Finding publication information on a website or other digital source (like an app) can be a challenge. At last week’s MLA style workshop at the National Council of Teachers of English conference in Saint Louis, the participants and I channeled our inner Miss Marple when looking at examples of downright thorny online works. In the absence of the tried-and-true (and standardized) title page, readers of online works must hunt for publication facts, weed out extraneous information, and interpret neologisms for roles like authors and editors.
We’ll go into more detail about citing online works in our upcoming webinar in January, but for now here’s an example that demonstrates how sleuthing around a site–most notably on “About,” “Credits,” and other informational pages–can unearth relevant publication facts.
In the example below, from the Map of Early Modern London, the author of “Stocks Market” does not appear on the post landing page:
When you click on Credits, however, the author’s name is given:
On the other hand, when you click on Cite This Page, you find a mix of relevant publication details (like the editor of the site), extraneous information (like the city of publication), and out-of-date citation guidance:
The works-cited-list entry for this page in current MLA style would appear as follows:
Takeda, Joey. “Stocks Market.” Map of Early Modern London, edited by Janelle Jenstad, U of Victoria, 15 Mar. 2017, mapoflondon.uvic.ca/STOC1.htm.
In other words, you must often poke around a website to find all relevant publication facts for a source, but do so with caution: websites often provide information unnecessary for documentation. To determine the relevance of information on a website, apply extra scrutiny and assess it carefully alongside your knowledge of the MLA core elements.