/content/vol324/issue7350/.

Note: Add the "retrieved from" portion and the URL only if the print version differs from the electronic version, such as additional data or commentaries. Otherwise, you can exclude that information. 

For a full text article from an online database:
Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (year). Title of article. Title of Periodical, volume, pages. Retrieved month day, year, from source.

  • Mazzone, M. F., McCue, T. (2002). Common conditions of the Achilles tendon. American Family Physician, 65, 1805. Retrieved June 19, 2002 from Health Reference Center Academic database.

For a web document:
Author, A. A. (year). Title of work. Retrieved month day, year, from source.

  • Notess, G. (2002). Search engine statistics. Retrieved June 19, 2002 from http://www.searchengineshowdown.com/stats.
  • The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (2000). Understanding chemotherapy. Retrieved June 19, 2002 from http://www.leukemia-lymphoma.org/all_mat_toc.adp?item_id=4826

For a web document with no identified date or author:
Document title
. (n.d.). Retrieved month day, year from source.

  • The green jelly bean cure. (n.d.) Retrieved June 19, 2002 from http://www.jellybeancure.com/facts.

Additional Resources:

Last modified: Dec 04, 2012
ID=x8714