Friday, April 10, 2009

How to cite a blog post comment in APA style?

Citing a comment to a blog post

Update: 5 Dec 2014
While I have closed comments to cut-off the spam, I still want to help puzzle through the query that led you here, so if this post is not enough, you're welcome to ask me through my new blog

Update: 5 May 2010
With corrections to the 6th edition APA have not only cleared up their example of citing a blog post, but added an example for citing a comment to a blog post (APA, c2010, p. 6). The examples are only slightly better with three factors still missing without explanation, and on which I ask your opinion:
  1. Blog title. With the post, and comment from it, that have been chosen for examples, the blog (which remember is a periodical) title does appear in the URL - however it must be remembered that not all blogs are structured to show their titles in the URLs, and that sometimes blogs are moved. Giving the title for a blog as one does for other periodicals makes it easier for other researchers to find the post (or comment) if the blog is moved after you have cited it.
  2. Retrieved date. Blog posts and sometimes blog comments are editable and removable, a retrieval date is advised when our source may be changed.
  3. Precise URL, the comment APA cite was one of a multitude, and I think that commenter did comment more than once on that date, the specific URL to the specific comment would be useful.
Update: 10 April 2009
Leaving my original thoughts intact below, I've just been reflecting on how APA erred in their example reference of a weblog post. As it turns out, that example reference is more likely to be of a comment to a blog post. And if one looks at it that way it is almost good, except that it still does not follow APA's own principles and guidelines.
Take a look (APA, 2007, p. 24) and remember it is a faulty example:
bfy. (2007, January 22). Re: The unfortunate prerequisites and consequences of partitioning your mind. Message posted to
Possibly when this example was accessed by APA neither the comment nor the post had a URL of its own (directing reader as closely as possible to the source). Even if that is the case a retrieval date would be appropriate because although comments often cannot be edited they can be deleted.
APA (2007, p.1) advises us to include the same elements, in the same order as you would for a reference to a fixed-media source and add electronic retrieval information.
Comments to blog posts are a little like letters to the editor in print periodicals, but they are directed to and appear with specific blog posts, somewhat like a message board.
APA's style for messages to a message board or mailing list include both the message subject/thread and the name of the message board or mailing list (APA, 2007, p. 24).
"Smith, S. (2006, January 5). Re: Disputed estimates of IQ [Msg 670]. Message posted to ForensicNetwork electronic mailing list, archived at"
I've finally found an example reference of a letter to the editor in APA style (University of Maryland, 2006).
I also think that it is most helpful to call things what they are... blog post comments are known as comments, not messages.
So I believe my guess of two years ago is still relatively good although I think now it had too much information. Now I would include:
Comment Author, A. (year, month day). Comment subject if given. Comment posted to Title of blog post. Title of blog. Retrieved day month, year, from comment-specific-URL
Thus for APA's citation as it appears today:
bfy. (2007, January 22). [Comment to blogpost: The unfortunate prerequisites and consequences of partitioning your mind]. Pharyngula. Retrieved April 10, 2009, from

Lots of Ifs:
If the comment did not have its own URL then I would keep in mind that sometimes (as for APA's cited blog post) people will comment multiple times particularly when a conversation has been stimulated, so if the commenter made more than one comment in one day a time for the cited comment might be needed for identification.
If the post commented upon did not have its own URL then the date of the original blog post might be required in order to find the post and thus the comment.
If the blog was a multi-author blog whose posts do not have their own URL (does such a blog exist?) then the post author would also be useful for identification.
Original post: 4 April 2007 at 21:30
My immediate thought was that a blog comment is a little like a letter to the editor, for which we would make a square bracket form notation after the article title (APA, 2001, pp. 226-227). However do comments have their own titles? or are they untitled? I think I've seen both, though mostly the latter. Does it bear any similarity to citing an exchange of letters - how is that done?
If there are any online suggestions for this task in APA style, I haven't yet googled it. Jerz (2003) uses such square bracket notation [Weblog comment.] for MLA citations. His solution if the comment does not have its own title is to use its first few words, and in addition cites the blog post title, blog post author; blog title and blog sponsor organisation.
I can't find anything specifically similar in APA, but perhaps it might combine electronic referencing with the style for article in an edited work though the "In" wouldn't really fit. Maybe:
Comment Author which maybe be pseudonym, A. (date of comment). Comment subject if any. [Comment to blog post] I. M. BlogpostAuthor, (date of blog post) Title of blog post. Title of Blog. Retrieved day month, year, from URL
Walker (2003) suggests that it is like citing a posting to an email discussion list although neither of her examples represent APA format for messages posted to electronic mailing lists which is:
Author, A. (year, month day). Message subject. Message posted to Title of electronic mailing list, archived at URL
however if that is converted to context of blog comment it might be:
Author, A. (year, month day). Comment subject if given. Comment posted to Title of blog {? or title of blog post?), archived at URL {or would that be retrieved from?}
That might look a little neater (and briefer) but does it provide enough information? Perhaps if it was expanded with dates and had both blog post title and blog title?
Author, A. (year, month day). Comment subject if given. Comment posted to Title of blog post by blog post author. (blogpost date). In Title of blog. Retrieved day month, year, from URL
I prefer the use of square brackets if the comment has its own title, but if not then: Comment posted to...etc.
Does it need to be mentioned that the URL would be the permalink for the comment if it has one?
How do you, in APA style, cite blog comments?


