Pro Tip Tuesday #9: Unfortunately, your readers can’t use your library proxy

(Okay, maybe I’m especially sensitive to this one because I haven’t had R1-level library database access since 2016…)

When you’re citing a source you found through a database your institution’s library subscribes to, copying and pasting the URL from your address bar might result in a link your readers won’t be able to use. There are two main reasons for this:

  1. It might be a URL for the search you conducted to find the source, not a direct link to the page for the source itself.
  2. If the URL includes your institution’s library proxy (something like, it will lead to a login page that only works for people with off-campus access to your institution’s library resources.

In many cases, you don’t actually need a URL at all, though you may need to indicate the database where you found the thing you’re citing. When you do need or want to provide a URL, make sure to use a DOI or other permalink, which you can often find somewhere on the page in the database. CMOS 14.11 recommends testing links while logged out of your library account to make sure they lead somewhere that will give the reader information about the source, even if they can’t access the full text.

For more advice about cleaning up URLs to make them more useful for the reader, see this post from the CMOS Shop Talk blog.