I see tinyURL recommended for news or magazine-style writing where AP style prevails--but then I see online warnings that clicking a tinyURL may take readers to sites they do not (at all) want to visit. I'm writing source-rich articles on such topics as polar bears, global warming, and hydraulic fracturing. If I use such in-line attributions as "According to the Polar Bear Specialist Group of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)" my text quickly becomes unreadable. Long URLs attached to every line containing a fact from a different online source--that is, attached to nearly every line--present the same problem.

I thought tinyURL might offer a solution--but now apparently spammers are using tinyURLs to hijack readers.

I will appreciate any advice on how to cite sources responsibly (and allow readers to confirm facts I am presenting) without producing cluttered, hard-to-read text. Thanks in advance.

  • The answer below is good, as a general comment on tinyURL just know your source. If it is a trusted source using tinyURL is no more risky than clicking on any other link on the interwebs.
    – James
    Jan 22, 2014 at 19:50

1 Answer 1


In a bibliography I would always give the full original URL. When it goes offline, or a reader does not currently have internet access, people can at least still deduce the publishing context from the domain name or folder structure.

Inline, the source is not quoted in full, according to APA. You use a short form, e.g. last name of author(s) and year of publication, and list the full source in a reference section.

If you're not familiar with the APA style, here's an online guide: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/2/10/

As you can see from my link, the URL tells you it is published by the Online Writing Lab (OWL) of Purdue University, so just from the URL you know it is a source you can trust and what part of Purdue created that content.

  • Also, the odds of the long URL being stored in something like The Internet Archive is much better than the shortened URL being available along with its target location.
    – user
    Jan 31, 2014 at 12:47

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