Should URLs in a Bibliography be “Live?”

Websites are an increasingly popular source to cite in research papers, as they are easily accessible and contain a breadth of information on a given topic. It can be difficult, however, to understand the nuances of citing a website in your bibliography, and doing so should be treated with care. So, how can you be sure that you are including the correct format of a URL in your reference list? Read on for helpful tips for this scenario that are applicable to some of the most popular citation styles.

How to treat URLs in Harvard Style (Cite Them Right 10th edition):

Harvard referencing style does not have specific rules around including live URLs. It does, however, stress that they are an important part of any online resource citation, and should be included wherever they are appropriate.

(Harvard Cite Them Right 10th edition pg. 43)

How to treat URLs in MLA format:

Like many specifications set forth by the Modern Language Association, linking URLs in a works cited page is optional. It can be helpful for the reader to link back to the original source, especially if you are submitting your paper electronically.

(see the MLA Handbook, 8th edition, pg. 48 for more details).

How to treat URLs in APA format:

In APA, while it is acceptable to include live links in your paper, aesthetics should be taken into consideration. The American Psychological Association that the blue text and the underlining associated with links in many word processing software programs can be distracting to the reader. Above all, they recommend keeping the audience in mind when these types of issues are being tackled as you write your paper.

(see the APA style blog or more information here

How to treat URLs in Chicago format:

The Chicago Manual of Style dictates that the underlining/linking of URLs is generally unnecessary in academic research papers. It strongly recommends checking with your professor to see if they have a preference before handing in your paper.

(see their Q&A section for more info