The basic citation format for a website is the same as for other sources in APA referencing, requiring you to give the surname of the author and a year of publication in parentheses. For example:
Species type does not explain moral considerability (Gruen, 2017).
This is all you need for citing a website as a whole in APA style. But you may need to provide a pinpoint citation if you are quoting a source directly or if you want to direct readers toward a particular part of the text. We look at how to do this next.
Quoting a Website without Page Numbers
The main difference between a website and a book is that a website won’t have page numbers. For webpages with little text, you may not need a pinpoint citation (even if you are quoting a source directly). However, for longer or more complex webpages, you will need to provide a section title and/or paragraph number.
For shorter, simpler texts, a paragraph number alone should be fine:
In his summary of the issue, Gruen (2017) writes that moral considerability is like showing up “on a moral radar screen” (para. 1).
For texts divided into multiple sections, provide a section title:
Speciesism is defined as “favoring one’s own species, while exploiting or harming members of other species’ (Gruen, 2017, Speciesism).
Here, for example, we’re citing a section titled “Speciesism.”
If the section title is too long or complex to fit easily into a citation, you can shorten it. For instance, if we were quoting from a section titled “Alternative Perspectives on Human Relations to Other Animals,” we could do so as follows:
Gruen (2017) also claims that “the task of arguing that humans have a unique and exclusive moral status is rather difficult” (Alternative perspectives).
Finally, if the subsections in a document are also quite long, you might want to combine the approaches above and cite a section title and paragraph number:
He argues that utilitarians “are not making unreasonable predictions” in terms of its impact (Gruen, 2017, Moral significance, para. 5).
The key is picking the citation style that will help your readers most.
Missing Dates of Publication
An issue that may arise when citing online sources is when a webpage doesn’t have a named author or a date of publication. When this information is missing, you can use “n.d.” (meaning “no date”) in place of a date and an organizational name in place of an author’s name:
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There have been recent legal challenges regarding the rights of animals (Nonhuman Rights Project, n.d.).
If you can’t find a suitable organization name either, however, you can use a shortened title for the webpage instead:
The project challenges legal precedent on animal welfare using recent scientific evidence (“Q&A,” n.d.).
Remember to check carefully before omitting a name or date, though, as most websites will include these somewhere.
Websites in an APA Reference List
In an APA reference list, list websites with the following information:
Author Surname, Initial(s). (Year and date of publication). Title of page. Name of site. http://www.URL.com
For the date of publication, try to be as specific as possible. Ideally, this will include a year, month, and date. But you can omit the date and/or month if these are unavailable. In addition, APA uses a sentence case format for titles in reference lists, so only the first words of titles and subtitles are capitalised.
In practice, then, a reference for a website would look something like this:
Gruen, L. (2017, August 23). The moral status of animals. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-animal/
When a website has no named author, you can use an organization or site name in the reference. For instance:
Nonhuman Rights Project (n.d.). Q&A about the nonhuman rights project. http://www.nonhumanrightsproject.org/qa-about-the-nonhuman-rights-project/
As with citations, if no author or organization name is available, use the title in its place. However, always give the full title in the reference list:
Q&A about the nonhuman rights project (n.d.). http://www.nonhumanrightsproject.org/qa-about-the-nonhuman-rights-project/
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