How To Cite An Online Course (APA, MLA, and Chicago Style)

Jordan Coleman
Published by Jordan Coleman
Last Updated On: December 8, 2021

Citing sources - the bane of any student's existence. Whether you’re citing a textbook, a lecture, a presentation, or in this case, an online course, you’ll need to know the correct and proper way to do so.

With so many styles out there (APA, MLA, and Chicago), it can get rather confusing.

To help you with this mundane task, we’ve gone ahead and searched hundreds of forums to compile the ultimate guide to academic citing.

So, if you’re asking yourself, “How do I cite from my online course?” Keep on reading to find out.

How Do You Cite An Online Course?

Citing content always depends on your university, course, and instructor. Therefore, you should always double-check with your professor to ensure they have no other preferences when citing course resources.

Most universities and online courses will use the three most popular documentation styles - APA, MLA, and Chicago Manual of Style.

APA Style

man reading and pointing words in a book

The way you cite your online course content depends a lot on who will be reading your paper.

If the intended audience has access to online learning systems such as Brightspace, you should cite the content according to the type of resource.

This could include books, PowerPoints, lectures, etc [1].

If you’re unable to find the author, you can use the name of your University as the group author instead. If you’re unable to see the date, you can use (n.d) as a substitute.

The title of the page or resource you’re citing should be presented in italics.

General Format:

Author, A. A. (Date). Title of webpage/document. Source/Website (Eg. Brightspace). URL


Joe, B. (2016, April 2). How to cite an online course. My GRE Exam Preparation. http://

Another way to put it:

Joe, B. (2016, April 2). How to cite an online course. My GRE Exam Preparation. Retrieved from http://

If your university or course has a resource only students can access, you’ll need to use ‘Accessed from’ rather than ‘Retrieved from.’ This will indicate the source isn’t available to everyone.

MLA Style

The following style is the MLA 8th edition.

General Format:

Last name, First name. “Title of source”. Title of Website, URL


Blogs, Joe. “Citing an online course.” My GRE Exam Preparation, http://

Chicago Style

General Format:

First name, Surname, “Title of source,” Course Code at University Name, Accessed Month Day Year, URL


Joe, Blogs. “How Do I Cite An Online Course,” HWE-300 at Florida University March 21, 2014, http://

Citing Images

Citing an image you have found online, maybe directly through your course or researching on the internet, works slightly differently from the text format.

APA Style

male person writing on a notebook while reading on a laptop

1. Citing a digital image or photo

General Format: 

Creator’s Last name, First initial. (Publication or creation date). Title of image [Type of media]. Name of publisher, museum, or university. URL


Blogs, J. (22 May 1993). The Beach [Mixed Media]. Florida University. http://

2. Citing an image from a museum website

This citation structure can be used for all types of art, including pictures, paintings, and sculptures.

General Format:

Creator’s Last name, First initial. (Publication or creation date). Title of artwork [type of media]. Name of the museum, Location of the museum. URL


Blogs, J. (13 June 1982). The Beach [Painting] Denver Art Museum. http://

MLA Style

two people typing on different laptop

All the citations below are based on the information found on the MLA Style Center [2].

1. Citing an image or photograph found online from an institution or museum

General Format: 

Creators Last name, First name. Title of image. Date. Website name. Numbers (if applicable), URL


Blogs, Joe. The Beach. 1996. The Met. LC-HIG45-10403, http://

2. Citing a digital image found on a web page or online article

General Format:

Creator’s Last name, First name. “Title of image.” The website name, Day Month Year Published, URL


Blogs, Joe. “The Beach.” The Met, 24 June 2021, http://

Chicago Style

laptop view of a person typing on a laptop

1. Citing a photograph found online

General Format:

Last name, First initial. Photograph Title. Day Month Year created. Collection, Museum, Location. Accessed date, URL

Only include the date accessed if you’re unable to find a publication date.


Blogs, J. The Beach. 12 March 1932. Denver City Museum. http:// 

2. Citing a digital image 

General Format:

Last name, First initial. “Title.” Digital Image. Website title. Day Month Year published. URL


Joe, B. “The Beach.” Digital Image. Vacations. 21 April 1998. http://

Citing Your Own Work

woman thinking holding up a pen, man writing and studying

You may not know this, but reusing previous works written by you can actually be self-plagiarism if not cited properly.

“Self-plagiarism is the practice of presenting one's own previously published work as though it were new.”


- The APA Manual, 6th edition 

This can include whole papers and even edited works. Not only should you cite your own work correctly, but you should also ask your professor for approval.

APA Style

General Format:

Last name, First initial. (Year). Title of manuscript. Unpublished manuscript, University.


Blogs, J. 2020. How To Cite An Online Course. Unpublished manuscript, Florida University.

MLA Style

General Format:

First Name Last Name. Title of manuscript. Date of composition, University.


Joe Blogs. How To Cite An Online Course. 21st May 2020, Florida University.

Citing an Online Course: The Bottom Line

It’s no secret that citing can be an absolute headache. With all the different styles and requirements, it can be difficult to know where to start.

The best way to figure out citing for your online course is to ask your professor how they prefer the citings to be presented.

Always remember to cite your work, even if it’s work you have used previously, to ensure you avoid plagiarism.


  1. https://apastyle.apa.org/products/publication-manual-7th-edition
  2. https://style.mla.org/citing-images-viewed-firsthand-or-online/

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