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SOAS Library

Citing electronic sources

If you use information that you have accessed electronically, in your essays, dissertations or presentations you will need to know how to cite these sources in your bibliography.

As with print citations there are several different styles that can be followed, MLA, APA, Harvard and others so it is always advisable to check with your lecturer or supervisor to find out which style is preferred.

General guidelines

  1. There are many different types of electronic information, make sure you identify what kind of source you are using. Is the source a personal web-site, an article in an electronic journal, an online reference book, an organisation's web-site, a CD-ROM or an email discussion list?
  2. Always note down the web-site address or URL (will start http://)
  3. Always note down the date that you accessed a web-site or electronic journal.
    Web pages move or become defunct. The service that you used may no longer be available when your supervisor needs to check your reference.
  4. Look for the author of the information. Is there a clear author e.g. an electronic journal article or is it produced by an organisation or an undisclosed individual?
  5. Does the web page have a title? Online journal articles usually have an obvious title, but not all electronic sources do. If it is a message from a discussion list, the title will be the subject field of the email.
  6. If the information is from one of the services which SOAS subscribes to, include the name of the service in your reference. E.g. many journal articles are available via EBSCOhost or JSTOR.

Online guides

Research and Documentation Online
Reference guide to using the various different styles to cite electronic information with useful examples. 

Purdue online writing lab (OWL)
A range of materials on writing skills, with an extensive section on citing and referencing which includes APA style guides and advice, and MLA formatting and style guides.

More information

Pears, R. and Shields, G. (2010) Cite them right: the essential referencing guide. 8th ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.