Guidelines and Examples for Citing Electronic Resources
The publishing industry has continuously shifted and evolved in recent years, largely due to the emergence and integration of the internet and a diverse range of electronic resources. This has created new challenges for citation styles, and basic guidelines have now emerged in order to enable writers to document these new source types in their written work. The ASA style has based its guidelines for citing e-resources on The Chicago Manual of Style; find more information here.
Across all sociological disciplines, writers and researchers draw from a huge variety of online source types to support their own ideas; from websites and e-zines, to blogs, electronic mailing lists, machine-readable data files (MRDF), CD-ROM, DVD, and social media channels. There are a few points to bear in mind when citing e-resources:
- Include all of the basic elements of source information in the citation so that the reader can access the material with ease
- Sources that are unlikely to change (e.g. those in PDF or TIFF form, those accessed through JSTOR, exact replicas of the print version) should be cited in print-form
- Ensure that the source you are using will be accessible to your reader (e.g., look out for subscription based databases, access time limits and legal restrictions)
- Whenever possible include the author’s name, document title, date of publication (or retrieval date), and an address (e.g., URL or DOI)
How do I Use a URL to Cite a Source?
The URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is crucial for locating an online document. However, websites can be regularly modified, updated, redesigned, or even removed, so it is crucial that you follow these steps when including a URL in your ASA citations.
- Be sure to carefully check the spelling of a URL so that the source is accurately identified
- Avoid citing a source with a URL that no longer exists
- Do not type the URL address; copy and paste it directly from your browser into your work
- Print and save the data obtained from a URL in case the URL is modified and the information is lost
- If the URL has expired and you still need to cite the source, cite it as an unpublished paper in an archived collection
Keep reading for a detailed list of examples that show you how best to cite electronic sources.
- If an e-book was consulted online, omit page numbers and include the URL and date of access
- If an e-book is available in more than one format, other formats may be listed as well - end the citation with: (Also available at: [insert URL])
Young, T. R. 1989. Crime and Social Justice: Theory and Policy for the 21st Century. Red Feather Institute. Retrieved June 22, 2010 (http://uwacadweb.uwyo.edu/Red_FEATHER/crime/001contents.html).
Printed edition of a book accessed through an online library.
Daniels, John. 2010. Apathetic College Students in America. Middletown, IL: University of Middletown Press. Retrieved April 6, 2011 (http://site.ebrary.com/lib/collegestudies/docDetail.action?docID=1010101010).
Online periodicals available in print & online form.
Scott, Lionel D., Jr., and Laura E. House. 2005. “Relationship of Distress and Perceived Control to Coping with Perceived Racial Discrimination among Black Youth.” Journal of Black Psychology 31(3):254-72.
Journal articles (e-journals) with Digital Object Identifier (DOI).
- A DOI is a unique alphanumeric string assigned to a publication or other unit of intellectual property. As a digital identifier it provides a means of looking up the current location of the source on the internet
- When a DOI is included, it should be cut and pasted directly from the article
Persell, Caroline Hodges, Kathryn M. Pfeiffer, and Ali Syed. 2008. “How Sociological Leaders Teach: Some Key Principles.” Teaching Sociology 36(2):108-24. doi:10.1177/0092055X0803600202.
- As a general rule, if the website contains data or evidence essential to a point being addressed in the manuscript, it should be formally cited with the URL and date of access
Document retrieved from an institution with a known location.
Text: (ASA 2006)
Citation: American Sociological Association. 2006. “Status Committees.” Washington, DC: American Sociological Association. Retrieved July 11, 2010 (http://www.asanet.org/about/committes.cfm).
Document retrieved from a corporate website (unknown location).
Text: (IBM 2009)
Citation: IBM. 2009. “2009 Annual Report.” Retrieved July 25, 2014 (http://www.ibm.com/annualreport/2009/2009_ibm_annual.pdf).
Social Media Sources.
- When referring to a particular social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) posting within the text, it should be accompanied by a footnote in the main body of text rather than included in the reference list
- The footnote must include the page’s title, date accessed, and the URL
Text: The American Sociological Association mentioned the meeting directly on its Facebook page.1
Footnote: 1. American Sociological Association’s Facebook page, accessed June 6, 2014, http://www.facebook.com/AmericanSociologicalAssociation/posts/10154176262000165.
Examples of how to cite a web log entry (also known as “blogs”), e-mail message, items in online databases, machine-readable data files and audiovisual materials (e.g., CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, podcast, PowerPoint presentation and sound recordings etc.) can be found in Section 5: Guidelines for Using Electronic Resources in the 5th edition of the ASA Style Guide.
