Agricultural Communications, Purdue University
An electronic newsletter with communication tips and information

August 1997

Working with the Media

News media contacts are opportunities to tell Extension's story as well as respond to information requests. These tips to help Extension Educators work with the news media come from the December, 1994, issue of "Communiqué."

How to Cite Web Sites: Part I

As editor of "On Target" (and lots of other things), lately I've been faced with the question of how to properly and clearly cite Web sites. For instance, if the URL is at the end of a sentence, do I include the sentence-closing period and risk confusing people, or do I leave the sentence hanging there, unclosed?

Recently it dawned on me that the Web, itself, might help clear up my confusion. (Duh, right?)

What I discovered, though, is that things are still in a state of flux. We're working in a new medium, and it takes time for conventions to become established.

Although surfing the Web didn't totally clear up my confusion, it did give me the benefit of other people's thoughts on the subject and showed me some alternatives from which to choose.

Here's what I chose.

From now on, "On Target" will use angle brackets (< and >) to signal the beginning and end of URLs. Anything within the angle brackets is part of the URL. Anything outside them, isn't. The angle brackets, themselves, are not part of the URL being cited.

This makes sense to me. Several of the sources I found recommend them, and angle brackets are unusual enough that they send a good, clear signal.

You can see this new convention used below and in "Be a Web'ster" and "Spam Attack: Part II" in this month's issue of "On Target." (You can also see it in the e-mail addresses in our bylines--another idea I pulled from the Web .)

Don't like the convention I've chosen? Want more information so that you can choose something better for your projects? Check out "Citing online sources," part of "World Wide Words" at The site contains advice on how to handle citations for Web sites and for other forms of electronic information. And its extensive bibliography points you to other relevant sites.

Next month, I'll discuss another Web citation problem and ways to surmount it. The problem? Web sites and URLs are a moveable feast. (It's that flux thing, again.)

Be a "Web'ster"!

You, too, can be an editorial "Web'ster." Simply make a bookmark at the Webster's Dictionary site. Sponsored by the "Encyclopedia Britannica," this site also offers a one-week trial period for the encyclopedia: <>.

Here are some other sites that can help you plow through even the thickest writer's block.

Perhaps a good quote is what you need. Use Quotation Finder: <>.

If the last person who borrowed your copy of Strunk and White's "The Elements of Style" hasn't returned it yet, look up your grammar and style questions on its Web site: <>.

Looking for a map? "Maps of the World" shares maps from all over the globe: <>.

Speaking of maps, check out "Maps on Us" <> for travel help. Just type in the address where you want to begin a trip and type in the address where you want to end up, and you'll get a route map and turn-by-turn directions to help you get there. Be forewarned: sometimes the information isn't absolutely up to date. So you'll want to take another map with you just in case you're given a bad turn.

Thanks to colleagues in News and Media Relations at Ohio State's Section of Communications and Technology, who contributed this article.

Spam Attack: Part II

Here, as promised in the June issue, are more proactive ways to take the offensive against electronic junk mail.

Where and How to Complain

Forward the offending e-mail ad, along with appropriate comments, to the Internet Service Provider (ISP) of the sender. Usually, this can be done by using one of the following addresses: POSTMASTER@--, SYSADMIN@--, ADMINISTRATOR@--, ADMIN@--, SUPPORT@--, SYSOP@--, ABUSE@--, SUPPORT@--, ROOT@--, replacing the "--" with whatever the sender uses in his or her e-mail address.

However, forward the ad and appropriate comments to If the sender has an AOL address. (NOTE: That's a "one" before the "@" sign.)

Also, look in the "Header" information (found at the top or the bottom of the page, depending on how you get your e-mail) for "@--." Sometimes senders have disguised their e-mail address at the top of the page, but the ISP is revealed in the header information.

How to Take the Offensive

Below is an edited version of current U.S. communication law. Although it does not strictly apply to electronic junk mail, some more proactive recipients have included this statement at the bottom of their replies to purveyors of this nuisance e-mail as a potential way to ward off future spam attacks.

Sec. 227. Restrictions on use of telephone equipment

(1) Prohibitions
It shall be unlawful for any person within the United States -- to use any telephone facsimile machine, computer, or other device to send an unsolicited advertisement to a telephone facsimile machine;

Hope for the Future

Senator Daniel Torricelli of New Jersey presently has a bill, (S.875) The Electronic Mailbox Protection Act of 1997, on the floor of Congress to implement methods to reduce unwanted and unsolicited e-mail.

To learn more about spamming, check out "The Netizen's Guide to Spam, Abuse, and Internet Advertising" at <>.

Grammar Trap: Or vs. Nor

"Or" and "nor" are both conjunctions. Both indicate that two alternatives are being discussed. What's the difference?

You use "or" when you're discussing two alternatives still under consideration.

Example: I was considering either begging or threatening to get the results I wanted.

You use "nor" when the alternatives you're discussing have been negated, when they are not still "in the running."

Example: Neither begging nor threatening got me the results I wanted.

But don't get carried away by "negated." A common mistake is to use "nor" instead of "or" after any negative expression.

Wrong: I cannot sing nor dance.

Right: I cannot sing or dance. I can neither sing nor dance.

Tip: When in doubt, use "nor" only when you use "neither."

If there's a grammar (or usage) trap you'd like me to discuss or you have a tip that will help the rest of us avoid one, please let me know.

We want to hear from you. Do you have a communication question? Do you have a comment on this issue of "On Target"? If so, please e-mail any of our writers.

It is the policy of the Department of Agricultural Communication Service of Purdue University that all persons shall have equal opportunity and access to its programs and facilities without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age or disability. Purdue University is an Affirmative Action employer. These materials may be available in alternative formats.