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Web Archives: Exploring the Digital Past: How to Use and Cite Archived Webpages

How to find, make use of, and create your own web archives!

Citing Archived Websites in Writing

Citation of archived websites is still new territory for most citation styles. However, cited correctly and clearly, the contents of web archives can be valuable sources for many different kinds of research!

In general, citations should be formatted as normal website citations, with information appended at the end to connect your citation to the archived version of the webpage. None of the three major citation styles (MLA, Chicago, APA) have provided official standards for how this should be done. However, we've created sample citation formats for you below, based on a mixture of previously-proposed formats, guidance from web archiving initiatives themselves, and existing guidelines for citing web resources.

Modern Language Association (MLA)

Last, First. Name of Web Page. Name of Website, www.sampleurl.com. Accessed via Archive Name, www.archiveurl.com. Accessed on DD Month YYYY.

This example format was put together based on current standards for MLA webpage citation and guidance given to the Internet Archive via MLA. Recommendations vary. More information can be found here:

Chicago Manual of Style

First Last, Name of Web Page, Name of Website, Publishing Organization, publication date (if available), access date (if available), www.sampleurl. Archived at www.archiveurl.com

There is unfortunately very little guidance of any kind regarding citing archived web pages using Chicago style. This example format is based on existing guidelines for web page citation and adopted elements from example APA formatting, explained more below.

American Psychological Association (APA)

Last, F.M. (YYYY, Month DD). Name of Web Page. Name of Website. Retrieved from www.sampleurl.com. Archived at www.archiveurl.com

This example format was put together based on current standards for APA webpage citation and Robin Camille Davis' "The Future of Web Citation Practices, linked here and in the sidebar.

Some potential research applications:

  • See a what a news site looked like on the day of a major event
  • Uncover past versions of modified government or corporate web pages
  • Examine how a website's interface, content, or organization changed over time
  • Find web content that no longer exists

Further Reading

You cannot step in the same Web twice. - Robin Camille Davis