References Page Formatting
This resource covers American Sociological Association (ASA) style and includes information about manuscript formatting, in-text citations, formatting the references page, and accepted manuscript writing style. The bibliographical format described here is taken from the American Sociological Association (ASA) Style Guide, 5th edition.
Contributors:Joshua M. Paiz, Deborah L. Coe, Dana Lynn Driscoll
Last Edited: 2015-02-03 04:56:49
References Page Formatting
References follow the text in a section headed REFERENCES (use first-level head format identified earlier).
All references should be double-spaced and use a hanging indent.
Use title case for all titles (capitalize all words except prepositions such as of, between, through), articles (such as a, the, and an), and conjunctions (such as but, and, or; however, capitalize them if they begin the title or the subtitle).
Capitalize only the first word in hyphenated compound words, unless the second word is a proper noun or adjective (for example, don’t capitalize it in The Issue of Self-preservation for Women, but do capitalize it in Terrorist Rhetoric:The Anti-American Sentiment).
All references should be in alphabetical order by first authors’ last names.
Include first names for all authors, rather than initials, but use first-name and middle-name initials if an author used initials in the original publication.
List all authors. It is not acceptable to use et al. in the References section unless the work was authored by a committee.
For repeated authors or editors, include the full name in all references (note: this is a change from the third edition of the ASA Style Guide). Arrange references for the same author in chronological order, beginning with the oldest.
Baltzell, E. Digby. 1958. Philadelphia Gentlemen. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.
Baltzell, E. Digby. 1964. The Protestant Establishment. New York: Random House.
Baltzell, E. Digby. 1976. “The Protestant Establishment Revisited.” American Scholar 45:499-519.
When an author appears in both single-authored references and as the first author in a multiple-authored reference, place all of the single-authored references first, even though they may not be in the proper chronological order.
Hoge, Dean R. 1979. "A Test of Theories of Denominational Growth and Decline." Pp. 179-197 in Understanding Church Growth and Decline 1950-1978, edited by D. R. Hoge and D. A. Roozen. New York and Philadelphia: Pilgrim Press.
Hoge, Dean R., Benton Johnson, and Donald A. Luidens. 1994. Vanishing Boundaries: The Religion of Mainline Baby Boomers. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
When the same first author appears in multiple references, arrange them alphabetically by the last name of the second author.
Alba, Richard, and Philip Kasinitz. 2006. “Sophisticated Television, Sophisticated Stereotypes.” Contexts 5(4):74-77.
Alba, Richard, John R. Logan, and Brian J. Stults. 2000. “The Changing Neighborhood Contexts of the Immigrant Metropolis.” Social Forces 79(2):587-621.
When including more than one work by the same author(s) from the same year, add letters to the year (2010a, 2010b, 2010c) and then list the references for that author and year alphabetically by title.
Fyfe, James J. 1982a. “Blind Justice: Police Shootings in Memphis.” The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 73(2):707-22.
Fyfe, James J. 1982b. “Race and Extreme Police-Citizen Violence.” Pp. 173-94 in Readings on Police Use of Deadly Force, edited by J. J. Fyfe. New York: Police Foundation.
Book with One Author
Author's full name, inverted so that last name appears first. Year. Book Title in Title Caps and Italicized. Publishing City: Publisher.
Note that the two-letter state abbreviation should be given only if needed to identify the city. For a publisher located in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, or Boston, for example, it would not be necessary to include the state abbreviation.
Note that the word "volume" is capitalized and abbreviated but not italicized.
Gurr, Ted Robert, ed. 1989. Violence in America. Vol. 1, The History of Crime. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Mason, Karen. 1974. Women's Labor Force Participation. Research Triangle Park, NC: National Institutes of Health.
Book with Two or More Authors
Same as with one author, but do not invert authors’ names after the first author. Separate authors’ names with a comma, and include the word and before the final author.
Note that the word “edition” is abbreviated, and not italicized or capitalized.
Corbin, Juliet, and Anselm Strauss. 2008. Basics of Qualitative Research. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Edited Volume (when citing the entire volume)
Same as book reference but add "eds." to denote book editor'(s') name(s).
Hagan, John, and Ruth D. Peterson, eds. 1995. Crime and Inequality. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Chapter in an Edited Volume
Put chapter title in quotes.
Use Pp. and page numbers to designate where the chapter is found in the volume.
Italicize the book title, then give the book editor’(s’) name(s).
Do not invert editor'(s)' name(s).
Use initials instead of first and middle names for editor(s).
