Electronic publications are those publications, which are formatted and produced in an electronic environment. An article on wiseGEEK, for example, would be considered an electronic publication. Some publications are available both in print form, and through an electronic medium. Often, the rules for citing electronic publications will be slightly different than for print publications.
The most common form of electronic publications are those which are found on the Internet, often in hypertext markup language (HTML). Some publications may also be in the form of PDF files, word processing files, or other types of files that are uploaded to the Internet, or distributed privately. The advantages to these publications are that they are available nearly any time to those who request access, and there are no printing or mailing costs. Moreover, because they are easily forwarded form one reader to another, electronic publications will often reach a larger, and more relevant audience. The disadvantages are that they can be copied relatively easily, and that some readers strongly prefer to read materials on paper.
In the case of the Internet, there are online databases that offer access to millions of electronic publications, including entire magazines or individual articles. These databases may be offered to the general public for a fee, or may be available through a university or agreement with a local public library. These offer a convenient place to look for electronic publications.
Electronic publications can also be put on a physical medium, such as a disk or CD. These can be sold to individuals or freely distributed with information on them. The advantage to this type of medium is that distribution of the information can be more closely regulated, though distribution is not as quick.
Newspapers and magazines often have both an electronic form and a print form of their publications. This offers some additional revenue-generating possibilities for these companies, as they will offer advertising both online and in print. Also, these publications have a more immediate way to get the word out when breaking news happens. This is a limitation that the traditional print medium cannot overcome easily.
Slightly more information is required when it comes to citing electronic publications. Whenever an electronic publication is cited, the medium it was retrieved from will need to be noted. In the case of the Internet, the URL will likely need to be put at the end of the citation. Some styles, such as APA and MLA, allow the URL to be left out if the publication is retrieved from an academic database, but the database must be named. The date the information is retrieved must also be listed, since articles on the Internet are often updated periodically.