Citing in Digital Writing Environments

Time Stamps: 0:00 Intro to digital citation | 1:33 Citing on YouTube | 4:54 Citing on the web | 6:51 Inserting hyperlinks

When doing researched writing, the way you integrate and cite your sources can differ based on the medium, genre, and any guidelines set by your instructor. 

No matter the context, it generally makes sense to follow these two suggestions from the text Writer/Designer.

  1. Provide enough information about each source so that readers can find it themselves. 
  2. Use a citation style that is credible within the context of what you’re producing.

In “Citation and Quotes: Study Hall Composition #7,” Yumna Samie provides a helpful overview of the hows and whys of citation. Samie’s advice for source integration is useful for researched writing in many different contexts. In particular, student writers can follow the SWAGG technique shown in this video for research papers, video essays, web writing, and all sorts of academic writing situations.

SWAGG reminds us to effectively integrate source material, it can be helpful to…

S – Stage Setting
Provide context for your readers on why you’re going to quote or paraphrase.

W – Words
Give your quotation or paraphrase of your source.

A – Attribution
Tell the readers what you’re citing. This may sometimes be combined with stage setting.

G – Go Into Detail
Explain to readers how the source material is important or relevant to your message.

G – Go Forward
Make connections to what you want to say next, to avoid an abrupt change of topic.

Integrated sources in digitally composed media

Let’s look at a few different types of digital writing to see what source documentation strategies writers can use.

Web-based writing (web articles, blogs, web sites, etc)

Sources are usually credited with hyperlinks, similar to how they are on this page. By linking directly to sources in the moments they are mentioned, writers make it easy for readers, saving them from the work of trying to find the source themselves.

This Web Writing Style Guide provides advice for effective use of hyperlinks on pages 25-28. It suggests the following.

  • Avoid “click here” phrases. Instead, integrate the link smoothly into your sentence.
  • Put the link in context by linking it to something meaningful in your text. For example, if you’re using a hyperlink to reference a source, you might make a link out of the signaling phrase.
  • Don’t include closing punctuation in the link.
  • Don’t use quotation marks to indicate a title if the title is already hyperlinked.

Video composition

If a video references or responds to another video, or cites other types of sources, you should still make it easy for your readers to find what you’re discussing. Often that means directly talking through Samie’s SWAGG process. Creators often go beyond that to provide citation information on the screen (usually the author and title only), and/or a link or citation in the description. 

Photos or videos embedded within a written document

Make sure to provide captions below the visual to indicate where it came from. Captions provide basic information beneath an image or video. Caption styles can vary depending on the context.

A caption for an art image typically includes the artist’s name, title of work, and other information relevant for artists as illustrated below:

Watercolor painting of cats sitting next to a guitar. Underneath the painting is the text:
Sample art-image caption: Henriette Ronner, The Musicians C. 1876-1877.
Pencil and watercolor on paper, 13.5 x 17.87 in. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum.

Sample news-photograph cutline or caption: Matilda II, the Algonquin Hotel's resident cat. (Ozier Muhammad. New York Times.)
From Schoen & Blazer, 2019

Journalistic images are typically captioned with the photographer and subjects’ name. APA, MLA, and other academic style guides provide their own guidelines for captions as well. Make sure if you include an embedded visual within your text that you use a caption to show your readers where it came from.