‘New age’ electronic sources present a number of formatting challenges for referencing in APA style. Sources such as wikis, social networks, message boards, mobile applications and computer applications are playing a more frequent role in academic research. Each type of electronic source has unique referencing requirements. Up-to-date information on APA electronic referencing is available from APA Style Guide to Electronic References (sixth edition), and on the APA site links: Frequently asked questions about APA style, APA style blog, and Best of the APA style Blog: 2015 edition. The following information should help you to prepare your electronic references in correct APA format.
This page explains:
- Using electronically retrieved resources
- Online discussions
- Streaming video
- Mobile applications (Apps)
Using electronically retrieved resources
The Internet allows you to access information from anywhere, and at any time. However, online information can be in a variety of formats, and the details required for accurate referencing may be missing. Online information, as with print resources, must always be evaluated for relevance, currency, reliability, accuracy and coverage.
Author: Use surname followed by initials, and/or use the screen name. Where no author is available, use the organisation behind the website, or as a last resort, use the title or part of the title. If the author can be identified as an editor (ed.), compiler (comp.) or translator (trans.), place the descriptor in round brackets after the name and before the full stop.
Date: Use exact publication date (year, month day) as recorded on the site or in the archived files. If the site undergoes regular revision, use the most recent update. Use n.d. (no date) where no publication date is available.
Title: Give title of the work in plain text (not italics) using minimal capitalisation. Use italics only for the title of a ‘major work’, such as
Identifier: Write a short format description of the electronic source with the title. Put the identifier in square brackets immediately after the title, followed by a full stop. Begin identifiers with a capital letter.
Source location /address: Use the exact web address for all online sources to ensure that your reader has a clear path to find the resource to which you are referring. If you used an archived version, use the URL of that site. Add a retrieval date (month day, year) to the URL if a source (e.g. message board posts, social media posts, wikis) is likely to change over time: Retrieved May 31, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essay.
Online communities may use Internet tools to write about a variety of topics of interest. Web applications, such as wikis, are ‘crowd sourced’ information resources that have become popular in recent years. Contributors can collaboratively write, add to, modify, and delete content. The structure of a wiki emerges with the contributions; as such, wiki posts are interesting but not always reliable sources of information. The encyclopedia project, Wikipedia, is the most well-known wiki on the web.
APA style requires you to use italics for the title, Wikipedia, because it is considered to be a substantial reference source. However, the titles of all other wikis are written in plain text using minimal capitalisation (capitalise only required words).
Author, A. A. (year, month day). Title of entry. Retrieved month day, year, from Name of the wiki, http://xxxxx
Online discussions: Blogs, forums, newsgroups, networks
People who like to participate in online communities have a variety of options for communicating on topics of interest. Messages can be posted via newsgroups, online forums and discussion groups. Generally, posts are placed in order of time with the most recent post first. They can be the work of an individual or groups. Social networking systems, such as Facebook and Twitter, may integrate individual and group blogs into societal news streams.
APA style requires you to use the real name of the authors. If no real name is available, then use screen names (exactly as written). Use plain text and minimal capitalisation for the titles of all online discussions (including a video blog post) as forums are not considered substantial reference sources. The retrieval date is essential because the site will change over time. Always use the URL of the address of the cited message.
Streaming video (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo)
Streaming media include audio or video content sent in compressed form over the Internet that can be played immediately (e.g. YouTube, which is a video posting web site). With streaming media, the user can play, replay, and fast forward at will, so information in this form can be useful for learning purposes.
APA style requires you to place the name of the person who posted the video in the author position using their real name (if no real name then put the ‘User name’ in the author position without brackets). The ‘poster’ may not be the writer or performer in the video. Video titles are usually written in italics because a video is considered to be a ‘stand-alone’ information source.
Mobile applications (apps)/computer software
Mobile applications (apps) are computer software programs that run on smartphones and tablet computers (e.g. iPhones, iPads) and web browsers (e.g. Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox). Mobile apps have many purposes and may be useful for your studies as they can include reference works (e.g. dictionaries and encyclopedias).
