How do you cite sources in your blog?

When you’re writing traditional academic essays, there are expectations about traditional academic referencing for the sources you’ve used. Should you do the same in a blog?

Well, like most things, it depends. And blogging is a useful opportunity to pull back from the rules and have a look at the principles.

The reason for linking to other sources is to thicken up your own observations, and to build a network between your ideas and those of other people. You’re adding other layers of value, and suggesting useful pathways that your readers might follow up.

But this means that you need to give credit to those sources, for three reasons.

First, you’re respecting the work that someone else has put in, and not claiming it for yourself. Secondly, you’re making it possible for your reader to get to the source and form their own opinion. And thirdly, you’re providing a direct link to the place where you got it, so you’re creating some linking activity for the blogger you’re crediting. (This is why you’ll sometimes find bloggers saying they’re not linking to something they want to discuss, because they hate it so much they don’t want that source to get any more traffic.)

So, if you’re asked to add research sources “correctly referenced”, what this means is that you decide for yourself on the style of referencing that will best do all of these things.

If you just link from the words in the text, you’re running the risk that your reader won’t follow the link, so won’t learn much about what that source is. That said, you’ll see lots of bloggers doing exactly that.

But it’s ideal if you can bring into the text a level of credit and naming that makes clearer who’s important to your argument.

There are some useful ways of doing this discussed in this post from HubSpot’s Corey Eridon (and you can find Corey on Twitter @corey_bos). I think this point is particularly important:

Let’s say you’re quoting another blogger in your post — hey, sometimes you literally couldn’t have said it better yourself. First of all, you have to actually quote them. Don’t just take their words and adopt them as your own; they took time to think of that explanation.

So make sure you know how to blockquote (hint: check out the editing tools in WP and look for the quote marks), and then also make sure that when you quote, it’s really because you’re engaging with that idea, not just sticking it on like a post-it.

Corey’s post doesn’t cover what you should do with non Internet sources, including academic references. I find it really helpful when these kinds of sources are listed at the end of the post, as many of you already are doing, using any standard referencing system that you can handle consistently.

If I cite something from a published book in a blogpost, I’ll sometimes link through to publishers’ details about the book, and in the past I’ve linked to the book’s Amazon page so readers can even think about buying it, but frankly at the moment I’m so alarmed by everything to do with Amazon, I’ve stopped doing that.

Hope this is helpful to those of you blogging and wondering how to reference. Feel free to ask a question! And thanks to Travis for the nudge to do this.



4 thoughts on “How do you cite sources in your blog?

  1. Hi Kate,
    I have been adding a lot of links to other sources just as a bit of extra information in case the reader doesn’t know what the term means or simply wants to know more. If I don’t explicitly reference this, say in a quote, is it still necessary to reference these hyperlinks? I have done this with my most recent BCM240 post here: If you could give me a little further feedback I would really appreciate it.
    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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