Works cited. Bibliography. Parenthetical.
If you are out of college or not a member or academia, you may have retired these words to the same dusty file cabinet in your brain where you store the Pythagorean Theorem or Periodic Table of Elements. It’s in there somewhere. Just haven’t had to crack it open in a while…
Well, last week I had to write a paper for a summer class I’m in and found myself in unfamiliar territory. I had to cite a LinkedIn profile. In all my library filled evenings spent pouring over APA and MLA handbooks, I never encountered instructions on how to cite a LinkedIn profile.
So, how do I cite it? I contacted a career counselor and LinkedIn expert. I contacted a professor with 20+ years of paper scrutinizing experience. I contacted a librarian at my alma mater, who every day helps students figure out how to cite obscure information. I asked a question in the LinkIn Answers area (and mostly got spam). Even the great font of information, Google, could not direct me to the appropriate way to cite a LinkedIn profile.
So, I went right to the source…APA. I asked the question on APA’s Facebook page and asked whether it should be handled like a Facebook profile. They quickly responded.
APA Style - Wow, this is the first time we've ever gotten this question, but your solution sounds like a good one. A profile is a profile, right?
APA’s Chelsea Lee explains that “because posts from online social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, are not yet often fodder for scholarly research, specific reference examples aren’t included in the [APA] Publication Manual.” Lee provides the example of a citation on a Facebook update.
Barack Obama. (2009b, October 9). Humbled.
[Facebook update]. Retrieved from http://www.facebook.com/posted.php?
Bare in mind that for LinkedIn, we are not just citing a post, but an entire profile. Also, depending on an individual’s privacy settings, not everyone may be able to view the post. This complicates matters as APA states (regarding Facebook posts) that these should be treated as personal communications.
So, with this in mind, my LinkedIn citation should look like this:
Nicole Schiller Palmisano. (n.d.) LinkedIn [Profile page]. Retrieved July 12. 2012,
I have written LinkedIn to confirm my thoughts and expect an answer pretty soon. I’ll keep you updated on this. In the meantime, what do you think?
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