Citing a Website in an Essay — APA and MLA Reference Guide

When you’re building a house, you need to lay a solid foundation first. In the same way, you have to provide reliable factual support for your essay to be relevant and trustworthy. Hence, all your citations and references used are what convinces the reader that what’s written in your paper is true. Of course, any search for reliable and appropriate data requires time, but what simplifies this process today is the Internet. For any researcher, it’s a place with the widest variety of sources.

Apart from printed pieces converted into electronic form, there’s also a vast amount of great articles available exclusively online (i.e., APA style blog, research reports, etc.). But, to use any of the information retrieved from the Internet in your writing, you need to know how to cite a website properly. So, this article will help you learn the basics of Internet source referencing and format the works cited page. But, we’re covering only two styles — APA and MLA — as they are the most common ones.

Note: Examples below are for reference entries only. For in-text citation guidelines, check — How to Cite a Source in an Essay.

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How to Cite a Website in APA

When writing in American Psychological Association style, you’ll need these elements:

  • URL of the page
  • Title (of the page or article)
  • Date when you accessed the website

The following template illustrates the APA style reference page entry:

Author of the citation with first and middle initials. (Date of last update or publication). The source title. Retrieved MM DD, YY, from URL

For example:

Rasmussen, C. (2019, June 26). The Water Future of Earth’s ‘Third Pole.’ Retrieved July 15, 2019, from

Note: Citing web pages in APA doesn’t require single or double quotation marks around the title.

If the publishing date isn’t available, it is possible to omit it. Just use “n.d.” instead of it.

How to Cite a Website in MLA

MLA citation for web pages is slightly different from the previous one, but the essential data you need for the Works Cited list remains the same. Here is additional data you can provide in MLA referencing:

  • Implicated people (not authors but editors, performers, etc.)
  • Full name of the website (in italics)
  • Sponsor or publisher, if any

Note: Including the date of access is especially important if there’s no date information on the website.

Your reference will look like this:

Author’s name with initials. “Article’s whole title.” Website Name, Publisher or sponsor (excluding advertisement), DD MM, YY (published/updated). URL. Accessed DD MM, YY (if no other date is included).

For example:

Hursh, J. “Feminism and what it means in today’s society.” Alligator, March 26, 2019.

Also, in MLA, you can indicate the article’s specific part used in your essay. Pay attention that in this style, quotation marks are required.

These are the basics of how to cite a website in an essay. But even with such simple guidelines, you are ready to refine your reference page!

The list of references

  1. Citation Guide: How to cite Websites — Dixie State University Library
  2. APA Quick Citation Guide — PennState University Libraries
  3. Citing Internet Sources — Yale Poorvu Center of Teaching and Learning

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