American Psychological Association. (2001). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, (5th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
American Psychological Association. (2007). APA Style Guide to Electronic References. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
American Psychological Association. (c2010). Corrections to the First Printing of the Publication Manual
of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition (July 2009) [online document]. Retrieved 5 May, 2010 from

Jerz, D. G. (2003, December 11). Citing a weblog comment in MLA style. Jerz's Literacy Weblog. Retrieved 3 April, 2007, from
University of Maryland Libraries. (2006, August). Citing Sources Using the APA Style Manual. Retrieved April 10, 2009, from
Walker, J. (2003, December 13). Citing weblogs. [Comment to blog post] by D. G. Jerz, (2003, December 11) How to cite weblogs and weblog comments in MLA style. Kairosnews. Retrieved 3 April, 2007, from


  1. Thank you for these great posts on citations. As a current graduate student, they are a much needed resource for me.

  2. Very nice and informative article, by the way I am using, to make citations, a very good citation machine. I am sharing this through this great platform with others. And, to check Plagiarism I am using Both are very good websites.
    Best Regards,

  3. I have just allowed an anonymous comment that does not appear to have been published yet. Although the comment is signed, the source is anonymous, and although complimentary it appears to have been made primarily to promote a couple of websites.

    I do not promote either of the sites mentioned by Anonymous. The latter I did not view and the former seemed to be of limited utility although its interface seemed a lot simpler than services like Refworks or Endnote (you enter the data for one source, it says it will format the reference for you to copy), and riddled with spelling errors - giving doubt to its accuracy.

    I have been using Zotero, and have tried Bibme although I have recently heard a recommendation for Mendeley

  4. Very nice and informative article, by the way I am using, to make citations, a very good citation machine. I am sharing this through this great platform with others. And, to check Plagiarism I am using Both are very good websites.
    Best Regards,

  5. I have found to be a good tool for plagiarism. Thank you for the post.

  6. Fabulousness. Thank you. I was looking for a great guide for my class. Keep it up... :)

  7. hahahah anonymous got busted. I have the same problem with post made with automated software. Even without been on the first pages of google spam comments come in great bulk :p

  8. Hi,

    I am a marketing master's degree student at WVU, and I was searching for guidance on how to cite a blog comment in APA syle and found this blog post. Thanks for making the info available. But then I read your example closer and realized that you are probably my kind of person, because you used a Pharyngula example. And if you read Pharyngula, like I do (although I never post), then we would probably get along well. So this is just a tip of my hat to you, fellow Pharyngula friend. See you around the web.


  9. Thanks for this. I will try it and see if my teacher accepts it.

  10. Thanks for this, but do you have any idea how to cite an entire comments section?

    I am looking at them formally so am referring to screen shots with several comments and will have a million citations if I have to cite every comment from every section independently. Do you know if that's a thing?

    Thanks again

    1. You've caught my curiosity Anonymous. It would depend upon the context of use. In what way are you looking at them formally? Why do you wonder if you need to cite every comment - just because they're in the screenshot? How and why are you using (referring to) the screenshots? I hope you will come back and tell me more.

      Meanwhile, taking a stab: are the screenshots merely documentation of your data? Would you compare them to transcripts of interviews, or samples of writing, for example--from which qualitative research might take quotes, but do not link them to the subject that spoke/wrote them? If so, I think the opposite would be relevant, in that one would obscure identity of commenter rather than highlight it.

      If you intend to show the screenshots within your work - would it be relevant to treat it only as an image which in APA style is a Figure? In such a case you would include an explanatory note with the figure(screenshot) and I imagine it would be enough to point to the post or its comments section if the blog/site software addresses comments sections. eg: Comments to {title of post}. Retrieved from URL. Blogger uses #comments at the end of the post address.

      My guest has arrived so if those thoughts don't apply, please send more information.

    2. Thanks for your response, it was very helpful.

      I thought I might have to refer to the whole section because I refer to several posts within the section, to the number of contributors, or to back and forth exchanges between commenters either paraphrased or indirectly.

      I have been handling them as figures and citing them as comments sections from their source pages (which range from Facebook posts to news articles).

      When providing in-text citation should I just reference the figure, and have the citation for the figure attached to the figure, or should I cite the reference to the citation in-text?

      I think there may be cases where it is better to treat them as transcripts and I will obscure the identities as you suggest. I am examining how users create meaning online and am referring to the interface and communications affordances as well as the formal aspects of their content. Part of my argument is that contextual information is integral to how we process digital text so all information including identity portrayals (i.e screen names, profile photos) is relevant, but I think if I reference the images by location and keep them in my appendix as data, treating them that way will work well.

      Thank you very much you have been very helpful!

    3. Thanks for the additional detail Anonymous. It sounds like you have a viable solution. For your discussion to make sense I imagine you will be describing the context in text, so if you have been providing figures then you would refer to the figure. I'm glad you shared your particular instance of needing to cite comments within online fora--it was a wonderful thought exercise for me.



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