While the APA provides clear-cut instructions for citing standard publication types, some business resources have unique elements that make it necessary for us to make an interpretation of the APA rules. Some of the examples provided on this guide are adaptations made by the Bentley Library's Reference Librarians. These decisions were made to enhance the clarity of the citations.
Here a few notes about the APA's rules for citing electronic resources, as well as our advice for following them. More about the APA's guidelines for electronic sources can be found on pages 187 -192 of the Publication Manual, 6th ed., third printing.
Online articles/reports from a library database or from the "free web" that have a DOI assigned:
- APA calls for the use of DOI (Digital Object Identifier) when it is available. DOIs are used by some publishers to provide stable, long-lasting links for online articles. They are unique to their documents and consist of a alphanumeric code. If a publisher of electronic information is using DOIs, you will likely find it printed on the first page of a journal article. When a DOI is used the URL is not required.
Online articles/reports from a library database that don't have a DOI assigned:
- The APA states that it is not necessary to include database information in a citation because journal coverage in a database may change over time. Instead, the APA calls for using the home page URL of the article/report publisher. However, we advise that you cite an article retrieved from a library database the same way you would cite the print version of that article. If the article is easily located, you do not need to include the database URL.
- Database information may be included if the information is difficult to find. As you'll see in the examples we provide, we do recommend including database names for many business resources.
- The APA states that retrieval dates do not need to be included, unless the source material may change over time. Many business databases provide content that changes frequently (e.g. ReferenceUSA company profiles, Morningstar stock quotes, DemographicsNow data). As you see from our examples, we recommend providing retrieval date information for those business databases that provide undated or frequently changing content.
Online articles/reports from the "free web" that do not have DOI assigned:
- Free online magazines, newspapers, newsletters and reports are not likely to have a DOI. In this case, include the publisher's home page URL in the citation.
- The APA states that the reference list entry for a whole eBook should include elements of author, date, title (with e-reader book type in square brackets if applicable; italicize the title but not the bracketed material), and source (URL or DOI). The APA also states that if the book was read or acquired through an online library (e.g., Google Books, ebrary, NetLibrary) and not on an e-reader device, omit the bracketed information from the reference. However, we advise that you cite an eBook the same way that you would cite a print book, unless that eBook is not readily available in print format. Most eBooks retrieved from a library database (e.g. O'Reilly Books, Skillsoft Books, EBSCO eBooks & Overdrive) are readily available in print.
- If an eBook is retrieved from a source other than a library database (a free website), we advise that you follow the standard format and include the eBook source (URL or DOI).