Referencing Style Guide


Guidelines for Specific Parts of a Citation



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Guidelines for Specific Parts of a Citation

Overall guidelines are presented here. The individual sections for the specific formats, e.g., books, serials, etc., should also be consulted for further details of citation.
Author: While there are books and journal articles on the Internet which clearly state the names of the authors, most sites -- particularly homepages -- do not. Do not assume that an individual named as

Webmaster or contact person is the author; he/she most probably is not, especially for homepages produced by large organizations. Some sites will give a name in association with a copyright statement, such as “copyright 1997 by John A. Smith.” It is not safe to assume that this individual is the author, either. If the only personal name given in a site is associated with a copyright statement, use that individual’s name as the publisher. Most sites will display an organization’s name rather than a person’s name. In such cases when the organization appears to be serving as both author and publisher, place the organization in the publisher position. (See this section below.) Regardless, do not use the word “anonymous” in a citation if an author cannot be determined. If a personal author is present, use the last name followed by up to two initials, such as “Smith JA.”


Title: Books on the Internet will usually display clearly identifiable titles, and serials (journals, newspapers, etc.) will have both the title of the article and the title of the journal. Homepages, on the other hand, may display only the name of the organization responsible for the site. If so, this name becomes the title. Some basic rules to follow for identifying wording as a title are: (1) look for what is the most prominent (usually the largest) wording on the screen (2) look for wording followed by a copyright or registered trademark symbol ( © or ™ ) (3) look at the title bar of the Web browser (generally in the top left corner) (4) look for the title in the source code of the document If a title cannot be determined, construct a title by using the first series of words on the screen as a title. Once you have determined the title, its format is dependent on the type of document. For book and serial titles, follow the rules for print publications, capitalizing only the first word and proper nouns. However, an exception is made when special characters or non-standard typographic features are present, in which case the title should approximate the way it appears on the screen; for example “Amazon.com.” Journal titles are generally abbreviated in the same manner that they would be for print resources, e.g., Online Journal of Current Clinical Trials becomes Online J Curr Clin Trials. As with print sources, do not abbreviate journal titles consisting of a single word (e.g., Blood, Lancet). See Appendix B for a list of abbreviations for common English words used in journal titles. For all other types of Internet material, such as homepages and databases, reproduce the title for citation purposes as closely as possible to the wording which appears on the screen, duplicating capitalization, spacing, and punctuation. This may include all capital letters or all lower case letters, capital letters within words, and run-together words. Some examples are: netLibrary and medicinebydesign.
Content/Medium Designators: It is standard practice in a citation to indicate to the user that a publication is not in print format by following the title with a word describing what the specific non-print medium is, i.e., a medium designator. This is to alert the user that special equipment is needed to read it. The appropriate medium designator is placed in brackets. Thus a book on microfilm would have “[microfilm]” following its title. Similarly, “[Internet]” is a medium designator. It is an optional, but recommended, practice to combine a content designator with a medium designator. Content designators indicate the nature of a work. Examples of this combination are “[serial on videocassette]” and “[homepage on the Internet].”
Edition: Most electronic publications, with the exception of books and databases, will not have an edition statement. Some with print counterparts will say “Internet edition.” Other words used to express edition in the electronic world include “version,” “release,” “level,” and “update,” such as “version 5.1" or “third update.” Regardless of the particular wording, any indication of edition should be included in a citation. Occasionally both an edition and a version or release will be given; use both. The words for edition are often abbreviated in a citation, as “ed.” or “vers.” Numbers should be converted to Arabic, such that “third” becomes “3rd” and “first” becomes “1st.,” etc.
Place of Publication: This is defined as the city in which the individual or the organization issuing or

sponsoring the publication resides. In the case of the Internet, the place would be the location of the Web site. This information is usually found at the bottom of a homepage, but may also be at the top of the first screen or at the end of a document. If it is not in one of these locations, it may be obtained from a linkage within the site, usually under a “contact us” or similar link. There are two options if the place cannot be determined from the site: (1) if the city can be reasonably inferred, the city is placed in brackets (for example, Bethesda as the place of publication of a report issued by the National Cancer Institute)

(2) if it is not possible to infer the city, the words “place unknown” are put in brackets. Follow the city by the two-letter state abbreviation in parentheses, e.g., “Bethesda (MD)” or “[Bethesda (MD)]” if inferred. Foreign places are cited as “Frankfurt (Germany)” or “Frankfurt (DE),” the latter using the International Standard Organization two-character country code. State or country information is generally omitted if the place is very well known; thus it is “New York” not “New York (NY)” and “Paris” not “Paris (FR).”
Publisher: The advent of the Internet and other online sources has stretched the definition of “publication” and “publisher.” However, in electronic terms a publisher is defined as the individual or organization which

produces or sponsors the site. As with the place of publication, this information is usually found at the bottom of a homepage, at the top or on a sidebar of the first screen, or the end of a document. The publisher may also be identified by looking for the organization named after a copyright statement, e.g., copyright 1997 by the American Chemical Society. If wording such as “this site is maintained by XYZ Corporation for ABC Organization” appears, ABC Organization is considered the publisher and XYZ the distributor. Publisher information is required in a citation; distributor information may be included as a note.

A publisher name is generally given in a citation as it appears on the screen, with whatever capitalization and punctuation is used. If the title of a site such as a homepage and the name of the organization which sponsors it are the same, it is an option to give the name in an abbreviated form as publisher. For example, if the “University of Maryland” is the title of the homepage, it may be abbreviated to “The University” as publisher. If no publisher can be determined, the words “publisher unknown” are used in the citation, in brackets.
Dates: Because of the volatile nature of electronic publications, there are three dates of importance in citing them: (1) the date the publication was placed on the Internet, or alternatively, was copyrighted

(2) the latest date any update or revision occurred (3) the date the person doing the citing actually saw the publication.


