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Citing Business Information

Citation Styles

In the academic setting, we use formalized styles of attribution. Formatting your citations in a format like APA is a standardized means of giving credit to the person or company who created the content you're using. The content creator may be an author, analyst, or your professor, for example. Outside of academia, you'll probably cite your work in different ways. Click here for information about citing your sources verbally.

There are many different citation styles to choose from. Depending on your discipline, target audience, or place of work (Buzzfeed style guide), you will be asked to use different styles in different situations. In business, the preferred style is APA style

Guiding Principles

In general, APA discourages including database names in the citation for articles, books, and other sources that can be easily found in a library catalog, on a publisher's website, etc. However, because business databases contain original proprietary information that generally cannot be found outside of a specific database, it's important to list the database name in the source citation in Italic type.

Often, to help identify data; reports and other works (e.g. works other than articles, books, reports, etc.) should include a description of the work in square brackets after the title and before the period. Define any special formats such as [Map] or [Table] or [Data set] or [Country report]. Capitalize the first letter of the description, but do not italicize.

After the title and database information, it's important to provide the DOI or URL of the work. Since most of the URL's are session-specific (meaning they will not resolve for users), provide the URL of the database home page or the login page instead.

When there is no personal author for a source, use the corporate author – the organization, company, or publisher.

It's important to try to cite the original source or author of each work. In some cases, such as with Insider Intelligence or Statista, the company has remixed the work or data for their own purposes. Often, the company/publisher has made this clear; however, they are rarely perfect. In general, the best practice in business and academia is to cite the original source of the data or information.

Databases such as Mergent Online do not provide report numbers, dates, or author names. Because the reports are updated frequently, it's important to include a retrieval date in the citation. 

When in doubt, contact a business librarian.

General Tips:

  • Tell the audience your source before you use the information (the opposite of in-text citations).
  • Provide enough information about each source so that your audience could, with a little effort, find them. 
  • If your source is unknown to your audience, provide enough information about your source for the audience to perceive them as credible.


  • Include the title of the book, year of publication and a brief mention of the author's credentials. For example: "In his 2005 book, Eating to Be Smart, Charles Larson, a registered dietitian, notes that consuming yogurt…”


  • Include a quick statement of the author (if relevant) as well as the (full) date and title of the source. This applies to both print sources and those found in Library Databases. For example: “According to Len Zehm, a sports columnist for the Chicago Sun Times, in an article from May 31, 2006…”


  • If you are citing a website you need to establish the credibility, currency and objectivity (fact vs. opinion) of the site.
  • Include the title of the website (not the URL), the author/organization that supports the site, the site's credentials, the last date it was updated, and the date you accessed the site. For example: "On their website, last updated on October 6th of this year, Human Rights Watch, an international organization devoted to exposing human rights violations, calls for an end to detention of immigrants in facilities designed to hold accused or convicted criminals. They point out that..."