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How to Cite a Report From the Internet


The Modern Language Association, or MLA, and the American Psychological Association, or APA, provide guidelines for writers to format a citation according to its medium. A citation for an academic report, like a thesis, dissertation, or research paper, should include the name of the database or website where you accessed the report. In contrast, a citation for a report in an academic journal or popular periodical should include the name of the publication. Both MLA and APA outline clear, concise citation formats for academic and periodical-based reports.

MLA: Citing a Thesis, Dissertation or Research Paper

Enter the author’s last name, a comma, a space, his first name and a period. Make an open quotation mark then type the name of the article in title case: capitalize the first letters of the first word, last word, first word after a colon (if any), and any other word that is not an article of preposition. Place a period and close quotation mark at the end. Enter a descriptive label for the source. Type “MA thesis” or “MS thesis” for a Master’s thesis; type “Diss” for a dissertation; type “Res. paper” for research papers. Place a period at the end of the source label. Enter the name of the author's school. Add a comma and a space. Type the year in which the author wrote the paper followed by a period. If you accessed the paper through a database, enter the database name and a period. Identify the medium of all database and site-based sources by typing “Web.” Conclude the entry with the date on which you accessed the paper. Enter it in day-month-year format. Abbreviate the month and add a period after the year. The seventh edition of the MLA handbook does not require you to include a URL, but many professors ask students to include web addresses. If you must include the URL place it after the access date. Make an open angle bracket, paste the URL, then add a close angle bracket. For example:

Adams, John Quincy. “Why We Needed the First Ten Amendments.” MA thesis. Harvard University, 1790. ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Database. Web. 1 Apr. 2013. <http://proquestk12.com/adamsjq/1790/harvardthesis/>

MLA: Citing a Journal or Periodical

Enter the author’s last name, a comma, a space, his first name and a period. Make an open quotation mark then type the name of the article in title case. Place a period and close quotation mark at the end. Enter the name of the periodical in italicized title case. Leave a space. Add the volume number, a period then the issue number. Leave another space and make an open parenthesis. Note the year of publication. Then, enter a close parenthesis, a colon and a space. Type the page range followed by a period. If it did not have page numbers, enter the abbreviation “n. pag.” Identify the medium by typing “Web.” Conclude the entry with the access date in day-month-year format. Abbreviate the month and add a period after the year. If you must include the URL place it after the access date. Make an open angle bracket, paste the URL, then add a close angle bracket. For example:

Madison, James. “Federalists: An Argument for the Bill of Rights.” Founding Fathers Quarterly (italicized) 3.3 (1789): n. pag. Web. 1 Apr. 2013. <http://foundersquarterly.com/3/3/madison/>

APA: Citing a Thesis, Dissertation or Academic Paper

Enter the author’s last name, a comma, a space, his first initial and a period. Make an open parenthesis and type the year of publication. Add a close parenthesis and a period. Type the title of the paper in italicized sentence case: only capitalize the first letters of the first word, last word, first word after a colon (if any), and proper nouns. Place a period at the end. Type “Retrieved from” then note your online source. If you accessed the paper on the open Internet, paste the URL. If you accessed the paper through a database, type the name of the database, a period and a space. Then, parenthetically cite the identification number that the database uses for the file. For example:

Adams, J. Q. (1790) Why we need the first ten amendments (italicized). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Database. (AAT 07111767)

APA: Citing a Journal or Periodical

Enter the author’s last name, a comma, a space, his first initial and a period. Make an open parenthesis and type the year of publication. Add a close parenthesis and a period. Type the title of the article in sentence case followed by a period. Enter the name of the journal or periodical in italicized title case. Add a comma and a space. Enter the volume number, an open parenthesis, the issue number, a close parenthesis and a comma. Italicize the volume number but not the issue number. Leave a space then note the page range. Add a period. If it did not have page numbers, enter the abbreviation “n. pag.” Enter the DOI or URL. The sixth edition of the APA manual encourages writers to give the DOI rather than the URL, but citing the URL is acceptable if the article does not have a DOI. Include the prefix “doi:” or “http://dx.doi.org/“ before the DOI, according to how it appears on the source. Alternatively, if you are citing a web address, type “Retrieved from” before pasting the URL. For example:

Madison, J. (1789). Federalists: An argument for the Bill of Rights. Founding Fathers Quarterly (italicized), 3 (italicized)(3), n. pag. Retrieved from http://foundersquarterly.com/3/3/madison/

About the Author

Grace Riley has been a writer and photographer since 2005, with work appearing in magazines and newspapers such as the "Arkansas Democrat-Gazette." She has also worked as a school teacher and in public relations and polling analysis for political campaigns. Riley holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in American studies, political science and history, all from the University of Arkansas.

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