Sitting here in the offices of APA, we APA Style experts find it easy to forget that not everyone uses or chats about APA Style every day of the week. Therefore, it is not surprising that sometimes we plunge into discussions without fully defining all of the terms we use. Today, I’d like to address what has become a recurring question from APA Style users: What constitutes a web page, and what is a website? That is, are these two different things or two names for the same thing?
These are two different things, although one is made up of the other. A web page is a computer file on the web, displayed on a monitor or mobile device, which could provide text, pictures, or other forms of data. A website consists of a collection of web pages provided by one person or organization; all of the pages trace back to a common Uniform Resource Locator (URL) and usually are hyperlinked to each other.
Let’s use APA’s website as our example. The home page of the site, https://www.apa.org, is the gateway to the rest of the pages of the website. It’s also an excellent starting place from which to search for those individual web pages.
Let’s say I do a search from the home page on the term autism. This results in a whole list of web pages on the APA website that are related to autism. There is a page on which the term autism is defined. There’s a page about a video about autism spectrum disorders. There is a page for a children’s book that explains autism to kids. There’s a page on autism treatment options, and so forth. So, if I were writing about autism and wanted to refer people to APA’s website because I think it’s a good source of information that is always adding new pages on that topic, I would say, “APA’s website is a good source of information on autism (https://www.apa.org/).” But if I wanted to talk about something specific from one page, I would create a reference for that page and make sure to include a citation; for example, “Behavioral interventions are an important part of helping children with autism (American Psychological Association, n.d.).” The reference for the web page from which I got that information would look like this:
American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Autism treatment options.
Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/autism/treatment.aspx
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