How to Cite an Entire Website: MLA, APA, and Chicago Style
With the internet granting every user access to various sources, you might find that you used an entire website in your research. As with any source in your research paper you have to cite where your information came from, and this rule applies to websites as well.
Three of the most popular style guides are MLA, APA, and Chicago Style, but the format for website citations differs with each style. Make sure to keep notes or bookmark the website you used so you can pull information for your reference list.
When to Cite an Entire Website
You need citations for all information in a research paper that isn’t your original idea. If you paraphrase or summarize data, you need a listing on your works cited page. You also need an in-text citation so the reader can find the information themselves.
References and citations are even more crucial when using a direct quote. Writers who have made up fake quotes before faced career-ending consequences. Even if you’re only writing a paper for a class grade, you want to be professional. You should always have proof of a quote or data used in your work.
Failing to cite where you get information is plagiarism. You’re passing off someone else’s work as your own, which is unethical. Your teacher would most likely give you a failing grade, or your boss might reconsider your position. If you were submitting that paper to an academic journal, you’d get in trouble and possibly be unable to publish professionally.
As long as you’re citing other people’s work, ideas, and quotes, you don’t have to worry about plagiarism. You should always put information into your own words, too. If you’re not sure about the quality of your paper, run it through Quetext’s plagiarism checker.
This tool on the Quetext website takes your paper through a deep search, looking for similar sentences in the work of other individuals. You can then see your plagiarism score and correct anything that needs rewording. Quetext also works for teachers and companies checking for authenticity in their students’ and writers’ work.
Using Quetext makes the work easier, but you should still learn how to cite an entire website. Below you’ll find citation examples for all three of these popular style guides.
How to Cite an Entire Website
Knowing how to cite an entire website gives you a strong foundation of knowledge for your research paper. You can look for sources knowing if it’s going to be simple to make a reference list. Using a whole website is an easy way to find a lot of reliable information without having to cite each individual webpage. Citing the website will also protect you from plagiarism.
When you cite an entire website, make a note of the date you accessed it. Webpages are often updated, so some citation styles ask for the date of website creation. You might also include when someone last updated it and your retrieval date. This detail will help clarify the information you use in your paper if the webpage’s author later goes back and changes the original source.
Because it’s so easy for websites to update and change information, you should keep a copy of the site you accessed. Sometimes it’s possible to view a cached version or find the information on the Wayback Machine. Keeping personal copies will ensure you have proof of your source, even if the site is taken down or changed.
You don’t have to print out copies of an entire website. That defeats the purpose of using internet access to streamline the research process. Instead, you might choose to take screenshots of relevant information or save the page as a PDF.
The Modern Language Association created the MLA format, which is a style guide used in the humanities. You’ll most likely use MLA when you’re writing papers for cultural studies and language arts.
MLA Style Citation for an Entire Website
Citing an entire website in MLA format requires the same type of information you’d need if you were citing a book or journal article. Those details include:
- title of the website
- name of the organization or container
- publisher, if applicable
- publication date
- URL or DOI
In some cases, you might need or want to add the date you accessed the material. Having a specific date of retrieval helps if you’re using data that might get updated or changed when new information comes out.
Start with the author’s last name, then the first name. Put the title of the website in italics. Next comes the organization, publisher, or container, if necessary. The publication date is in day month year order, with the months using abbreviations. Last is the web address or DOI. Here is an example of citing a webpage in MLA format:
Reporter, Ann. NewsSite. NewsOrganization. 13 May 2020, http://www.newssite.com.
Websites with two authors list each author. List the original author with the last name first, but the second is in regular order. For example:
Reporter, Ann and Ron Wisconsin. NewsSite. NewsOrganization. 13 May 2020, http://www.newssite.com.
A website with three or more authors goes back to just listing one author by name. The others are together under “et al.” The reader can then look up the webpage by the first author’s name and URL to get the other names. For example:
Reporter, Ann, et al. NewsSite. NewsOrganization. 13 May 2020, http://www.newssite.com.
Some websites don’t have all this information, but you still need to cite them. Give as much information as you can. If there is no webpage author, start with the page’s title in quotation marks. Here is an example:
“News Article.” NewsSite, NewsOrganization, 13 May 2020, http://www.newssite.com.
MLA Style In-text Citation for an Entire Website
A parenthetical citation is a way to reference a source in MLA format. For a citation with an author name, you use the author’s last name in parenthesis: (Reporter).
For a citation with two authors, the in-text citation must name them both. For example: (Reporter and Wisconsin).
For a citation with three or more authors, you use the first author’s last name and “et al.” just as you do in the full citation. For example: (Reporter et al.).
If there is no author, you can use the first word or two of the title. Keep it short and concise. Since the example title is two words, you would cite it as: (“News Article”). For a longer title, you’d use the first word or two, so the reader can still identify the correct reference list entry on your works cited page.
If you’re referencing a specific quote from the webpage, you only add that to the citation if the original source has paragraph numbers. APA style has you count paragraphs yourself, but you don’t do that for MLA. If paragraph numbers are already on the site, abbreviate it to “par.” and add it to your citation. Here is an example where the website has paragraph numbers:
Mayor Arnold said, “I’m behind in the polls” (Reporter, par. 3).
