Occasionally a student asks how to cite a blog post in an academic paper. It’s fine to cite/quote/refer to this blog and its posts. All the content is copyrighted (by me), but feel free to use it in an academic paper under the Fair Use principle. Find out more about Fair Use here.
After a long career of college teaching, I know there’s a ton of misinformation out there, so here are some useful tips.
- NEVER just grab something off the internet (including from this blog) and stick it in your paper. This is plagiarism.
- Always quote if you are going to take something directly from this blog or any other internet source (or print source, for that matter).
- Even if you paraphrase (put the material into your own words) and don’t quote directly, you still need to cite your source. Otherwise, you’re committing plagiarism. If anyone has told you otherwise, they’re misinformed.
- If I (or any other writer of any other article) refer to outside information, it’s best if you go to MY source rather than take what I’m saying as gospel truth. This is especially important in blog posts such as mine, because we bloggers are not writing in an academic setting and don’t usually observe academic citation rules. That does not exempt us from crediting our sources, though. But the rules for bloggers aren’t as strict as they are for academic writers, so double-check!
- With so much misinformation infecting the internet, make it your mission not to contribute to the plague.
- Different citation styles require you to format your citation in different ways. See below.
TWO POPULAR CITATION STYLES
MLA Format (source: https://nwtc.libanswers.com/faq/212918):
Author or Screen Name. “Title of Blog Post.” Name of Blog, Blog Network/Publisher if given, date of post, URL. Accessed day month year.
Here’s an example:
Lin, Jennifer Marie. “25 Fairytale and Folk Tale Retellings (for Adults).” The Bibliophile, 16 Aug. 2020 (updated 29 Sept. 2020), https://the-bibliophile.com/adult-fairy-tale-and-folk-tale-retellings/. Accessed 24 Feb. 2023.
APA Format (source: https://www.quetext.com/blog/how-to-cite-a-blog-mla-apa-chicago-style NOTE: This source gives citation examples/advice for MLA format, too, as well as another popular citation style, Chicago Manual of Style, plus a lot of great advice about when/how/whether to use a blog in your academic paper)
Author’s last name, first initials, (Date of Blog Post year, month day). Title of the blog post. Blog Name. URL
Here’s the same example, using APA style:
Lin, J. (2020, August 16, updated 2020, September 29). 25 Fairytale and Folk Tale Retellings (for Adults). The Bibliophile. https://the-bibliophile.com/adult-fairy-tale-and-folk-tale-retellings/
HOW TO QUOTE from a blog post or any other source:
If you are simply putting the blog information into your own words, you still need to cite your source.
Here’s an example from the post mentioned above, Jennifer Marie Lin’s “25 Fairytale and Folk Tale Retellings (for Adults)”:
She writes, “Angela Carter was a storytelling sorceress, the literary godmother of Neil Gaiman, David Mitchell, Audrey Niffenegger, J. K. Rowling, Kelly Link, and other contemporary masters of supernatural fiction.”
Suppose you want to use her statement in your own paper. Say you’re writing a paper about J. K. Rowling and want to include Lin’s insight about Angela Carter (the bold-face type is the academic paper-writer’s language):
Rowling’s tales have literary precedents. The writer Angela Carter may be one of her inspirations.
This is Jennifer Marie Lin’s opinion, not your own, so footnote that and cite it using one of the citation styles. Even so, it’s a bit misleading. You might want to go with some of the other choices (see below).
Rowling’s tales have literary precedents. One blogger regards the writer Angela Carter as one of her inspirations.
Now you’ve mentioned some unnamed blogger, but in this version, footnote it and cite it, so your readers will know who that blogger is–and if your own reader wants to confirm what you say, she can go to your source.
Rowling’s tales have literary precedents. One blogger, for example, calls the writer Angela Carter the “literary godmother” of Rowling.
Here you’ve directly used Lin’s language, so you put that part in quotation marks within your own sentence, and then you footnote it and cite it.
Rowling’s tales have literary precedents. The blogger Jennifer Marie Lin writes, “Angela Carter was a storytelling sorceress, the literary godmother of Neil Gaiman, David Mitchell, Audrey Niffenegger, J. K. Rowling, Kelly Link, and other contemporary masters of supernatural fiction.” There you’ve used the entire quotation from Lin. Again, footnote and cite it.
Rowling’s tales have literary precedents. The blogger Jennifer Marie Lin writes, “Angela Carter was a storytelling sorceress, the literary godmother of . . . J. K. Rowling.” In this example, you’ve used only part of the quotation. The ellipses (the three dots) show where you have omitted material so your reader is on alert to look at the original quotation if she wants to know more.
Rowling’s tales have literary precedents. The blogger Jennifer Marie Lin writes, “Angela Carter was a storytelling sorceress, the literary godmother of . . . J. K. Rowling, . . . and other contemporary masters of supernatural fiction.” This example does the same, but it’s better because it’s less misleading. You’re alerting the reader that Lin’s blog post covers other authors, not just Rowling. Again, footnote and cite.
I say “footnote,” but the use of footnotes, end notes, and in-line citations is an entirely different matter. Find out more here. You can’t go wrong using the Purdue Owl advice!
CONSIDER THIS: Lin herself is not footnoting her opinion that Angela Carter may have inspired all those fantasy writers. Lin is writing a blog, not an academic paper, as you are. THAT’S WHY YOU SHOULD BE CAREFUL when you use blog material to support your own argument in an academic paper. Is Lin right about Carter? Her statement sounds really convincing, but I haven’t made a study of it, so I don’t know. What does she mean by “literary godmother,” anyhow? My hypothetical academic paper writer thinks Lin means it literally, that there’s some direct inspiration, but is that really what she’s saying? Go to other sources to confirm it, challenge it, and decide for yourself.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT TO GET RIGHT?
If you are using a blog post for material in your own paper, you want to make clear to your own readers where you got your material. Avoid plagiarizing! Think for yourself! Help your reader!