A note about electronic citations

This is a very new area of bibliographic style, so hard and fast rules are being developed still.

For an e–mail message that you cite, it is relatively easy: cite it as you would a pers com ("personal communication"), with the person’s surname, other names or organisation’s name, followed by the date and the subject or heading on the message. Here are some examples:

McCall, Grant. 21.02.99. "Message to student". Personal communication (e–mail).

South Pacific Commission. 01.02.99. "Island populations". Personal communication (e–mail).

For something from a website, the situation is even more imperative that you cite the exact date you obtained the information. Websites can change at any time; they are not like fixed, print publications. You should have the name of the person (Last name, other names) or organisation, the exact date you obtained the information and the exact URL (Uniform Resource Locator) or "address" for that section of the page you accessed. So, if you copied information from the fisheries section of the South Pacific Commission, use the specific URL for that part. The easiest citation would be something like this:

Centre for South Pacific Studies. 01.03.99. General Site and Guest Information. http://www.arts.unsw.edu.au/Centres/Southpacific/Homepage.html

Centre for South Pacific Studies. 05.03.99. Links to other Pacific Island sites. http://www.arts.unsw.edu.au/Centres/Southpacific/Links.html

Tom’s Pacific Page. 28.10.98. Everything about islands in the Pacific Ocean and surrounding countries. http://www.uni-sb.de/z-einr/ub/tom/pacific.html

A very comprehensive discussion of referencing electronic sources may be found at:

Spennemann, Dirk H.R. (1995)

Guide to referencing on-line material. Johnstone Centre of Parks, Recreation

and Heritage, Charles Sturt University, Albury, NSW, Australia. Document


Closely linked to Spennemann’s 1995 recommendations is the reference style of the following magazine, whose style section may be consulted:

Computer-Mediated Communications Magazine (1995)

Style Guidelines. Computer-Mediated Communications Magazine.


The (American) Modern Language Association (MLA) has long been a source of information on writing style for academic purposes. Their recommendations cover all forms of electronic communications (at 15 February 1997) and may be consulted at:




Top | Next