The date of publication should be included in a citation. Unfortunately, some books on the Internet do not display a traditional title page that clearly states the date of publication. When there is no title page: Look for the date at the top, bottom, or sidebar of the first screen or the bottom of the last screen of the book. Look for the date accompanying a copyright statement. For example: copyright 2006 by the American Chemical Society, © 2006 American Medical Association, c2006 Medical College of Wisconsin. If neither a date of publication nor a date of copyright can be found, but a date can be estimated because of material in the site, insert a question mark after the estimated date and place date information in square brackets. If neither a date of publication nor a date of copyright can be found nor can the date be reasonably estimated, use the date of update/revision and/or the date cited.
The date of copyright should be included only if the date of publication is absent or it differs from the date of publication, e.g., 2000, c1998. Note that a copyright date is always preceded by the letter “c.”
If a book is revised or updated between editions, you may find a date of update/revision. Begin with a left square bracket and enter this information, using whatever word for update or revision is given; e.g., “updated and modified.”
Unfortunately, the dates of publication and the dates of any update or revision are often absent from an electronic site, making the third date all the more important—the date you actually saw the book on the Internet, which is called the date of citation. Error correction or other changes to electronic publications may occur between scheduled or advertised updates or revisions and these dates of update/revision may not be known. It is therefore required that the date the electronic publication is actually seen is included in a citation. If a date of update/revision is given, place the date of citation after it and follow both with a right square bracket. If no date of update/revision is given, place the citation date information in square brackets. End date information with a period placed outside the closing bracket.
Dates should be expressed in the format of “year month day.” For the date of publication, an example would be “1995 Jan 3.” For any dates of update or revision and the date of citation, the format may be the same, such as “[updated 1996 Feb 4; cited 1997 Nov 4].” Various words may be found on an Internet site to express the fact that a document has been updated or revised, such as amended, modified, reviewed. Use whatever wording is provided by the site. Note that the dates of update/revision and citation are always placed in brackets. As mentioned above, the date of citation must always be included in a reference.
Location: Location, called pagination in the print world, indicates the exact position of a document such as a journal article within a larger publication, i.e., the journal issue. It is also used to specify the position of a chapter in a book or of a chart or graph which is being cited. This location is usually expressed in terms of page numbers, as “p. 15-22.” While traditional page numbers are often found on the Internet, its nonlinear nature has caused many Internet serial publishers to adopt a document number scheme for an article, either in addition to a volume and/or issue number or as the only numeration. Regardless of how these document numbers are used, they should be placed in a citation in the Location element. For example:

- with a volume and issue Pediatrics 2000 Nov;106(5):e70. [e70 is the document number]

- without a volume or issue Online J Curr Clin Trials 1999:Doc No 134.

Use whatever wording for “document number” is supplied by the serial and abbreviate it according to standard practice. In the first example above, the serial has supplied no wording, simply using the “e” to indicate “electronic.” As an option, an indication of the length of the article may be included after the document number in the Extent element (see below). If this length is not stated within the document itself, it should be placed in brackets:

Pediatrics 2000 Nov;106(5):e70. [about 2 p.].

Online J Curr Clin Trials 1999:Doc No 134. [about 10 paragraphs].

If an Internet document displays neither page numbers nor document numbers, the extent or length of the item (see next element below) being cited should always be included in a citation.
Extent: This is the length of the item being cited, usually expressed by the total number of pages of a print item or the number of minutes of run time for an audiovisual. Although the extent of an item is an optional element in any citation, the length of a document provides useful information for the user. For example, a ten page journal article would be viewed as substantive, whereas a ten page book probably would not.

Many electronic books lack traditional page numbers and homepages are non-linear, often having

innumerable hypertext links. For publications other than homepages, extent is therefore usually shown in terms of the number of screens, lines, paragraphs, or bytes. Alternatively, if an electronic document is printed out, it may be expressed in the traditional number of pages. Unless the length is supplied by the publisher, which sometimes occurs when a list of items with their size is presented to the user for assistance with downloading or when the item being cited is a PDF document, the extent is calculated by the best means possible and placed in brackets, such as [about 5 screens], [10 paragraphs], [about 21 p.], [332K bytes].
Availability Statement: This is the location at which an electronic document may be found, expressed in terms of an FTP, Telnet, or Web address. Some examples include:

Available from: Telnet to dialog.com

Available from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/cbm/dental_caries.html

For Internet addresses, the location displayed by the Web browser is usually the one to use. Sometimes,

however, a site found by a hyperlink may not be addressable directly. It is therefore good practice to verify the address before including it in a citation.
No ending period is used after a URL or other Internet address in a citation unless it concludes with a slash (“/”). This is because the period may interfere with a hyperlink. For example:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/cbm/osteoporosis.html but http://www.nlm.nih.gov/.
Notes: The “notes” part of a citation has no specified format or punctuation and is not required. Its purpose is to give the reader useful information not provided elsewhere in a citation. Examples of the types of information to be included in notes are: any special viewing requirements, such as a particular Web browser, version of a browser, or software (e.g., “Best viewed with Internet Explorer 6.x”); the name and e-mail address of the Webmaster or other contact individual; additional information about the publisher such as the street address; or information about the creation of a publication, such as if it were created for a particular conference or to commemorate an event.

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