Standard Documentation Formats
Standard Documentation Formats - Electronic
Written by Margaret Procter, Writing Support   
Article Index
Standard Documentation Formats
MLA System: Parenthetical Author-Page References (humanities)
Numbered Note
All Pages

Electronic Sources

To refer to sources such as films, DVDs, or Internet documents, follow your chosen system as far as possible in giving author, title, and date, though you may not be able to give the equivalent of publisher or page numbers. You may have to improvise for some details. To confirm the reliability of your source and help your reader find the item, for instance, it may be helpful to name a publishing body (perhaps a professional organization) or to give the title of the entire site. Note that MLA now does not require URLs because they tend to be unreliable as well as unwieldy, and APA advises giving them only where the content of the webpage is likely to change over time.   

For further advice, check the manuals mentioned above for each system.

The following examples show ways to include the necessary information in various citation formats--thus the different types of indentation, and abbreviation. See also the electronic references included on previous screens as examples of the different systems.

e.g. [film on laser disc, listed by director: note in endnote/footnote system]:

7Alfred Hitchcock, dir. Suspicion. Perf. Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine. 1941. Laser disc. Turner, 1995.

e.g. [e-mail message: MLA system, item in Works Cited]: N.B. Medium is not required; include the receiver under the category Other Contributors.

Sills, Paige. "Did It Again!" Received by Margaret Procter,  21 Sept. 2011.

e.g. [e-mail message: APA system, reference in text] N.B. Don't cite personal communications such as email in the reference list of an APA document, because they cannot be consulted by other readers. Just give basic information in your text, like this:

The most recent experiments in walking also use this method (P. Sills, personal communication, Sept. 21, 2011).

e.g. [Web document: MLA system, item in Works Cited] N.B. This entry follows the MLA requirement to provide the URL. The date of access is not required, but you may add it as an optional element if useful to your reader. 

Procter, Margaret. "Standard Documentation Formats." Writing at the University of Toronto,

e.g. [Web document: APA system, item in References list]: APA requires n.d. in parentheses when no publication date is available. The retrieval date and URL help establish the version used, since this is a file that may change over time. .

Procter, M. (n.d.) Effective admissions letters. Retrieved July 11, 2012 from

e.g., [article in print journal read online through database service: MLA system, item in Works Cited list]:

Smith, John. "Renovating Hamlet for Contemporary Audiences." UTQ, vol. 78, no.1, Fall 2009, pp. 960-69. Project Muse, doi: 10.1353/utq.0.0560.

e.g. [article in journal published only online: MLA system, item in Works Cited list]: N.B. No DOI available so URL supplied instead; date of access not required.

Horning, Alice S. "Where to Put the Manicules: A Theory of Expert Reading." Across the Disciplines, vol. 8, no. 2,  6 Oct. 2011,  

e.g. [article in journal published only online, no DOI: APA system, item in References list]:

Horning, A. S. (2011, October 6). Where to put the manicules: A theory of expert reading. Across the Disciplines 8(6). Retrieved June 20, 2012, from

e.g. [posting to newsgroup, numbered-note system, item in References list]:

(1) Sills A. Are blue stragglers still in the running? [online posting] 13 Nov. 2011.