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Citing electronic sources of information


Arrow Printable word version

Data is now available in many formats besides print, and electronic sources of information need the same degree of acknowledgement as print sources. This guide sets out to provide examples of how to cite these electronic sources of information using examples in the Harvard style. All references should include the elements and punctuation given in the examples below. The title of the publication should either be in italics or underlined. The examples given are in italics. As different formats are required by different journals you should always check the "instructions for authors" when arranging references for a paper to be published.

The EndNote reference management system is a good means of systematically formatting references in a particular journal style. Standard copyright law applies equally to electronic sources and any reference to other people's work should be acknowledged with citations in your text and inclusion in your reference list. The universal resource locator (URL) is the address of the web page, e.g. http://www.pml.ac.uk/. You should always include the publishing medium in the reference e.g. [CD-ROM] in your reference.


Individual works

Author/editor surname, Initial. (Year) Title [online].Edition. Place of publication, Publisher. Available from: URL AND/OR DOI. [Accessed date]


Harvey, E. (2000) Copyright Law.[online]. Plymouth, National Marine Biological Library. Available from: http://www.nmbl.ac.uk/copyrightlaw/ [Accessed 5th November 2001]. 

National Marine Biological Library (2001) Guide to electronic resources. [online]. Plymouth, National Marine Biological Library. Available from: http://www.nmbl.ac.uk/library/subjects/eres.html [Accessed 4th July 2001].

  • Date of publication is the date the pages were last updated. If no publication date is given write (No date). 
  • The term [online] in brackets indicates the type of medium. 
  • The accessed date is when you viewed, downloaded or printed the Web page. This statement is necessary to allow for any subsequent changes which may be made to the page or if the page is no longer available. 
  • The term publisher is used here to cover both the traditional idea of publisher of printed sources, as well as organisations responsible for maintaining sites on the Internet. If the place of publication is not stated and cannot be ascertained then leave out. 
  • Often information is put on the Internet by organisations without citing a specific author. In such cases, ascribe authorship to the smallest identifiable organisational unit (this is similar to the standard method of citing works produced by a corporate body) or start with the title. 

Citing electronic journals

Author surname, Initial. (Year) Title of article. Journal title[online], Volume (part), location within the host. Available from:URL [Accessed date]. 

The "location within host" is the equivalent of page numbering used with printed sources. Most journals are in both print & electronic format but if the document does not include pagination an alternative may be used eg date, labelled part, or the the total number of lines, paragraphs or screens. 

Example of an article from a journal available in print and electronic form: 

Creed, J.C.. Capybara (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris Rodentia: Hydrochaeridae): A Mammalian Seagrass Herbivore. Estuaries [online], 27(2), 197. Available from http://estuaries.olemiss.edu/journal/ESTU2004/ESTU2004_27_2_contents.pdf [Accessed 19th November 2004]

Examples of articles from journals only available online: 

Patterson, R.T. et al Holocene Solar Variability and Pelagic Fish Productivity in the NE Pacific Paleontologia Electronica [online] 7(1), June 2004. Available from: http://palaeontologia-electronica.earthsci.carleton.ca//toc.htm [Accessed 25th August 2004]

Peterson, M. (1997) Skills to enhance problem-based learning. Medical Education Online [online], 2,3. Available from:http://www.med-ed-online.org/f0000009.htm#reference [Accessed 4th July 2001]. 

JISCmail/Listserv email lists

  • These discussion lists generate email messages which are sent directly to the subscriber. Many lists will archive the messages sent. 
  • References to these messages should be treated in a similar fashion to journal references; using the list name in place of the journal title and the subject line of the message in place of the article title. 
  • For "Available from" use the email address of the list administrator. These details, together with the author, will appear in the message header. 
Author, (Day Month Year). Subject of message. Discussion list [online]. Available from: JISCmail/Listserv email address [Accessed date]. 


Nott, A.J. (26 Jan 2000) ASFA. BIASLIC [online]. Available from: http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/lists/BIASLIC.html [Accessed 5th July 2001].

Please note that items may only be archived on discussion group servers for up to a year. A local copy could be kept by the recipient, who is giving the citation, but a note should be given to this effect. It is also in your interest to print a copy of potentially temporary sources in case you need to prove a source after it has been deleted/moved/changed. 

Usenet newsgroups/Bulletinboards

Usenet newsgroups allow people with similar interests to read and post messages in a common location on the Internet. 

Author (Day Month Year). Subject heading of message. Newsgroup[online]. Available from: Name of Usenet newsgroup [Access date]. 


Clark, D. & Young, J. (8 June 2001) Substance Misuse resource. Uk.sci.med.nursing [online]. Available from: news:uk.sc.med.nursing [Accessed 5th July 2001]. 

Personal email

If you wish to make reference to personal email messages then the following format is recommended. You should get a sender's permission to quote a message especially if you quote their email address. 

Sender (Sender's Email address) (Day Month Year). Subject of Message. Email to recipient (Recipient's Email address). 


Festonhaugh-Carew, P.D.. (pdfest@mail.co.uk) (28th November 1997) Follow up to your interview. Personal email to Wallace, W. (wall@gromit.co.uk). 


Audiocassettes, CD-ROMs, film, microform, radio broadcasts,television, and videos

When citing one of the above items information about the nature of the item should be given where necessary after the title. Many CD-ROMs, films, videos and broadcasts are the co-operative work of many individuals. These should either be cited with the title as the first element, or if there is an individual with clear responsibility for the intellectual content his name should be used e.g. the director. 


  • Pride and Prejudice. [Video]. (1997) London, BBC. 
  • Encarta 98 Encyclopaedia. [CD-ROM]. (1998) New York, Microsoft Ltd. 
  • Henderson, David. (1985) Reith Lectures. BBC Radio 3 and 4. Nov - Dec 1985. 

Individual items within a programme should be cited as contributions. 

Thatcher, Margaret. (1986) Interview. In: Six O'Clock News.TV, BBC 1. 1986 Jan 29. 18.00hrs