"Always provide as much information as you can about an electronic source. The goal is to provide as much information as you can accurately supply that will help the reader locate the exact source cited."
-- Garner and Smith, 1993
A bibliography, as any student or former student knows, is an alphabetized list providing information about resources used or consulted while preparing a paper or project. The purpose of the bibliography is to attribute unoriginal ideas to their proper sources -- and to help the reader locate and utilize those sources.
Through the years, several different formats for citing print resources have been developed. Those formats, often determined by the purpose or subject matter of the paper or project, are similar -- but not identical -- to one another.
Three of the most commonly used bibliographic styles include these:
Whichever style is used, the same general standards for creating a bibliography apply. These include the following:
More and more students, many of whom have grown up with computers, are using electronic resources in preparing research papers and projects. Those electronic resources can include e-mail; Web sites; listservs; newsgroups; online chats; online encyclopedias, almanacs, dictionaries, and directories; electronic books, articles, journals, magazines, and other publications; online databases; gopher documents; FTP (file transfer protocol) files; software; and video games.
Whenever students utilize those resources, they must cite and attribute them, just as they would print resources.
So far, no one method of citing those resources has been agreed upon. Even the styles most often used -- proposed by authors of the most common print style guides, by authors of electronic style guides, and by committees of educators -- are still evolving.
Many educators have developed their own rules for citing electronic resources based on one or more of the above sources. If you haven't, you might want to check out one of the guides below. We've included reference formats from the three most widely used guides, as well as one created specifically for students!
Citing the World Wide Web in Style: APA and MLA Formats This site provides style references for online sources from both the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Citing Electronic Resources The Internet Public Library provides links to a number of sources providing formats for electronic style.
Documenting Sources from the World Wide Web This site provides style references from the Modern Language Association (MLA). For online source formats, go to MLA Online, click MLA Style, and click Documenting Sources from the World Wide Web.)
Citing Internet Sources Classroom Connect's Connected Teacher provides guidelines for referencing electronic citations.
Citation Style Guides for Internet and Electronic Sources The University of Alberta provides links to a number of sites on citing electronic sources.
Basic Columbia Guide to Online Style Columbia University Press provides these style guides for online resources.
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