Citing Sources Online

When we write papers or speak publicly, we usually understand how to give credit to others. However, sensibilities about plagiarism and intellectual property often disappear when writing online. But, citing sources can be easier and more productive in online media than it would be in any other form. Here are five strategies for citing sources accurately and effectively online:

To give credit for thoughts and ideas:

  • Be “Linky”
    Hyperlinks are excellent because they connect the reader to the original source of the information and they create connections that can improve your readership. For example, the term linky comes from a helpful book by Scoble and Israel. Note two things about this link example: (1) on mouseover, the title tells the reader where the link will go; and (2) the author gets a mention in the link.
To direct readers to further content:

To use direct quotes:

  • Use a blockquote with link
    A blockquote is a visual representation of a direct quote. Use these to signify a source and always include a link to the source before, within, or after the block quote. See an example here. To use a block quote in WordPress, look for this icon:
    blockquote icon on WordPress

To use copies of images or media created by someone else:

  • Embed the image or media so it links back to its source.
    When using an image or video that you did not take with your own camera or create on your computer, cite the source. The easiest way to do this is to embed the image or video. This is different than copying an image and uploading it. WordPress has built-in embedding capabilities for all web-based images, as well as videos found on youtube, vimeo, google and dailymotion. Here’s a primer on how to ensure appropriate citations through embedding with links:

When in doubt, revert to what you know:

  • Use quotation marks followed by a citation.
    You can always use your style of choice (APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard) to cite sources in the same manner you would in a paper. Be sure to include a list of references if you go this route.


  1. […] Appropriate Citation If you’re using a photo for a class project, insert a citation. School libraries have databases of journalistic and government photos that can be used with an appropriate citation. Follow the citation styles for your class and required by the image you choose. But if, you’re using it online, in print, or for profit, things become more tricky. Be sure you know where the image came from and direct your readers to that source. However, most images are protected and, unless the owner specifies otherwise, shouldn’t be used without permission, even with a citation. Read these tips for citation for blogs. […]

What are your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s