Citing Internet Sources: Use Your Style Sheet; Citation Logic

        For specific examples of all MLA citation formats, see any modern college composition handbook, or see the Style Sheet's last entry.  The style sheet example uses the title of the page because there was no author, so the in-text citation would be ("Gilman"). If there is no pagination, as is often the case, use either the "n. pag." or "n.p." convention to indicate that. Any quoted or paraphrased string of text on an Internet web page is so easily searchable (using the Ctl-F command) that it's really no more imposition on the readers than giving them a page.  Note that although MLA does not require authors to give readers a URL (web page address) in the citation, I do require it as part of my general rule that authors should remember "to serve the reader" in all their decisions about how to deliver what they want the reader to read.  If the reader is happy, you will be happy, and being able to click on that hyperlink makes readers happy.

The first example is a printed edition which was scanned and posted in HTML code on a web site.

Caxton, William.  The Golden Legend.  [Trans. from Jacobus de Voraigne,  Legenda Aurea.]  Ed. F. S. Ellis.  Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1931.  Web.  Available online from Medieval Sourcebook at:  Viewed: 11 February 2008.

The second example is a "born digital" text which only exists in HTML code in an online web page.

Seger, Bob.  “Seriously, Cleveland, How Are You?”  The Onion, 44:06 (February 6, 2008), Web.  Available online at:  Viewed: 11 February 2008.

The third example is an anonymous, titled web page that only exists in HTML code in an online web page.

“Next Generation to Take a Pass on Aerosmith.”  The Onion, 44:07 (February 11, 2008), Wen.  Available online at:  Viewed: 11 February 2008.

The Logic Behind the Format:

        The basic rule is simple: the web page is the individual document you cite, and the web site is the volume or collection or serial publication containing the page/document.

Author:  Web pages sometimes have their own authors, who are different from the authors of the web sites.  Look for them on the page, itself.  This is true even when the "page" is an academic publication available online.  When individual pages have no author, sometimes the authorship of all pages on a site is claimed by the site owner, as in this case.

Title ("page" and site):  Web-based information resembles printed periodicals more than books.  Web pages are constructed like short "articles" in larger storage units, the web sites, which correspond to the periodical (e.g. People Magazine or Journal of English and Germanic Philology).  For this reason, web pages are given titles which your citation puts in quotation marks like this very page: "Citing Internet Sources: Use Your Handbook and Style Sheet; Citation Logic."  This page lives on a web site that also has a name, which all properly constructed web sites will place prominently on its home page, whose title is prominently displayed at the top.  The site title functions like The Washington Post (in Italics, because it is a serial periodical with individual articles titled in quotes) or Journal of English and Germanic Philology.

Date and/or Date Viewed: The next piece of an ordinary MLA citation would be "publication date."  Web-based information can have two kinds of dates: original posting date and most recent revision date.  Some pages never change since their first posting.  Some are revised often.  For instance, though this page was first designed in 2007, it was last revised on 02/07/2013 09:35:06 AM.  (I have put a web component in the previous line to automatically insert the date and time when I save revisions to the page.)  Look on the page to see whether it lists a publication and revision date and cite those.  Even if dates are provided, also always indicate the date on which you viewed it.

Location:  The last piece of information required is a durable URL, or supply the name and URL of the search portal you used to locate the page (e.g., EbscoHost or InfoTrack).  If you don't know the difference between temporary and durable URLs, click here.

        So how would you format documentation of this web page in your paper if you cited it as a source?