Finding publication information on a Web site 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:

Citing a Web site

When you click on Credits, however, the author’s name is given:

Citing a Web site's author in MLA format

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relevant publication details (like the editor of the site), extraneous information (like the city of publication), and out-of-date citation guidance: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 eighth-edition 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 Web site to find all relevant publication facts for a source, but do so with caution: Web sites often provide information unnecessary for documentation. To determine the relevance of information on a Web site, apply extra scrutiny and assess it carefully alongside your knowledge of the MLA core elements.

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Angela Gibson

Angela Gibson is the director of scholarly communication at the MLA. She has extensive editorial experience and holds a PhD in Middle English from the University of Rochester. Before coming to the MLA, she taught college courses in writing and literature.