Citation Options

There are a number of ways to format your in-text citations for your multimodal project.  The methods that take fullest advantage of writing in a hypertextual space take a bit longer to format, but often result in a better reading experience for your readers.

As you think about how you want to format your citations, please bear in mind the following: although they are often closely related to one another, reference and attribution are neither interchangeable nor reducible to one another.  The former refers readers to another site or source; the latter acknowledges that someone’s prior work and/or ideas have helped inform your own project, an act of attribution meant, in part, to give credit where it is due.

With that in mind, I’ve listed several options you may want to consider when citing outside sources:


I. Basic MLA format

II. Hyperlinking

III. Footnotes / End Notes

IV. Citation Remix



I. Basic MLA format: parenthetical references

The MLA format is certainly the simplest option, as it basically consists of relying on parenthetical notes.  If you decide to go this route, please take a minute to review the basics as usefully explained by the Purdue OWL.

PROS Straightforward, easy for writer to learn & use
CONS A bit clunky for readers; no use of online writing features such as hyperlinks
NOTE Works well for attribution at the end of a sentence; generally not used for inline references

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II. Hyperlinks:

a. Inline References:

As mentioned above, sometimes you may simply want to use refer your reader directly to a source without actually citing that source.  Hyperlinks are, obviously, ideal for such situations.  For example:

“… popular web-based artistic communities like Etsy and deviantART provide relatively hassle-free opportunities for both amateur and professional artists to showcase and sell their work online…”

Compare this to the way one would write the same sentence using conventional MLA style:

“… popular web-based artistic communities like Etsy (www.etsy.com) and deviantART (www.deviantart.com) provide relatively hassle-free opportunities for both amateur and professional artists to showcase and sell their work online…”

It’s important not to bombard your reader with links, so don’t add hyperlinks every time you mention someone or something. For instance, don’t do this:

New media scholars Henry Jenkins, John Hartley and Mark Deuze all consider the participatory potential of the social web to be a crucial asset in shaping digital literacy and building collective intelligence communities.

Use linked references selectively and purposefully — i.e., when you want to encourage readers to consider viewing the site to which you’ve linked.  Doing so signals that you’ve taken the readers’ experience into account and that you want to facilitate the opportunity for them to familiarize themselves with something you’re discussing in your project. Finally, be sure that reference links open in a new window so that readers don’t have to worry about finding their way back to where they were before the clicked on the link.

b. Parenthetical Attribution

Hyperlinks are not always well-suited to parenthetical attribution.  This is because the source you’re citing, obviously, has to have a stable and accessible URL.  e-Books and scholarly articles accessed through a library’s electronic resources should not be linked back to their stable URL, since a reader who is not authorized to use that library’s resources will be unable to view or access the source.  Instead, the citation should direct the reader to the bibliographic entry.  This is more easily and effectively achieved using basic MLA style than hyperlinks.

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III.  Footnotes/End notes
Footnotes and end notes are a great way to minimize the amount of in-text space you have to give to parenthetical citations.  They also solve the problem mentioned above with respect to creating a parenthetical hyperlink for a source without a URL.  In short, they don’t have much of a downside when it comes to citing attributions.  Okay, maybe one down side (for some).

You will need to roll up your sleeves and use the HTML editor in combination with the Visual editor, as this will require working with some code.  Hopefully that will sound more like an incentive to try building footnotes than a reason to fall back on the more staid method of MLzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  🙂

Using footnotes involves using what WordPress refers to as splitting content / page jumps. It’s essentially the same as creating a “next page” or “return to top” link/button.  The only important difference is that you will need to build a return link from each footnote back to the referring page so that your reader can move easily back and forth between the main text and the notes.  To make this work, simply set up a separate page named Footnotes and start generating your citations.  Once they’re finalized, you can begin building the links. To learn more about using the splitting content/page jumps features to set up footnotes, you can refer to this WordPress support page.

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IV. Citation Remix

Unsurprisingly, you may find that the best citation format to use is a combination of the above.  For instance, any time you want to refer readers to a source, hyperlinks will certainly be the most convenient options (both for you and your readers).  In terms of citations for the purpose of attribution, you can choose between footnotes/end notes or MLA-style parenthetical notes that cite a source listed on your Bibliography page.

One advantage of using footnotes/end notes is that because they are essentially hyperlinks, when you cite a specific web, you can simply link the number/marker directly to the page rather than to an internal note, as in the following example:

Among the many problems that result from the lack of a clear legal standard for Fair Use in a digital age is that individual jurists have tremendous discretion when it comes to interpreting (and thereby establishing) differentiates a ‘fair’ use from an ‘infringing’ use.  For instance, blogger Diacritical Schwa describes a 2010 ruling in which a ruling by U.S. district court judge Beryl Howell “may turn out to be one of the most aggressive expansions of existing copyright law” when she upheld the U.S. Copyright Group’s right to file suit against individuals based on merely on the suspicion of illegal downloading.[7]

In this instance, footnote number 7 takes the reader directly to the source rather than to the listing for the source.  Meanwhile, the Bibliography would still list the blog post as a source so as to still provide the full citation for readers.

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