Choosing the right URL

Choosing the right link for online references

If you have used an online resource you need to include a link to it in your reference. You will need to decide which link to include – if you can see a DOI choose that first:

DOI (Digital Object Identifier) is an alphanumeric address to identify content and provide a constant link to its location on the Internet.


URL (Uniform Resource Locator) and is the address of a resource on the Internet.


Example: NICE, 2014. Head injury: assessment and early management Clinical guideline [CG176] [online]. NICE. [viewed 02/12/2016]. Available from:

Ebooks (such as Dawsonera, EBL, MyiLibrary)

When you are logged into an ebook through the library the URL in the address bar of your browser is temporary and cannot be used again, so for ebooks use the beginning of the address.

Example: Available from:

Websites (such as newspaper articles, reports, organisational publications and so on)

Copy the URL in the address bar of your browser. If you are downloading publications the URL for the PDF document is also fine to use.

From a library database or a publisher’s website (such as ejournal articles, theses and so on)

You cannot cut and paste a link from the address bar as you are logged in and it will give anyone else an error message. 

Look for a DOI or a link in the entry for the article - here are some examples:

Example of a DOI
Example of an URL
Example of a Permalink