Go back a generation and you’ll find that websites were rarely used as a source for academic essays and papers. Crazy to think about, right? Instead, students relied almost entirely on good old-fashioned paper sources such as textbooks, books and journals.

Of course, now it’s difficult to imagine life without the Internet. And the rise of the smartphone means that we all literally have a world wide web of information at our fingertips, 24/7! This easy-to-access information is super useful for school and life. However, just as with traditional sources, any website you use while researching and writing must be properly referenced. Failure to do this is plagiarism, which, whether accidental or not, can carry strict consequences.

The good news is there’s clear guidance on how you should reference your website sources, depending on which style of citation you’re required to use. APA, MLA and Chicago are three common styles. If you’re unsure which one you should be using, ask your instructor for their preference.

What Information Do I Need?

When researching online, it’s essential that you note the websites you are using as you go—not after when you might forget. It can be very easy to disappear down the Internet rabbit hole and lose track of what information came from where! You could also bookmark important web pages to give yourself an easy online record of your digital sources.

Important note: the Internet contains a wide variety of different types of material that you may need to reference, from articles and blog posts to images and videos. Correctly citing a website will depend on the type of source that you wish to cite. For illustration purposes we’ve used the following article on a website:

  • Author/s name: Janna Anderson and Lee Rainie
  • Article title: The Future of Well-Being in a Tech-Saturated World
  • Website title: Pew Research Center: Internet & Technology
  • Publication date: 17 April 2018
  • Access date: 9 May 2018
  • Website publisher: Pew Research Center
  • URL: http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/04/17/the-future-of-well-being-in-a-tech-saturated-world/

In-Text Citations

In-text citations may also be included in the body of your work to help the reader identify the section that relates to the full citation on your works cited page. These are also known as parenthetical citations, as they’re often enclosed (like this), and MLA refers to them as citations in prose. The format of your in-text citations will vary depending on the citation style you are using.

Let’s take a look at some examples of how to cite a website in MLA, APA and Chicago styles.

How to Cite a Website in APA Style

APA in text citation: (Anderson & Rainie, 2018)

Full citation:

Anderson, J., & Rainie, L. (2018). The future of well-being in a tech-saturated world. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/04/17/the-future-of-well-being-in-a-tech-saturated-world/.

How to Cite a Website in MLA Style

MLA in-text citation: (Anderson and Rainie)

Full citation:

Anderson, Janna, and Lee Rainie. “The Future of Well-Being in a Tech-Saturated World.” Pew Internet, 17 Apr. 2018, www.pewinternet.org/2018/04/17/ the-future-of-well-being-in-a-tech-saturated-world/.

How to Cite a Book in Chicago Style Format (footnote/bibliography style)


Janna Anderson and Lee Rainie, “The Future of Well-Being in a Tech-Saturated World,” Pew Internet, April 17, 2018, accessed May 9, 2018, http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/04/17/the-future-of-well-being-in-a-tech-saturated-world/.


Anderson, Janna, and Lee Rainie. “The Future of Well-Being in a Tech-Saturated World.” Pew Internet, April 17, 2018. Accessed May 9, 2018. http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/04/17/the-future-of-well-being-in-a-tech-saturated-world/.

Don’t disappear down the Internet rabbit hole! Make a note of all the websites you use during your research and use the handy online tool at Cite This For Me to create quick and easy website citations.