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Post World War II, the huge influx of money into the research and development fields of various channels of the government and the growing need to document research work publicly led to the evolution of a concept called citation. Citation or referencing, i.e. providing information on the antecedents of any information borrowed from other sources, forms the basic core of ethics in literary and academic work. Borrowing data or information from another writer’s work without giving proper attribution or credit to the original author or passing off the work as one’s own, original work is plagiarism – a strict no-no. The type of citation style used depends upon the type of writing that is offered for publication.
Generally, most citation styles include rules for citing specific works, such as books, journals, research papers and other print material. However, the development of the Internet has created a vast repository of useful information and resources in the last two to three decades. Its use necessitates the formulation of new rules on how to cite information presented exclusively in a web page or website. There are also cases in which the reference is available in both print and Web media, but the writer accesses the reference from the latter itself and not the former.
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Citing a Web Page: Different Styles
Popular citation styles include:
- American Psychological Association (APA) style;
- Modern Language Association (MLA) style;
- Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS);
- Harvard System of Referencing; and
- Turabian Style (a variation of the Chicago Manual).
A citation is made up of two parts: (a) an in-text reference; and (b) a bibliography or list of works cited/referenced at the end of the written material. The three main styles of citation and guidelines for citing a web page are listed below:
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- Standard in-text referencing comprises author’s last name, initial of first name (when referenced for the first time), year of publication, and page number if available, in parenthesis. For example: (Smith, W., 2010, p. 2); if the publishing date is not available, then use the abbreviation n.d. for ‘no date’.
- The full citation is the Reference List at the end of the article or paper and should provide full details of the resource, i.e. name of author(s), date of publication, title of work, and the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) from which the reference is taken. An example: Smith, W., & Doe, J., (2010). How to Cite a Web Page. Retrieved from http://www.xxxx.com. The title of the web page must be marked in italics. Where there are more than two authors, the last names and initials of both authors must be provided. If the author is unknown or is an organization or institution, use ‘Anonymous’ or the name of the organization.
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- In-text citation comprises the author’s name, title of work, and short name of the website from which the information is retrieved. Example: (W Smith, How to Cite a Web Page, Citation.com).
- The full reference in the Works Cited page at the end of the article should consist of the author name, title of work within quotation marks, name of the site and any publication information, if available, date of publication, if available, source, the date you accessed the site, and the URL in angled brackets (not mandatory as per latest MLA guidelines). Where publisher’s name and date of publication are not provided, use the abbreviations n.p. and n.d. Example: Smith, William. “How to Cite a Web Page.” Citation.com. n.d. Web. 5 June 2010. <http://www.citation.com>.
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Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS)
- Notes (footnotes or endnotes) and a detailed bibliography at the end of the article are provided under CMOS.
- The footnote or endnote consists of first and last name of author, title of the web page within quotation marks, website or publisher name in italics, date where available, and the URL. Example: William Smith, “How to Cite a Web Page,” Citation.com, n.d. http://www.citation.com.
- The bibliography entry is made in the following format: last and first name of author, title of web page within quotes, website name in italics, publishing date if available, and URL. Example: Smith, William. “How to Cite a Web Page.” Citation.com. n.d. http://www.citation.com.
These are the most commonly and popularly used citation styles for web pages. Other citation styles such as Harvard and Turabian follow variations of the three major styles provided above.
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