Examples of electronic references
Click to expand:Entry in Wikipedia
Entry in Wikipedia
Academic writing usually requires the use of scholarly works that have been examined and approved by experts in the field. If you do need to use Wikipedia, then follow these rules:
Author: If no author is provided, use the title in the text and in the reference list.
Date: Use (n.d.) if no publication date can be determined
Title: Write In (plain text) Wikipedia (italics).
Address: Include retrieval dates because this source is likely to change over time.
Even in crowd-sourced articles such as “Essay” (n.d.), it is clear that public perceptions about the term “essay” have changed.
Entry from other wikis
Author: author or site name + year, month day
Title: use plain text (not italics)
Address: Retrieved month day, year from the title of the wiki:(colon) + URL
Star Trek fans are informed that marketing strategies include the sale of toy ships in “blind boxes” . . . (Duranium, 2013)
Duranium, D. (2013, October 22). Star treck: Tactics. Retrieved November 3, 2013 from the Star Trek Wiki: Memory Alpha, http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Star_Trek:_Tactics
Online discussions (blogs, forums, newsgroups)
In-text & in References: use author’s real name or use the assigned name.
Author: Use last name followed by initials. If a screen name (nickname or alias) is adopted instead of using a ‘real name’, then use the screen name exactly as it is written (e.g. LibraryNerd).
Title: Use the subject line of the message. Do not italicise and follow with an identifier e.g. [Blog post], [Blog comment], [Online forum comment], [Electronic mailing list message].
Graham (2013) announces that the QuickSmart program for mathematics is finding a new audience . . .
Iamedos (2013) comments that “Dawkins never debates his views on God with a master, only with fools”.
Citing social media: If you paraphrase or quote specific information from any text on social media sites, then you must provide an in-text citation and a reference list entry.
Social media sites are constantly being updated, so these pages may become inaccessible at any time. Unless social media sites are a legitimate part of the required research (acceptable to the lecturer), do not use these sites as sources of information.
Personal communications: For private or friends-only pages, cite the content as a personal communication because it is not retrievable by the reader (e.g. R. Jones, personal communication, October 15, 2013). NO item goes in reference list.
Dates: If you have an approx. date only, use ‘ca.’ (shortened form of ‘circa’ which means ‘around’ or ‘approximately’).
Identifier: The format should be specified e.g. [Facebook note], [Facebook page], [Facebook status update], [Infographic], [Photograph], [Photo of X], [Photo album], [Timeline], [Video file], [Twitter page], [Tweet].
If you can’t find an established identifier, make up your own, but keep it short, simple and consistent with other identifier types.
(a) UNE Library (2013) indicates their involvement with student welfare by supporting . . .
(b) Twitter comments by Abbott (2013) provide growing evidence that the government . . .
(a) UNE Library. (September 26, 2013).Today is national R U OK? Day. R U OK day is all about reminding people to regularly and meaningfully ask are you OK? [Facebook status update]. Retrieved January 28, 2014 from https://www.facebook.com/UNELibrary
(b) Abbott, T. [@ TonyAbbottMHR]. (2013, October 2). An honour to welcome@johnkeypm today – pleased he visited Australia so early in the life of the new government [Twitter post]. Retrieved October 23, 2013 from https://twitter.com/tonyabbottmhr
Name/Author: (person/group who posted the content)
- Generally, use real last name + initials e.g. Brown, L.R. or use the full name of the group e.g. BikeRidersInc
- Facebook: Real name + [Christian name] e.g. Brown, L.R. [Linda]
- Twitter: Real name + [screen name] e.g. Gates, B. [BillGates]
- If there is only a screen name, then use that name e.g. Bonza.
