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APA Citation Guide (6th edition): When Information Is Missing

This guide shows you how to cite using APA 6th edition

When Information is Missing

You can create an APA reference even if your source is missing one or more pieces of information (e.g. no author, no date, etc.). 

Review the table "How to Adapt APA Style References When Information is Missing" published by the American Psychological Association for more information on how to deal with missing information:

No Author

If no author or creator is provided, start the citation with the title/name of the item you are citing instead. Follow the title/name of the item with the date of publication, and the continue with other citation details.

Note: an author/creator won't necessarily be a person's name. It may be an organization or corporation, for example Health Canada or a username on a site such a YouTube.

In-Text

If no author or creator is provided, use a shortened version of the title where you'd normally put the author's last name. 

If you're citing something which is part of a bigger work, like an article from a magazine, newspaper, journal or encyclopedia, or chapter or short story from a book, put the shortened title in quotation marks in your in-text citation. 

Example, paraphrasing: ("A few words", 2014) 

If you're citing an entire work, like a book, website, video, etc., italicize the shortened title in your in-text citation

Example, 'paraphrasing: (A few words, 2014)

Anonymous

If and only if an item is signed as being created by Anonymous, use "Anonymous" where you'd normally put the author's name.

Alphabetical Order in References List

When putting works in alphabetical order, ignore initial articles such as "the", "a", or "an". For example the title The best of Canada would be alphabetized as if it started with the word best instead of the word The

If the title begins with a number, alphabetize it as if the number was spelled out. For example the title 5 ways to succeed in business would be alphabetized under F as if it had started with the word Five.

No Date

If no date is provided, use the initials n.d. where you would normally put the date.

Also use the initials n.d. if the date of content is difficult to determine, such as on a Wikipedia page.

No Page Numbers

Page numbers may not be provided for some items, such as online materials. If this is the case:

References List

If a citation would normally include page numbers but none are provided, skip the page numbers in the citation.

In-Text Citation - Quoting Directly

When quoting directly in the text of your paper, you would normally include page numbers if they were given. If there are no page numbers given:

  • If there are numbered paragraphs, indicate the paragraph number instead of the page number with the word "para." before it. For example: (Smith, 2012, para. 3)
  • If there are no numbered paragraphs, but are headings, give the name of the heading, followed by the word "section" and the number of the paragraph within the section it is from. For example: (Smith, 2012, Discussion section, para. 3)
  • If there are no numbered paragraphs and no headings, provide only the author's last name and the year as normal.

No Title

Occasionally an item may not have a title. If you are citing something with no identified title, write a description of the item placed in square brackets. Put this description in brackets where you'd normally put the title.

No Database Name

If you find an article using Library Search make sure to click through to read the full article. Once you are looking at the full article it usually says the database name at the top of the screen.

If it is ambiguous or says something like "searching 12 databases" and you can't tell which one database it is from, enter the name of the database provider (e.g. Proquest, EBSCO, etc.) as the database.