Clausen, John. 1972. "The Life Course of Individuals." Pp. 457-514 in Aging and Society. Vol. 3, A Sociology of Stratification, edited by M.W. Riley, M. Johnson, and A. Foner. New York: Russell Sage.
Scholarly Journal Article
Author's full name, inverted so that last name appears first. Year. “Article Title in Title Caps and in Quotes.” Journal Title in Title Caps and Italicized Volume Number(Issue Number):page numbers of article.
Note that there is no space after the colon preceding page numbers.
For multiple authors, invert last name of first author only.
Separate with commas, unless there are only two authors.
Use and between last two authors.
Conger, Rand. 1997. "The Effects of Positive Feedback on Direction and Amount of Verbalization in a Social Setting." American Journal of Sociology 79:1179-259.
Coe, Deborah L., and James D. Davidson. 2011. “The Origins of Legacy Admissions: A Sociological Explanation.” Review of Religious Research 52(3):233-47.
Magazine or Newspaper Article
Ziff, Larzer. 1995. "The Other Lost Generation," Saturday Review, February 20, pp. 15-18.
Newspaper Article (author unknown)
Lafayette Journal & Courier. 1998. Newspaper editorial. December 12, p. A-6.
Because the nature of public documents is so varied, the form of entry for documentation cannot be standardized. The essential rule is to provide sufficient information so that the reader can locate the reference easily.
Reports, Constitutions, Laws, and Ordinances
New York State Department of Labor. 1997. Annual Labor Area Report: New York City, Fiscal Year 1996 (BLMI Report, No. 28). Albany: New York State Department of Labor.
Ohio Revised Code Annotated, Section 3566 (West 2000).
Telecommunications Act of 1996, Public Law 104-014, 110 U.S. Statutes at Large 56 (1996).
U.S. Bureau of the Census. 1990. Characteristics of Population. Vol. 1. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 4.
Court cases and legislative acts follow a format stipulated by legal publishers.
The act or case is listed first, followed by volume number, abbreviated title, and the date of the work in which the act or case is found.
The volume number is given in Arabic numerals, and the date is parenthesized.
Court cases are italicized, but acts are not.
Case names, including v., are italicized.
Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).
If retrieved from an online database, such as LexisNexis or HeinOnline, provide access information.
Ohio v. Vincer (Ohio App. Lexis 4356 ).
U.S. Congress. House of Representatives. Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007. H.R. 2. 110th Congress, 1st Session, 2007. Retrieved July 11, 2010 (http://thomas.loc.gov).
Name of author. Year. Title of Presentation. Location where the article was presented or is available or has been accepted for publication but has not yet been published.
Conger, Rand D. Forthcoming. “The Effects of Positive Feedback on Direction and Amount of Verbalization in a Social Setting.” Sociological Perspectives.
Smith, Tom. 2003. “General Social Survey.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, August 16, Atlanta, GA.
Dissertation or Thesis
King, Andrew J. 1976. “Law and Land Use in Chicago: A Pre-history of Modern Zoning.” PhD dissertation, Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Meany Archives, LRF, Box 6, March 18, 1970. File 20. Memo, conference with Gloster Current, Director of Organization, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The fifth edition of the ASA Style Guide includes an expanded fifth chapter detailing how to reference electronic sources. This section of the resource will provide examples of some of the more common electronic sources form.
Conard-Salvo, Tammy, Caitlan Spronk, and Joshua M. Paiz. 2014. "Soaring into the Future: The Purdue OWL and Supporting the Next Generation of Writers." Presented at the 2014 ECWCA Conference, March 28, Miami, Ohio. Retrieved November 21, 2014 (http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1003&context=writinglabpres).
Social Media Sources
References to social media sources should not appear in the references page. Rather, it should be footnoted in the body text where referenced. this footnote should include the page's title and URL.
Purdue University. 2012. "Purdue University's Foundations of Excellence Final Report: A Roadmap for Excellent Beginnings." Retrieved Nov. 21, 2014(http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/provost_pubs/1/).
Print Edition of a Book Accessed through an Online Library
Daniels, John. 2010. Apathetic College Students in America. Middletown, IL: University of Middletown Press. Retrieved April 6, 2011(http://site.ebrary.com/lib/collegestudies/docDetail.action?docID=1010101010).
e-Journal Articles with DOI
Phillips, Reginald. M., and S. H. Bonsteel 2010. "The Faculty and Information Specialist Partnership Stimulating Student Interest and Experiential Learning." NurseEducator, 35(3), 136-138. doi: 10.1097/NNE.0b013e3181d95090.