I am writing a document for my project, and some information is from another website, I didn't copy the text but use their data, do I need to write that website in references? If so, how to?

And that website is not in English.


  • If you have Microsoft Word, there is a built in Reference "template". Click References at the top and select the appropriate tab (you will have to choose which style) and it auto generates them. – J Crosby Jul 24 '19 at 22:17
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    This isn't an answer, but you should definitely save the relevant webpages as a pdf to backup (prove) your research. Websites change and disappear. There may come a time when you need that source. – wetcircuit Jul 24 '19 at 22:20
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    Adding to @wetcircuit's comment, saving a copy to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine can also be a good idea. Not only can that serve as a persistent reference, it can also serve as an attestation of what the page in question looked like at a specific date and time. – user Jul 26 '19 at 9:50

If the authors of the website produced the data, then cite them like you would the authors of a work published on paper. If the website is a journal, it will have a name that you can also use in the citation.

If the authors of the website are writing about data that someone else produced, you will need to find the original author and cite her/him/them directly. It can be tricky to figure out who is the original author, because many websites relate studies without being clear about attribution.

How to make the citation depends on the style guide you're using. And each style guide has differences based on the type of website and article.

An example from MLA:

“Athlete's Foot - Topic Overview.” WebMD, 25 Sept. 2014, www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/tc/athletes-foot-topic-overview.

An example from APA:

Cain, K. (2012, June 29). The Negative effects of Facebook on communication. Social Media Today RSS. Retrieved from http://socialmediatoday.com

An example from Chicago Manual of Style:

Heck, Jr., Richard G. “About the Philosophical Gourmet Report.” Last modified August 5, 2016. http://rgheck.frege.org/philosophy/aboutpgr.php.

  • @Wenqi Guo: If you are submitting your work for a project, your teacher may have specified which style guide you are expected to follow. Check the instructions for the project. – Rrr Aug 25 '19 at 17:36

If their data is used in your work, you have to reference them. This is important for several reasons:

  • It shows that you didn't just make up that data on the spot.

  • It doesn't give the false impression that you gathered the data yourself. If you didn't do something, you should not pretend to have done it.

  • It allows the readers to evaluate the source of the data by themselves. Otherwise they would have to rely on you having a good judgement of the source.

  • In case you don't provide the data itself in your text, it allows the readers to get at the data in order to replicate your results.

  • And last not least, it gives credit to those people who did the work of gathering the data.


Yes, you should cite it, particularly if the data you downloaded might be wrong. But either way, the data is the product of their work and you shouldn't take any implied credit for it.

You should have guidelines for citing a website, but at minimum it will be the just the web address and the date. Like

  1. Data courtesy of www.SomeDataForYou.com; Jul 2019.

Before you write a reference:

  1. check whether their data has a specific licence that would require a specific type of reference (e.g. copying part of the licence for derivative work).
  2. check whether they may have a section that clarifies how to cite their data;
  3. consider writing an email to ask how to correctly reference it.

The reason is that the data may not be part of the website per se, but it may belong to the company, or the generic entity that owns the website, or may even belong to a third party that has licensed it to the website.

If you wish to write a reference nonetheless:

Data from www.source.com

or, better, especially if the website is not in the language of your typical reader:

Data from http://www.source.com/path/to/data

Add dates or versions if the data is subject to changes.

I would use the term "courtesy of" only if they replied to a query and confirmed that you are free to use it in any way you wish. Further, you could even use "personal communication of [person]" if the owner of the data sent it to you.

The language itself is an issue if your main readership speaks language A, but:

  1. the data is organized in a manner that would require knowledge of language B;
  2. the data comes with a licence written in language B

In the first case, I would advice adding a footnote, or a supplementary section to describe the structure and content of the data for reproducibility of the analysis. In the second case, you could add a note in the reference (e.g. data from [link], subject to licence [link to licence]) and confide in the power of google.translate.

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