Citing Sources in Blog Posts

Citing Sources title image

Citing sources gives your work an extra layer of authority. It doesn’t do all of the work for you, but with the power of a simple citation you can import virtually unlimited bodies of knowledge into your own work without having to cover all that ground yourself. You can point to the experts, reference the gurus, and at the very least provide extra context to the information you are presenting.

As a note of caution, do not abuse citations. If you misrepresent the points of view you are incorporating into your own work, you can encourage the reverse effect of what you intend: you will lose credibility with your readers rather than gaining any.

Citing Sources via Hyperlink

Learn more about hyperlinks.

For most day to day purposes, a hyperlink to the document you are citing will be sufficient. A hyperlink basically says, I am referencing this item and you can follow this link to another document to learn more.

One of the problems you may encounter with hyperlinks is that you have no control over the external resource. The page could move, or get deleted, or some other circumstance that now makes your content less effective.

There are now hosted services out there that let you archive a reference indefinitely. Websites like exist to create permanent snapshots of a live webpage, with all the graphics and text. And then you can link to the resulting “archived” URL to make sure the resource you referenced is always available to your readers.

Using Footnotes

Footnotes are starting to appear more and more frequently, particularly on scientific blogs, for which readers may want to further investigate a topic or study. Many of the scientific studies available in technical literature may require authentication to read in complete form. So a hyperlink will be of no value to reader if they can’t read the complete resource you are referencing.

This is why including footnotes provides a valuable alternative to direct hyperlinking. And the appearance of footnotes alone signals a higher level of authority—whether you’ve earned it yet or not.

It’s easy to include footnotes in your HTML content through a variety of internal linking methods.

<p>Including footnotes can be as easy as including a superscript<sup>1</sup>.
<p>1: a superscript is a textual element available in HTML.</p>

The example above, you have included a numbered footnote using the <sup> tag in HTML. (Note: you don’t have to use superscripts. Some websites simply put the number in brackets. The number “1” references the footnote listing below. There are just a few problems here. You could improve the functionality here by providing an internal link to the footnotes section.

<p>Including footnotes can be as easy as including a superscript<a href="#footnote-1"><sup>1</sup></a>.
<p id="footnote-1">[1] A superscript is a textual element available in the HTML syntax.</p>

That improves the usability with a convenience factor. But there’s another problem. What happens if you add a footnote above the note listed as “1”? You will have to go through your document and update every existing note.

The only way around this to compose your original document in a format that allows you to generate your footnotes programmatically.

There are also WordPress footnotes plugins that can help.

Blogging as a Business Strategy

Check out these other resources from the InMotion blog:

Improve the performance and security of your WordPress website with our new WordPress VPS Hosting plans. Get 40x faster speeds with dedicated resources, server caching, and optimization tools.

check markHigh-Performance VPS check mark99.99% Uptime check markFree SSL & Dedicated IP check markAdvanced Server Caching

WordPress VPS

Was this article helpful? Join the conversation!