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APA Writing & Citing Guide

APA examples provided are not exhaustive. Students must seek assistance from the Writing Centre and/or their Professor for specific or problematic references. The library is not responsible for errors, omissions or problems of interpretation. Last Updated

How to Write an APA Style Reference When Information is Missing

Nothing is missing -- all pieces are present.

List information in the order of author, date, title (with description in square brackets if necessary for explanation of nonroutine information), and source

Reference template:
  Position A Position B Position C Position D
Nothing --
all pieces are present
Author, A. A. (date). Title of document [Format].

or

Title of document [Format].
Retrieved from
http://xxxxx

or

Retrieved Month
Day, Year, from
http://xxxx

or

Location:
Publisher.

or

doi:xxxxx
Notes:
  • Italicize a title when the document stands alone (books, reports, etc.) but not when it is part of a greater whole (chapters, articles, etc.).
  • The retrieval statement should reflect either a URL (for online documents without DOIs), a publisher location and name (for print sources), or a DOI (for any document that has one). Include a retrieval date with a URL only when a source is likely to change (e.g., wikis).

Author is missing

If you cannot find an author for a particular source, then the title moves into the first position of the reference entry.

Sample reference page entry:

Weird & wonderful things pregnancy does to your body. (2014). Retrieved July 3, 2014, from http://www.motherandbaby.com.au/pregnancy-and-birth/pregnancy/2014/6/whats-happening-to-my-body/

Reference template:
  Position A Position B Position C Position D
Author is missing Title of document [Format].

or

Title of document [Format].
(date). n/a Retrieved from
http://xxxxx

or

Retrieved Month
Day, Year, from
http://xxxx

or

Location:
Publisher.

or

doi:xxxxx
In text citation

Create an in-text citation by using the pieces from Positions A and B. Type the first few words of the title and the year. Use double quotation marks around the title or abbreviated title.:

("Weird & wonderful," 2014).

Notes:
  • Italicize a title when the document stands alone (books, reports, etc.) but not when it is part of a greater whole (chapters, articles, etc.).
  • The retrieval statement should reflect either a URL (for online documents without DOIs), a publisher location and name (for print sources), or a DOI (for any document that has one). Include a retrieval date with a URL only when a source is likely to change (e.g., wikis).
  • For titles in Position A, use italics for works that stand alone (Title of Document, date) and quotation marks for works that are part of a greater whole (“Title of Document,” date).

Date is missing

If you cannot find a date for a particular source, insert n.d. for no date instead of the date wherever it is used in the citation.

Sample reference page entry:

Cherry, K. (n.d.). How to cite an online article with no date. About.com. Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/b/2010/11/03/how-to-cite-an-online-article-with-no-date.htm

Reference template:
  Position A Position B Position C Position D
Date is missing Author, A. A. (n.d.). Title of document [Format].

or

Title of document [Format].
Retrieved from
http://xxxxx

or

Retrieved Month
Day, Year, from
http://xxxx

or

Location:
Publisher.

or

doi:xxxxx
In text citation:

Create an in-text citation by using the pieces from Positions A and B.

(Cherry, K., n.d.).

Notes:
  • Italicize a title when the document stands alone (books, reports, etc.) but not when it is part of a greater whole (chapters, articles, etc.).
  • The retrieval statement should reflect either a URL (for online documents without DOIs), a publisher location and name (for print sources), or a DOI (for any document that has one). Include a retrieval date with a URL only when a source is likely to change (e.g., wikis).

Title is missing

If you cannot find a title for a particular source, insert [in square brackets] a brief description of the source:

Sample reference page entry

[Photo of garbage]. (n.d.). Retrieved July 4, 2014 from http://www.pinterest.com/pin/369858188119287314/

Reference template:
  Position A Position B Position C Position D
Title is missing Author, A. A. (date). [Description of document] Retrieved from
http://xxxxx

or

Retrieved Month
Day, Year, from
http://xxxx

or

Location:
Publisher.

or

doi:xxxxx
In text citation:

("Photo of garbage", n.d.)