- Provide specific date: year, month day e.g. (2013, October 30)
- If no specific date, provide year only e.g. (2013)
- If no year, provide approx. date with ca. in square brackets e.g. [ca. 2013]
Title + [Identifier]:
- Title: Use the name of page, caption of post or actual content (up to 40 words). Do not italicise the title, except for stand-alone videos and photo albums
- Identifiers: Use words that describe the content form in square brackets next to the title and follow with a full stop, e.g. Lost in thought [Photograph].
- Use retrieval date and URL that would link directly to the content e.g. Retrieved month day, year from URL
- Find the exact URL by clicking the date and time below the post.
Streaming video (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo)
(b) video blog post (vlog)
Title: A stand-alone YouTube video is like a video or movie that is available online. Therefore, the title is italicised.
If a video is posted as part of a blog post or online discussion, it is attached to a larger piece of work. Therefore, like the title of an article in a journal or the title of a chapter in a book, the post’s title is not italicized in the reference.
Identifier: The format should be specified e.g.[Video file], [Streaming video], [Video file and transcript]
(a) Common Craft (2007) considers that blogs provide participatory social benefits for communities.
(b) The identification of the media type is an essential step in referencing correctly in the APA style . . . (Breitenbach, 2011).
(a) Common Craft. (2007, November 29). Blogs in plain English [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NN2I1pWXjXI
(b) Breitenbach, A. (2011, December 29). Citing PsychTHERAPY in APA style [Video file]. Retrieved from http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2011/12/citing-a-streaming-video-database.html
Name/Author: So that the video can be retrieved, the person who posted the video is credited as the author. Use the person’s real name followed by the screen name (exactly as it appears online) in square brackets. If no real name is available, put the screen name in the author position without brackets. For the in-text reference, use only the name that is not in square brackets. If no person is identified as the author, move the title (in italics) into the author position.
Date: Must be the date (year, month day) that the video was posted.
Title & Identifier: For stand-alone videos, use the Title [Description] format with the title in italics and minimal capitalisation. If the video is embedded in another piece of work, do not use italics for the video title.
Address: Use the URL of the video.
Mobile application software (app) or computer software (including downloaded software)
(a) corporate authors
(b) individual authors
(c) entry from a reference work
Do not cite standard office software (e.g. Word, Excel) or programming languages. Provide references only for specialized software.
Software that is downloaded from a web site should provide the software’s version and year when available.
If no version number is available, include the retrieval date. Retrieved month day, year.
Identifier: The format should be specified e.g.[Mobile application software], [Computer software]
There are so many versions. Which version should I cite???
“The bottom line is don’t be concerned that other versions of your source exist or that your source can be found in places other than where you found it. Just remember to Cite What You See, Cite What You Use”
(Advice from Chelsea Lee, APA style Blog)
(a) National Geographic Society. (2011). About 50 Greatest Photographs of National Geographic (Version 1.3) [Mobile application software]. Retrieved from http://www.nationalgeographic.com/apps
(b) Wang, G. (2011). Fluid & Electrolytes (Version 1.3). [Mobile application software]. Retrieved from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details
(c) Augur. (2011). In The Shakespeare Dictionary (Version 1) [Mobile application software]. Retrieved from http://itunes.apple.com
Some general rules to follow:
Name/Author: The ‘rightsholder’ (individual person or company) is regarded as the author. If no author, use the title in the author position.
Hayes, B., Tesar, B., & Zuraw, K. (2003). OTSoft: Optimality Theory Software (Version 2.1) [Software]. Available from http://www.linguistics.ucla.edu/people/hayes/otsoft/
Rightsholder: Dictionary, encyclopedia medical reference
(a) referencing the whole app
(b) referencing an entry from an app (use the word ‘In’)
Date: Must be the year the version you used was released, even though other versions may have been released in different years.
Title & Identifier: Use the Title (Version) [Description] format. The title is written in plain text, but use maximal capitalisation (capital letters for all major words). Quotation marks are used for the app title if used in the text, but NOT in the reference list item.
Address: Should reflect where the reader can download the app. Apps can be available from many places, so just choose one. Include a retrieval date only if you do not have a publication date.