APA Format for Online Citations

When you are writing a paper, you often include another person’s writings, research or graphics to support your argument. These sources can improve your argument, but you must provide proper citation at the end of your paper. The sixth edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association outlines how to properly cite online resources on your reference page.

APA Basics

Writers, students, educators and editors in social and behavioral-related sciences use the APA style manual. This manual provides style and structural guidelines, including in-text citations, endnotes and footnotes and references.

When you use an Internet source within your paper, the APA manual requires that you include two additional pieces of information in addition to the standard information needed on your reference page.

Stable URL

For online sources, you must list a stable Internet address that directs your reader as close as possible to the referenced work. Many websites feature digital object identifiers, or DOIs. If your source has a DOI, it must be listed in your citation.

A DOI is a unique alphanumeric string assigned by the International DOI Foundation to identify content and provide a persistent Internet location. You can usually locate the DOI on the first page of an article, near the copyright notice. It always begins with the number 10 and then contains a prefix and a suffix separated by a slash.

An example of a DOI is: doi:10.10.1038/nphys1170.

If there is no DOI, use a stable URL. With sources such as a newspaper or database, a stable URL may not be available. In this case, use the home page of the website. To determine if an Internet address is stable, paste the link into the address bar of your browser to verify that it works. If there is no stable URL for a journal or newspaper article, give the URL of the journal or database homepage instead.


When listing an Internet site on your reference page, you should include the date this information was published or the date that you accessed it. If the Web page is a finalized version that features a publication date, such as a journal article, then use this date. If the work does not feature a date or the information is not static, such as an online encyclopedia, use the date that you accessed the information.

Internet Citation Example

With APA format, citations need to feature the author’s name, publication date, article title, journal title, volume number, issue number and page number if applicable. As an example of an Internet journal citation, write the author’s last name, a comma, first initial and a period.

Write the date of print or accessed within parentheses followed by a period. If it is a static publication, format this with just the year. If it is not static, format it with the year, a comma and then the month and date. Abbreviate the month name and write the day in Arabic numerals.

Next, type the title of the article in sentence case followed by a period. Then, type the journal title in italics and title case, followed by a comma, the volume number, the issue number in parentheses if available, a comma, the page number and a period. At the end, write “doi:” followed by the address. There is no need to end with a period.