Reference Elements: Examples


Each example is accompanied by a citation whose mouseover note provides context.



The title element consists of a title, an optional alternate title, optional version-edition information, and optional content clarificatons. Consider the following title elements shown in the reader's view:

Yo! Yes?, multiple editions[yo-yes]
Macbeth (The Tragedy of Macbeth)[macbeth]
Badlands \[review of the film Badlands by Terrence Malick][badlands]

The first example links to a list of 26 editions listed by Good Reads. The second includes an alternate title. The third clarifies the title of a review by mentioning the film reviewed.

The Citations Online architecture allows some references to be subsidiary to others. For clarity, the mouseover note for a subsidiary reference includes the title of the corresponding root reference. Consider the following subsidiary titles and notes:

Cherry Tree[George, cherry]
9.4 Four Elements of a Reference[APA, elements]
"'What's to-day, my fine fellow?' said Scrooge ..."[dickens, Christmas]


The link element gives one or more hyperlinks to representations of the referenced content. The hyperlinks are of two kinds — presentations and portrayals. Some examples:

Cherry Tree Myth. Article.[George]

The above example has a link to a presentation of the named article.

Yo! Yes?, multiple editions. Boardbook, hardcover, review.[yo-yes]

There is no online presentation of Yo! Yes? The links boardbook, hardcover, and review are all portrayal links.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Kindle eBook; vendor, book review, synopsis.[jim].

Although this eBook is available online, it is not an online document because no advertised URL allows this reference to link to the eBook. All of the links in this reference are portrayal links.


The contributor element is a list of authors and other contributors. Roles, biographies, and other credibility-relevant data accompany contributors. Two examples:

Matthew Childers (author, illustrator, writer; bio)[Childers]
— an author with multiple roles and a biography

American Psychological Association (about)[APA]
— a corporate author with an about page


Publishing activities are performed by publishing houses and their imprints as well as newspapers, magazines, journals, and websites. Some examples:

Globe Theatre[macbeth]
— a publisher of live performances

— an author as the publisher

— a posting platform


The date element shows how and when content was created or placed online. Some examples:

Posted 2014 August 10[monkey]
— a social media post

Published 1911, posted 2019 December 23[dickens]
— an online book with a pre-Internet publication date

Updated 2021 September 28[lung-cancer]
— an updated Wikipedia article

The date format is chosen by the content provider.

Supporting Documentation

The Citations Online architecture is described in Citations Online: Preliminary Guide for Content Providers. The research behind this architecture is presented in the article Citations Online: Architecture Development.


icon icons/cherryTree.png. George. Cherry Tree Myth. Article. Jay Richardson (author). undated.

badlands. Badlands [review of the film Badlands by Terrence Malick]. Article. Peter Bradshaw (@PeterBradshaw1). The Guardian. Published 2008 August 28.

macbeth. Macbeth (The Tragedy of Macbeth). Play script. William Shakespeare, Kenneth Muir (editor). Globe Theatre, London; Arden Shakespeare. Performed 1606, second Arden series published 1997 January 31.

jim. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Kindle eBook; vendor, book review, synopsis. John Berendt (bio). Random House. 1994 January 13.

lung-cancer. Classification [of lung cancers]. Article section. WikiProject Medicine (supervising project). Wikipedia. Updated 2021 September 28.

George, cherry. Cherry Tree. Oil on canvas; explanation, video. Grant Wood (bio). Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Created 1939.

Childers. Different Roles in Comic Books. Resource. Matthew Childers (author, illustrator, writer; bio). Updated 2020 November 4.

monkey. "I am who I am". Meme. Post Planner. Facebook. Posted 2014 August 10.

icon icons/dickens.png. dickens. A Christmas Carol. Online book. Charles Dickens (bio), Arthur C Michael (illustrator). Hodder and Stoughton, Library of Congress. Published 1911, posted 2019 December 23.

dickens, Christmas. "'What's to-day, my fine fellow?' said Scrooge ...". Page 110. ~. ~. ~.

yo-yes. Yo\! Yes\?, multiple editions. Boardbook, hardcover; review. Chris Raschka (author, illustrator; bio). Multiple publishers. Published 1993 March 1 through 2020 April 21.

APA. APA Style Guide (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th edition). eBook vendors. American Psychological Association. Self-published. Published 2019 October 1, copyright 2020.

APA, elements. 9.4 Four Elements of a Reference. Page 283; APA article. ~. ~. ~.