Citation, Documentation of Sources

Q. I am copyediting a scholarly journal in the humanities and have a question about footnotes referencing a website. I always check the URL to ensure that it is still accessible and still goes to the appropriate information. Typically the author provides an access date as part of the footnote. My question is: When the URL is still accurate, should I revise the access date to the date that I checked the URL, or leave the author’s original date in place?

A. Since the author is citing information that appeared on a particular date, it’s important that you not change it. One purpose in giving a date is to let the reader know that the author didn’t have access to information that may have been posted at the site after that date.