How to Cite a Website

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When you use research for school or work projects, you need to tell the reader where you got your information from. Search engines and other online database tools are a great place to start the research process to find the information you need. You will need to learn how to cite a website article in order to give proper credit the author of the original material.

But how do you cite a website? There are many different citation formats that each have their own rules for how to properly cite a website. Below, we will talk about why you need to cite your sources and give an overview of multiple ways to cite an article that you find on the web.

What is a citation?

A citation is a way for you to show the reader when and where in your essay you borrow information from other sources. The citation lets readers know basic information about your source so that they can find it if they want to learn more.

Citations generally provide:

  • the name of the author
  • the title of the text or work
  • information about the publisher of the work
  • the date that the text or work was published
  • the numbers of pages that you borrowed information from

You will need to use both an in-text citations in the body of your paper and list the reference in full at the end of the paper.


Why do you need to cite a website?

If you borrow an idea or a quote from a website, you will need to cite the web material to show where you have gotten this information from. Citing sources helps you to show the amount of research you have done and makes your paper stronger by using other people’s opinions to back up your own ideas.

If you do not cite the website, then you are plagiarizing someone else’s work. Plagiarism occurs when you take quotes or ideas from another source without giving the source proper credit. Plagiarism is a serious offense both in school and in the workplace, and it can have serious consequences.

Imagine putting thought, time, and effort into your essay only to have someone steal it from you! That’s what you are doing if you do not cite your sources.

When do I need to cite a website?

You need to cite a website anytime you borrow information or quotes from the site.

For instance, cite a website when you:

  • use a quote from the website
  • paraphrase information from the website
  • use an idea that you’ve encountered on the webpage
  • expand on an idea that you’ve found on the page

Even if you do not use the same exact words to express the idea, you will still need to provide a citation for information that you borrow in any way.


How to Cite Website in MLA

The Modern Language Association citation format, or MLA, is a citation style commonly used in the humanities disciplines. At the end of your paper, you will include a “Works Cited” page which shows all of the sources that you’ve used in your paper.

To cite a website in MLA at the end of your paper, you will need to provide the following information:

Author’s Last Name, Authors First Name. “Title of Article.” Title of Website. Publisher Name and Date. Medium. Day Month Year that you accessed material.

Here’s an example for an article from Bob Smith on raising frogs from a website called Frog Friends that was published in August 2010, and we looked at on February 2, 2015:

Smith, Bob. “How to Raise a Frog.” Frog Friends. Frog Friends United, Aug. 2010. Web. 02

Feb. 2015.


If you cannot find the author, leave this part blank, and begin with the article title. If there is no publisher or date published information, you can use n.p. and n.d. in its place. The most up-to-date version of MLA does not require that you include the URL in your citation.


How to Cite Websites in APA

American Psychological Association, or APA format, is used most often in the social sciences. If your instructor has asked you to use APA style, you may be asking yourself, How do I cite a website in APA? It’s a little bit different than MLA, and you will want to make sure that you use the correct citation style so that you don’t lose points on the assignment.

In the “References” list at the end of your paper, you will need to list all of the sources that you have used in your paper. To cite a website in APA, provide the following information:

Author’s Last Name, Author’s first initial. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Website.

Retrieved Month Day, Year, from URL.


Let’s take a look at the “How to Raise a Frog” article from earlier. Citing this website in APA would look like this:

Smith, B. (2010). How to raise a frog. Frog Friends. Retrieved Feb. 2, 2015 from


How to Cite a Website in a Paper

When you are citing a website in your essay, you will need to not only provide the citation at the end of the paper in the “Works Cited” (MLA) or “References” (APA) page, but also in the text of your paper. This way you can show the reader exactly what information you borrowed from each source.

MLA In-text Citations:

To cite a website in MLA in the body of your paper, you will need to provide the author’s name in parenthesis after the borrowed information. If the author’s name is not given, then use the title of the article. Here’s an example of something we might have borrowed from the “How to Raise a Frog” article:

If you’re interested in raising a frog on your own, it can be a “very memorable and enjoyable experience for both you and the frog” (Smith).


Bob Smith says that raising frogs is “very memorable and enjoyable” for both the frog and the person who decides to raise it.

Here, we have used a quote from the website and given Bob Smith credit for this quote. In the first example, we do not mention Smith, so we put his name at the end. In the second example, we mention Smith’s name in the sentence, so we don’t need to place it at the end. You would need to cite the source similarly if you were using a paraphrase by placing Smith’s name at the end of the sentence.


APA In-text Citations:

For APA, citing a source in the body of your paper requires that you use both the author’s last name and the date in the sentence. Here are two example of how we could cite the information:

If you’re interested in raising a frog on your own, it can be a very memorable and enjoyable experience for both you and the frog” (Smith, 2010).


According to Smith (2010), raising a frog can be “a memorable and enjoyable experience for both you and the frog.”

In both examples, we mention the author and the year – the only difference is where this information appears. When citing a source in-text, the year of publication should come directly after the author’s name, whether that appears in the text of your sentence or at the end of the sentence.


A Note on Citation Style

There are many types of citation formats in addition to MLA and APA. The type of citation style that you use will depend on a number of things. Different subjects and disciplines use different citation formats, and instructors will usually have a preference on what style they would like you to use. If you’re not sure which format to use, look at your syllabus or ask your instructor. If the paper is for work, ask your boss which citation format is appropriate.

No matter which citation style you use, it’s important that you give credit to the author of the original text that you borrowed the information, quotes, or ideas from. The author has worked hard to put the information together, just like you have worked hard on your research paper. It’s only fair that you give them credit for their words and thoughts by including a proper citation in your paper that points the reader to the original source.

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