How to Make Reference to Google Maps in a College Paper

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Google Maps is a useful online tool that can be used for research purposes. Whether cited in a bibliography or using endnotes or footnotes, referencing Google Maps in college research papers takes a degree of care as the reader must be able to access the same screen that you saw when doing your research. Treat the map as an interactive reference map (See Reference 1) and follow the format laid out in Clark, Larsgaard, and Teague’s “Cartographic Citations: A Style Guide” (See Reference 2). Always double-space after periods.

Use the “Link” button on the upper right-hand corner of your map to have your map’s URL rendered. The specific URL generated by that button will capture the level of zoom and type of map (e.g. satellite) you were working with, so if you need certain details to be clear on the map to your reader make sure they’re viewable before you click the “Link” button. Copy the URL provided.

Start the citation with the title of the map. The title will typically be whatever your search string was, so if you are viewing the results of a search for "Nags Head, North Carolina," that would be the map name. Place a period after the title.

List the date the data was compiled. This information is available at the bottom of the map rendering in the form of a copyright year. Place a period after the date.

Type “Scale undetermined” next, as this information is not displayed on Google maps, and follow it with a semicolon.

Notate who accessed Google Maps. If it was yourself, type your name, and follow it with another semicolon.

Indicate the software used, Google Maps, by typing "using 'Google Maps' " and place a period after the last quotation mark.

Copy in the exact URL and enclose it in brackets. For example, the map of Nags Head, North Carolina would look like <,+NC+27959/>. Do not use any punctuation after the link.

Type the date the map was accessed in day, month, year format and enclose it in parenthesis (e.g. 12 January 2021). Place a period at the end to finish your citation.

  • After creating your link in Google Maps, be sure to open a new browser window to test the link to ensure that it goes to the same page you were looking it in your other window.

Margaret Bryant is a long-time resident of North Carolina. She has recently written extensively for GolfLink and eHow. She has been writing for publication since 1999. Bryant holds a Bachelor of Arts in English language/literature.