Wednesday, April 04, 2007

How does one cite a blog post in APA style?

Citing a blog post in APA style

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 25 May 2010: APA's amended 6th edition example slightly better...

But it needs more explanation, particularly as there are likely to be cases where following their example could lead to the source becoming lost for lack of information. With corrections to the first printing of the 6th edition, APA have corrected faults in their earlier example of citing a blog post, and included an example for citing a comment to a blog post (APA, c2010, in pdf sorry, p. 6). Unfortunately three factors are still missing without explanation:
  1. Blog title. For the post, and comment from it, that have been chosen for examples, the blog title is contained the URL - however it must be remembered that not all blogs are hosted such that their titles show in the URL, and that sometimes blogs are moved. In such cases the title of the blog in which the post appeared might make it easier for other researchers to find the post (or comment) if the blog is moved after you have cited it. While in many cases author and post title might be sufficient, authors do write in different blogs, and over time might conceivably use the same post title in two or more different places.
    *By default I would encourage people to provide the Blog Title unless it would only duplicate information contained elsewhere in the reference (such as for this blog, where my name as author is the same as the blog's title).
  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 28 April 2009: a.k.a screen-name

For my original post I could not find a word from APA on how to cite an author who uses a screen-name. Apparently since the 2007 update we are to use the author's real name if it is available, but if not then to use the screen-name as given (APA, 2007, p23).

Is this consistent with the APA style principle to provide enough information for the reader to find the source? Land (1998) proposed inclusion of an [a.k.a screen-name] sub-element... which would allow the source-checker to properly identify the item written under a screen-name. I'd prefer something like [as: screen-name] because it indicates how the author named themselves in the cited instance. To me "also known as" confusingly suggests that the author identified themselves by their real name when they are potentially better known by their screen-name. I'm curious how an [a.k.a] or [as: ] author sub-element might be handled by automated referencing tools.

Update 10 April 2009: APA's faulty example

See more recent update above. I have since discovered that APA (2007) has published a revised and updated version of section 4.16 (Electronic References). APA's example for a weblog post is a fail... for a start their citation is for a comment to a post, not to the post itself... In a new post I'll explain and encourage APA to edit their new guide as soon as possible. I encourage people citing blogs to use APA principles and guidelines rather than the failed if an example might be insufficient.

Original post 4 April 2007:

Clancy (2003) proposed one method for citing a blog post:
Vaidhyanathan, S. (2003). Universities, RIAA, and academic freedom. Siva Vaidhyanathan's weblog. Retrieved April 26, 2003, from /2003_04_23_blogarchive.html#200187673.
which I would only alter so that the publication date is in full, periodical (blog) title appears in italics and the whole thing not end in a period (fullstop):
Vaidhyanathan, S. (2003, April 23). Universities, RIAA, and academic freedom. Siva Vaidhyanathan's weblog. Retrieved April 26, 2003, from /2003_04_23_blogarchive.html#200187673
I'd have commented with my humble opinion to his post but I don't want to register to do so, having never been by Kairosnews before, and only stopping by today via my own google search for answers about referencing blog posts in APA style.
Citing similarly to Clancy is Scheidt [a.k.a prolurkr] (2004):
alan (Nov. 4, 2003). BlogWondering (what the heck is a blog?). BlogShop. Retrieved Nov. 22, 2004 from
It has been a vexing question for me in preparing my TAFE assignments. I have been working on a variety of assumptions:
When the blog has a distinct title I start from the Online periodical form (American Psychological Association [APA], 2001, p. 223):
Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (2000). Title of article. Title of Periodical, xx, xxx-xxx. Retrieved month day, year, from source.
but provide the exact date on the publication (APA, 2001, p. 225; cel4145, 2003,), the title or subject line of the blog post as the article, the name of the blog as the periodical and as most blogs do not have volume or issue numbers xx, xxx-xxx would be omitted. Also, according to the examples (APA, 2001, pp 272-281) and instruction (APA, 2001, p. 231) the citation would, after the source being a URL, not end in a full-stop (period, dot).
For example:
Shirky, C. (2005, January 27). Folksonomies + controlled vocabularies. MANY 2 MANY. Retrieved 14 March, 2007, from
The issue of volumes and issues does remind me of situations where blogs have moved from one place to another and the original site may stay up indefinitely. If one has referenced either site that shouldn't be a problem I guess. What if the whole blog is not moved, that is, what if the first few years of the blog remain in the first place, and the new place only contains from the moving date on? Then I guess that whichever I reference, so long as I do so precisely, will remain relevant.
When the blog is more a tool within a larger website (and doesn't have a clearly designated title) I've started with the online document form (APA, 2001, p. 223):
Author, A. A. (2000). Title of work. Retrieved month day, year, from source.
using subject line of the blog post for the title of the work, and giving name of the organisation (APA, 2001, p. 274) and section of their website in case the URL becomes irrelevant if the organisation restructures their website.
For example:
Blyberg, J. (2007). New website enhancements. Retrieved 22 January, 2007 from Ann Arbor District Library, Library News weblog:
It looks like I've followed instructions without realising it, because I've just discovered the instruction to look over the general forms and follow the format of the example most like my source and when in doubt "provide more information rather than less" (APA, 2001, p. 232).


