Temporary and Durable URLs
"URL" is the acronym for "Uniform Resource Locator," the formatting convention Web programmers use to identify specific web pages so that they can be located. Not all URLs are links to permanent web pages. Search portals, like Lexis-Nexis or EbscoHost and many commercial sites, often generate temporary web pages to display the results of searches. Those temporary pages may remain on the host server computer for a minute, or an hour, or a day, but they rarely survive for long. These temporary URLs have a distinctive "spelling," and they are enormously long. This is an example from the news and law search engine, Lexis/Nexis:
Even if your reader were able to retype such a complicated URL, it would not lead back to the page you saw. For such links, you must depend on your readers' ability to return to the same search portal you did, where they can search for the title you have given them. In such cases, the MLA citation format would look like this:
“iPods vs. Wannabes.” Consumer Reports 69.11 (Nov. 2004): 6. Lexis-Nexis. Goucher College Library, Baltimore MD. 27 Jan. 2005 <http://web.lexis-nexis.com>
Some search portals, like JSTOR, offer users "durable URLs" which can be used to send readers directly to the source page. Obviously, this costs the portal server storage space, but serious academic sources often provide this kind of information because their users demand it. Durable URLs always will be identified as such by the provider, though they will look much like the temporary URL above. You must look for the term "stable URL," "durable URL" or "permanent link" to know for certain what you are looking at. This is an example from JSTOR:
How would you cite this in a paper which referred to Milder's article?