The Importance of Citing Electronic Sources

Perhaps you’re familiar with the concept and use of citations from your schoolwork, or have seen them used in publications. Some of you may not even think twice about citing a source, while others may not be sure, or may simply forget, especially if what you’re writing is informal, and won’t be seen by anyone but your Facebook friends. But it’s important to remember to include the source of your material. It not only makes you appear credible, but it acknowledges the original source of information, which isn’t your own.

But how do you know what is determined to be a credible source? Grammar Girl says it is “subjective” to the reader, and to use “common sense,” but she also offers a few invaluable tips to help you:

1. Find out more about the author(s). What are their credentials? Are they an expert in the subject? What sources do they cite in their work, and are others citing them?

2. Take a look at the layout, design, and overall writing of the source. When was it written, is the information on the page out of date? Check spelling, grammar, and typos. Too many could indicate lack of credibility. Another red flag could be whether the information is designed to sell you something, or if it’s too good to be true.

These are some good ways to help you determine source credibility.

I am certain many of you have tried to cite a source, and when trying to access the source, find that it has disappeared and is no longer available. It’s recommended that you save the file, save the entire page, or check a personal favorite tool in my arsenal called the Wayback Machine. On the Internet Archive site is also a way to save websites so that they don’t disappear.

Up-to-date information of standards on how to cite electronic sources can be found at:

Modern Language Association (MLA)
American Psychological Association (APA)
The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS)
The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)

Don’t be discouraged to use and cite any kind of electronic sources. With these resources, you will be able to cite anything, no matter what you’re writing.

– Amy Platteter

Fogarty, M. (2017, January 19). Citing podcasts and websites. Retrieved from