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

cel4145. (2003, April 27). Comment posted to blog post by Clancy. (2003, April 26). How do you cite a blog post in your bibliography? Kairosnews. Retrieved 3 April, 2007, from

Clancy. (2003, April 26). How do you cite a blog post in your bibliography? Kairosnews. Retrieved 3 April, 2007, from

Land, T. [a.k.a Beads] (1998, October 15). Web Extension to American Psychological Association Style (WEAPAS) (Rev. 1.6). Retrieved 10 April, 2009, from
Scheidt, L. [a.k.a. prolurkr] (2004, December 12). Blog citation when found in an intervening blog. Professional-Lurker: Comments by an academic in cyberspace. Retrieved 4 April, 2007, from


  1. Thanks for looking into this and posting about it. I have a fairly basic question about the citation of blogs and other online sources. All of these citation methods are optimized for printed media - how they spell out the URLs, which is cumbersome and unnecessary in an electronic publication. Do you know if APA ever allows for slightly different rules when the citing publication is online?

  2. One problem with citing the live URL is that the URL may go 404 or it may change (esp blogs!), so the reader sees something else than the citing author.
    A lot of journals and publishers recommend using WebCite ( which allows you to take a snapshot of any URL, and permanently archive it (Internet archive). You can cite the WebCite permalink ( in addition to the cited URL.
    A lot of bloggers are also putting a "WebCite this!" link on their blog (linking to ) so that readers know how to cite the blog.

  3. @morgan
    I don't know whether APA has a different set of standards for online publications. I've only used the APA citation style in this blog post as if it were to be in print as a demonstration and practice.

    Is there an answer in that? Even if we're writing for an online publication, if our writing purpose is academic then might that academic purpose (long-term) be best met by preparing for the possibility that even one reader might choose to print the article?

    What do online publications say? Do they prefer one of the academic styles or a web-modification of an academic style, or a purely web-savvy style?

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. thanks for this post.

    i was wondering though if this is really necessary: "Siva Vaidhyanathan's weblog"? do we have to put the name of the blog owner and append the word, "weblog", or will it suffice to just mention the blog name?


  6. Thanks for the query tin.

    The quick answer is, sure, for any of the posts in authored by Vaidhyanathan himself, the subtitular portion of the title might be considered unnecessary for your reference list entry.

    I included "Siva Vaidhyanathan's weblog" not because it was the blog owner's name or to indicate it was a weblog, but because that phrase appeared in the Titlehead as part of the full Title of that online periodical (which began At that time I had already seen blogs move from one site to another, and sometimes to change names in the process. APA's principle of providing enough information for your readers to find your source was my guide. [As it happens did move after that post was cited, although it did not change its titlehead]. Of course there was a colon in the title, indicating the latter portion could be considered subtitular or explanatory, and if it does not add to the findability of the source one might consider it superfluous, particularly in the case of the cited post which was authored by Vaidyanathan himself.

    I'll have to update my post now, much as I did my post about citing comments to blogs. APA followed up their 6th edition faulty example for citing weblogs with an amended example in their pdf document Corrections to the First Printing of the Publication Manual
    of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition

    Unfortunately the amended example is, without any reasons provided, not consistent with APA's own guidelines or principles. Specifically, the example does not include a blog title AT ALL. Perhaps because the example they chose was from a blog that conveniently contained the blog title in the URL, and the blog they use has not yet moved.

    I point out that as has moved since the example was harvested, the URL now gives a 404. The article title alone was insufficient to find the source. Conveniently in this case article title and author were sufficient. However such may not always be the case.

    Until I dig up an example of a post that would be hard to find without the blog title, I can only hope APA consider the possibility and circumstances of blogs to give a little more explanation in their next edition.

  7. rahul, it is nice to hear that you enjoyed my post. You might like to know that I am not publishing your comment, kind though it was of you to express your appreciation, because the link embedded in your name is a link to site whose URL expresses questionable connotations.



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