Notes:
  • The retrieval statement should reflect either a URL (for online documents without DOIs), a publisher location and name (for print sources), or a DOI (for any document that has one). Include a retrieval date with a URL only when a source is likely to change (e.g., wikis).

Author and Date both missing

Substitute title for author and n.d. for no date; then give source

Reference template:
  Position A Position B Position C Position D
Author and
Date are missing
Title of document [Format].

or

Title of document [Format].
(n.d.). n/a Retrieved from
http://xxxxx

or

Retrieved Month
Day, Year, from
http://xxxx

or

Location:
Publisher.

or

doi:xxxxx
Notes:
  • Italicize a title when the document stands alone (books, reports, etc.) but not when it is part of a greater whole (chapters, articles, etc.).
  • The retrieval statement should reflect either a URL (for online documents without DOIs), a publisher location and name (for print sources), or a DOI (for any document that has one). Include a retrieval date with a URL only when a source is likely to change (e.g., wikis).
  • For titles in Position A, use italics for works that stand alone (Title of Document, date) and quotation marks for works that are part of a greater whole (“Title of Document,” date).

Author and Title are both missing

Substitute description of document inside square brackets for author; then give date and source

Reference template:
  Position A Position B Position C Position D
Author and
Title are missing
[Description of document]. (date). n/a Retrieved from
http://xxxxx

or

Retrieved Month
Day, Year, from
http://xxxx

or

Location:
Publisher.

or

doi:xxxxx
Notes:
  • The retrieval statement should reflect either a URL (for online documents without DOIs), a publisher location and name (for print sources), or a DOI (for any document that has one). Include a retrieval date with a URL only when a source is likely to change (e.g., wikis).
  • Retain square brackets for descriptions of documents in Position A ([Description of document], date).

Date and Title are both missing

Provide author, substitute n.d. for no date, describe document inside square brackets, and then give source

Reference template:
  Position A Position B Position C Position D
Date and
Title are missing
Author, A. A. (n.d.). [Description of document]. Retrieved from
http://xxxxx

or

Retrieved Month
Day, Year, from
http://xxxx

or

Location:
Publisher.

or

doi:xxxxx
Notes:
  • The retrieval statement should reflect either a URL (for online documents without DOIs), a publisher location and name (for print sources), or a DOI (for any document that has one). Include a retrieval date with a URL only when a source is likely to change (e.g., wikis).

Author, Date and Title are both missing

Substitute description of document inside square brackets for author, substitute n.d. for no date, and then give source

Reference template:
  Position A Position B Position C Position D
Author, Date and
Title are missing
[Description of document]. (n.d.). n/a Retrieved from
http://xxxxx

or

Retrieved Month
Day, Year, from
http://xxxx

or

Location:
Publisher.

or

doi:xxxxx
Notes:
  • The retrieval statement should reflect either a URL (for online documents without DOIs), a publisher location and name (for print sources), or a DOI (for any document that has one). Include a retrieval date with a URL only when a source is likely to change (e.g., wikis).
  • Retain square brackets for descriptions of documents in Position A ([Description of document], date).

Source is missing

Cite as personal communication or find a substitute. (see §6.20 or APA Blog)

Reference template:
  Position A Position B Position C Position D
Source is missing n/a n/a n/a n/a

Page Numbers are missing

If you cannot find page numbers for a particular source, then for the in text citation you may:

  • insert a paragraph number such as para. 1 (count paragraphs from beginning of document if necessary)
  • insert a document's heading with a paragraph number within that section
Sample reference page entry:

Truth. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster's online dictionary (11th ed.). Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/truth

In text citation:

("Truth," n.d., para. 1).

 

APA information above obtained from Missing Pieces: how to write an APA style reference without all the information. Credit: American Psychological Association.