Citation, Documentation of Sources

Q. Hi there! CMOS defines a website as a set of publicly available pages. I need to cite a site that is restricted to users but is not private communication. How would one go about this? Do we need to signify to our readers that the URL is blocked to users only? Thanks!

A. Any site that could be accessed by anyone can usually be cited without comment. For example, you might use a footnote to cite an article on the piano at Grove Music Online:

1. Grove Music Online, “Piano [pianoforte; fortepiano],” by Cynthia Adams Hoover and Edwin M. Good, January 31, 2014, https://​doi​.org​/10​.1093​/gmo​/9781561592630​.article​.A2257895.

That URL is based on a DOI, a persistent identifier designed to return information about a source even when full access is denied. In this case, access will be denied to anyone who doesn’t have a subscription to Grove Music Online or who isn’t logging in at a library or other institution with a subscription:

Screenshot from Grove Music Online showing title and author of piano article, DOI, and publication dates for print and online. Also includes a red padlock and a note saying: "You do not currently have access to this article."

If you want readers to know that the page wasn’t freely available at the time you cited it, you can add “(requires subscription)” after the URL. But there’s no need to add anything unless the page is entirely unavailable to the public, via subscription or otherwise (see CMOS 14.207 for an example).