The American Psychological Association created the APA citation style for use in the field of social science. Sample subjects are psychology, sociology, economics, and more. The handbook has details about how to cite sources and create in-text citations. The style guide also specifies formatting for headings and tables commonly used in that type of research work.
APA Style Citation for an Entire Website
Citing an entire website in APA style is very simple—it doesn’t require a citation at all! The style guide asks that you put the URL, or web address in parenthesis after mentioning the site’s title in your sentence. That’s it! Since you name the site in your work and then include the link in the same location, there’s no need to create a more detailed citation. Here is an example of how to cite an entire website in an APA paper:
Many celebrities become trending topics on Twitter when they do something outrageous or newsworthy.
The simplicity only refers to citing an entire website, though. If you’re referencing a certain page on a website, APA style requires you to have more information. Some details you’ll need include:
- author’s name
- date of publication
- name of the website
- URL for the site
As with other APA citations, you start with the author’s last name and only include the first initial separated by a comma. Then put the date of the website’s publication in parenthesis in this order: year, month day.
The title of the webpage comes next in italics. The website name follows as this is the name of the host or company, not the specific page you accessed. Here is an example of a specific page on a website:
Reporter, A. (2020, May 13). News article. NewsSite. http://www.newssite.com/news-article
If the webpage doesn’t have an author, you’d start with the organization’s name or publisher instead. Some pages don’t have a date of publication, in which case you substitute “n.d.” for the date in both of the examples above.
APA Style In-text Citation for an Entire Website
As previously mentioned, there’s no need to create a formal citation for an entire website. It might seem like putting the site’s URL in parentheses is an in-text citation, but it isn’t. This detail clarifies for the reader the specific website the author is referencing.
If you’re referencing a specific page on the site, you will need a text citation. An example of an APA in-text citation for a particular webpage is (Reporter, 2020).
If you’re quoting something from the webpage, it might seem difficult to pinpoint where you got the information. You use page numbers when referencing a book or journal article in the text of your paper. For a website, you’ll count paragraphs. You can use abbreviations to keep the citation from going too long when you include the paragraph numbers. Here is an example of a quote and in-text citation:
Mayor Arnold said, “I’m behind in the polls” (Reporter, 2020, para. 3).
If there is no publication date, don’t only use the author’s last name or the organization name in the in-text citation. You still need to mention the date by writing “n.d.” as you did in the full citation. Examples include (Reporter, n.d.) and (NewsSite, n.d.).
Chicago Style formatting and citations are standard in the humanities. Researchers studying history and social sciences default to this style. Depending on your field, you might use either the author-date style or notes-bibliography.
Chicago Style Citation for an Entire Website
The same information from the above citation styles applies to Chicago as well:
- publication date
- webpage title
- website container title
- organization or publisher of the site
For author-date citations, use the author’s last name and first name, then the year of publication. The webpage title is in quotation marks followed by the website title or publisher, if applicable. The URL is at the end. Here is an example of an entire website in Chicago Style:
Reporter, Ann. 2020. “NewsSite.” NewsOrganization. http://www.newssite.com.
If there is no author given, you start with the container or publisher name. For example:
NewsOrganization. 2020. “NewsSite.” http://www.newssite.com.
Similarly, if no date is available, you still need to cite the source with as much information as you can. Here’s an example:
Reporter, Ann. n.d. “NewsSite.” NewsOrganization. Accessed May 15, 2020. http://www.newssite.com.
For notes-bibliography, you use much of the same information in a different order. You leave out the container or publisher, and the only date needed is when you accessed it. For example:
Reporter, Ann. “NewsSite.” Accessed May 15, 2020. http://www.newssite.com.
When there isn’t an author, you use the container or publisher instead. For example:
NewsOrganization. “NewsSite.” Accessed May 15, 2020. http://www.newssite.com.
Chicago Style In-text Citation for an Entire Website
The author-date style uses in-text citations similar to MLA and APA formats. You pull the author’s last name and the date. For example: (Reporter 2020).
The notes-bibliography style uses endnotes instead of in-text citations. Number the endnotes and include the full citation at the bottom of the page. After using the full citation the first time, you can use a shorter version. This form usually includes the author’s last name and the webpage title in quotation marks.
Citing Different Types of Websites
The format for citations differs when you look at different types of websites. FAQs often have their own page and title that you would specify instead of naming the entire site. Journal articles have strict guidelines because you need to mention the volume and issue number.
A YouTube video is similar to a movie citation, but it’s marked as an online video in square brackets for APA style. Include the container as “YouTube” in MLA style. In Chicago Style, you would only know the information is from YouTube based on the URL.
Social media has different citation methods as well. MLA has you type out the screen name and put the handle in square brackets. APA style asks you to find the person’s real name in addition to their social media username. Chicago Style doesn’t ask for any of that. How you format entries also depends on the social media platform and how much information you can access about the user. There are many different details to compile when you’re using social media for research citations.
Cite Your Source Automatically
Knowing the different formats for MLA, APA, and Chicago Style will help you compile your reference page. But this type of work is very tedious, and it’s easy to make mistakes. Each instance of punctuation matters. You also have to format your paper exactly with double-spacing and hanging indents.
Instead of taking the time to stick to the details of each citation style guide, use the Quetext citation generator. This tool will cite your source automatically while checking for plagiarism. It makes the work of drafting a research paper much easier for you. You’re free to focus on the actual writing because you can trust Quetext to do the nitty-gritty detailed work for you.