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After watching Daughter and Hubby attempt to cite web pages in papers written for school, I’ve come to the conclusion that these citation formats, be they MLA or APA or whatnot, feel awkward, mostly because they are merely adaptations of what has been done for print sources. I don’t like them. Period. So I’ve come up with my own web page citation format.

[The Oatmeal] 10 reasons to avoid talking on the phone, by The Oatmeal: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/phone, accessed June 15, 2010.

I use brackets [] to offset the sponsor of the web page, whether it be a business, nonprofit organization, blog title, or news sources (i.e. CNN, MSNBC, etc.). This is followed by the title of the article on the web page. I follow the formatting used by the web page, so if a title uses capital letters within its title, I do that. If not, I don’t. If you want to get fussy, you could bold or italicize the article title, or put quotes around it, but I think most people will understand this is a title.

If you can find the actual author for the article, put that next in line and follow it with a colon. The colon is a nice way to separate the title and author from the URL, which comes next. This should always be underlined, even if it’s going to appear in a print source, because it allows the URL to stand out and it’s standard procedure on the web. Of course, if you’re making the citation online, by all means, make the link live and the color will make it pop. (Your readers will also be able to jump on over to the link to see whether you’re b***sh*tting them.) Follow the URL with a comma and then the date accessed. This latter bit of data is crucial because URLs often disappear from the web, or articles get changed (think Wikipedia). The date accessed also helps you to remember when you wrote whatever you’re writing. End the citation with a period (because it looks nice, of course!).

The point of citations is to credit your writing sources and help people find those sources for their own research. I think my version of citing web pages manages to meet those conditions while also being more elegant than other citation formats. [Truly, I say unto you, it’s the brackets that make it so.] Feel free to adopt my version for your own purposes (i.e. you’re the editor of your own publication and can make up the rules for citation formatting) , but don’t try this format if you have been told that you must use a particular format for school papers or a formal publication that has specific citation demands. Instead, find help for MLA and APA citations here:

[Purdue University] The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL): http://owl.english.purdue.edu/, site accessed June 15, 2010.

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