I want to cite the following pdf in Turabian style, but I have no idea how to cite it because it is technically multiple things at once. It looks like a paper, but its extension is a pdf, and its hosted on a website. There are entirely different ways of citing something based on these three options, and I'm required to use to right option, but there is no way for me to remotely figure out which option I'm supposed to go with.

Is this a website citation? Or an eBook citation? Or something else? I'm completely lost. I come across many government run websites that host .pdf files that aren't books, so this problem occurs regularly.

1 Answer 1


A practical way of looking at this is realizing that PDF (Portable Document Format) was intentionally created to be the electronic representation of a physically printed (printable) document. While it has developed over the years to have extensions (e.g., forms), it is very much still that way today.

Unlike websites, PDF files don't change dynamically. They can only be replaced. You may find the "document" as one of many on a website, but from the perspective of its contents, what's the difference between that and finding an article in a print magazine?

And therein lies my recommendation: attribute the contents of the PDF file, not the PDF file. If the PDF file contains a book, attribute it as a book. If the PDF file contains an article or a thesis... I believe you get my point. It doesn't matter if you found the document online or on the shelf of a library.

In short, treat the PDF file as if it were a piece of paper.

Your example is an article/report. Treat it that way.

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