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Citing Sources

Guidelines and examples for the Chicago Style

Electronic Sources

Electronic content is often impermanent and manipulable. If a source changes or becomes unavailable, citations to that source may need to be adjusted. It is therefore essential to verify the accuracy of citations to electronic content  as close to the publication date as possible.

Some databases or electronic periodicals provide persistent links to make citations easier. The Digital Object Identifier (DOI) allows assigning a unique and permanent identifier to electronic sources. It is possible to find an electronic document through its DOI on this web site.

A DOI can also be converted into a URL in this way: (example: j.jet.2003.12.008 ). This link leads directly to the document.  

This web site allows you to format automatically a citation in the style of your choice starting from the DOI.

The « author-date » system may be less suitable for  electronic and audiovisual sources, because the date of publication is essential in this system, and it is sometimes difficult to find the date of publication of an electronic document. This is why we will sometimes give examples only  for the  « notes and bibliography » system.

Information on the Internet is often posted without clear indication of authorship, title, publisher or date, that is, without standard facts of publication. If no facts of publication,  or very few, can be determined, it is still necessary  to include information beyond the URL, which may change or become obsolete. A complete citation must not only indicate where a source is or was located, but also what a source is. For original content from online sources other than periodicals, include as much of the following as can be determined: title of the site, owner or sponsor of the site, title of the page, publication date or date of revision or modification, URL. It is recommended to keep a copy of any source that is likely to change or disappear.

"Title of the page or the document," Title of Web site, Owner/Sponsor of Web site, Date of publication or revision or access date, URL.

"Joost Pauwelyn on the Data-Driven Future of Legal Research," The Graduate Institute Geneva (website), 16 October 2017,

Author of the post, "Title of the post", Title of the blog, Date of the post, URL.

Catriona Murdoch and Wayne Jordash, "Will Seven Millions Starving Yemenis Ever Find Justice?", iLawyer (blog), October 2, 2017,

Access dates in online source citations are of limited value, since previous versions will often be unavailable to readers, and the author may have consulted several versions in the course of research. The Chicago Manual of Style recommends therefore including the date of the last visit to the site only in time-sensitive fields such as law, where even small corrections may be significant, or when the professor or the editor asks it.  Add also an access date if the publication date or the date of the last modification can not be determined.

A very long URL can often be shortened simply by finding a better version of the link. But shortened versions provided by "URL shorteners", intended primarly for use with social media, should never be used, because such services could disappear, and the original URL identifies the domain name and other elements that may be important to the citation.

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