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Web Extension to American Psychological Association Style (WEAPAS)

Proposed standard for referencing online documents in scientific publications

(Revision 1.4)

Land, T. [a.k.a Beads] (1996, November 25). Web Extension to American Psychological Association Style (WEAPAS) (Rev. 1.4) [WWW document]. URL

This document proposes an extension of Appendix 3-A (APA, 1994, pp. 189-222), integrating the Internet standard of Uniform Resource Locators (URL) (Graham, 1995), as used on the World Wide Web (WWW, or Web) (W3C, 1995). The extension proposed here is an alternative to the "path statements" suggested for online sources (APA, 1994, p. 218-220; see also Dewey, 1996).

As an alternative to the approach taken here, readers may wish to consult Li & Crane's (1996a, b) "American Psychological Association Embellished Style." Li & Crane also discuss "Modern Language Association (MLA) Embellished Style." Those wishing to use citations tailored to the MLA school may also wish to consult Walker (1995) and Wainwright (1995).

The more generic guide provided by Quinion (1996) offers still another approach, while Ivey (1996) can be read as a review of the points each of these approaches speak to. There is also a summary of ideas for citing electronic texts (e-texts) by Tent (1995), and a short page discussing URLs in biomedical texts by Beckleheimer (1994), available for those who are interested. Also, a very extensive German language text on the same question is available from Bleuel (1995).

This is an evolving standard. This document should be considered under construction. Comments and suggestions are encouraged, and should be sent by electronic mail (e-mail) to the author via

An article on how to craft proper citations and avoid plagiarism: (12-05-04)

The Proposal

Elements of References in WEAPAS Style

Author Variations

World Wide Web documents described as "maintained" should refer to the author with the parenthetical modifier, Maintainer (abbr Maint.), although the more generic Ed. (i.e. Editor) may also be used.

Two special cases of author identifiers are considered under the Web Extension: e-mail addresses and nicknames/handles.

Electronic Mail Address as Author

Nickname or Handle as Author

Date Variations

Because some types of online documents may be updated or modified by their authors' at any time, references to these documents should date the document version used with as much specificity as possible, with the following guidelines:

Visiting Date

Optionally, one may choose to list the date a document was downloaded or viewed online, should there be a concern that the document might expire in the forseeable future. Such dates come at the end of the reference, parenthesized in the form "(visited Year, Month Date)"

Title Variations

Generally the title of an online document should be immediately recognizable. There are some variations to watch out for however.

Types of Documents

There are many different types of documents and services available on the Internet. The nature of a given document should be given in brackets immediately following the title.

An online database other than WAIS.
Digitized image
Graphics file in .gif, .jpg, or some other format.
Digitized sound file
Recorded or sythesized audio file.
Digitized vide file
Film, movie, or animation as an electronic data file.
Electronic data file
Something for which these other descriptors is not entirely appropriate.
FTP archive
Subdirectory within an FTP accessed file system.
Gopher menu
Location in gopher space other than a terminal document node.
On-line news posting
Article in a Usenet or local newsgroup
On-line search query
A database query or similar service accessed by gopher, or via the Web using the GET method.
On-line serial
Periodical distributed by eMail or in another form.
On-line service
Service other than a database, accessible via telnet or other protocols.
PostScript file
File containing instructions for rendering a document on a PostScript printer or other device.
Text file
File containing text which may be read without a special program.
WAIS database
Publicly accessible WAIS.
WAIS query
Results of a search of a WAIS database.
WWW document
An HTML document which must be viewed using a World Wide Web client.

Note that postings to mailing lists (e.g. Listserv, MajorDomo) are not included here. As these documents are not publicly retrievable at a later date, and are seen only by those individuals who are subscribed to the list at the time the message was sent, they should be treated as personal communications.

Publication Information

The Web Extension employs URLs in the publication element of references, under the following conditions:


Unfortunately, I have not yet had the free hours to sit down and write up the extensive examples I had planned. Please be patient. In the meantime, the format of the References, below, should be a good jumping off point.


American Psychological Association (APA) (1994). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (4th ed.). Washington, D. C.: Author.

Beckleheimer, J. (1994). How do you cite URL's in a bibliography? [WWW document]. URL

Bleuel, J. (1995, November 8). Zitieren von Internetquellen ["Citing sources on the internet"]. URL

Dewey, R. (n.d./1996). APA Publication Manual Crib Sheet. Psych Web by Russ Dewey [WWW document]. URL

Graham, I. (n.d./1995). Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) [WWW document]. URL

Ivey, K.C. (1996, September 2). Citing internet sources [WWW document]. URL Also in The Editorial Eye, 19(8), 10-11. Alexandria: EEI.

Li, X., and Crane, N. (1996a, May 20) Bibliographic formats for citing electronic information [WWW document]. URL

Li, X., and Crane, N. (1996b) Electronic styles: A Handbook for citing electronic information. Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc.

Quinion, M. (1996, March 10). Citing online sources. World Wide Words: Michael Quinion on aspects of English [WWW document]. URL

Tent, J. (1995, February 13). Citing e-texts summary. Linguist List, 6(210) [Online serial]. URL

Wainwright, M. (n.d./1995). Citation style for internet sources [WWW document]. URL

Walker, J. R. (1995, April). Walker/ACW style sheet; MLA-style citations of electronic sources [WWW document]. URL

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) (1995, May 15). About the World Wide Web [WWW document]. URL

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This page was last modified 25 November 1996.