How to cite in APA when there are no authors

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Published October 28, 2020. Updated September 5, 2021.

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This article covers how to cite in APA Style (7th ed.) when there are no known authors for a reference or when the author is unknown or cannot be reasonably determined. Before treating a reference as though it has no author, consider whether a group or organization (such as a government agency, association, nonprofit organization, business, hospital, task force, or study group) could be the author by checking the cover or title page.

Citing in-text when there are no authors

APA 7th ed. uses the author-date citation system for citing references in-text. In parenthetical citations, this structure includes the author’s last name and the publication year (with a comma separating them) in parentheses. In narrative citations, the author’s last name is incorporated into the sentence.

Parenthetical citation for source with author:

(Author Last Name, Year Published)

(Cheung, 2013)

Narrative citation for source with author:

Author Last Name (Year Published)

Cheung (2013)

If a reference has an unknown author, the title of the work substitutes as the author name in the in-text citation.

  • The title should have each significant word capitalized (basically sentence case).
  • If the source is not italicized in the reference list entry, place the title in quotation marks (“”) in the in-text citation.
    • This means it is part of a larger work (like a magazine article within a magazine).
  • If the source title is italicized in the reference list entry, italicize the title in the in-text citation (example: books).

No author, source title italicized:

(Source title, Year Published)

(Park Avenue Summer, 2019)

No author, source title in quotes:

(“Source title,” Year Published)

(“22 New apple varieties,” 1997)

Author designated as “Anonymous”

Only use the capitalized word “Anonymous” in place of the author’s name when it’s overtly designated, not as a general substitute for a reference with an unknown author.

“Anonymous” as author name:

(Anonymous, Year Published)

(Anonymous, 2020)

Citing in the reference list when there are no authors

To add a reference with no author to the reference list, first move the title of the reference to the author position. For further information on creating reference list citations, see this guide on APA citations.

Reference list examples:

Park avenue summer. (2019). Penguin Random House.

“22 New apple varieties.” (1997). Food Magazine. https://foodmag.com/article/1997/22-new-apple-varietites

Author designated as “Anonymous”

If the reference is overtly signed “Anonymous,” then you can add the entry to the reference list as if “Anonymous” were the author’s last name.

Anonymous. (2020). Navigating the high seas. Sea Life. https://sealife.gov

Alphabetizing the reference list for sources with no known author

Reference list entries without an author are alphabetized by the first significant word of the title.

  • Ignore the words “A,” “An,” and “The” when putting your reference list in order.
  • Begin the entry with the word “Anonymous” only if the work is signed “Anonymous.”
  • If the reference has no author and is not signed “Anonymous,” then you can alphabetize it in the reference list based on the work’s title.
  • If the title begins with a number, alphabetize the reference as though the number were spelled out. For example, you would alphabetize the number 22 as though it were written as the word “twenty-two.”

Alphabetical order of reference list example:

Anonymous. (2020). Navigating the high seas. Sea Life. https://sealife.gov

Park avenue summer. (2019). Penguin Random House.

“22 New Apple Varieties.” (1997). Food Magazine. https://foodmag.com/article/1997/11/new-apple-varietites


Published October 28, 2020.


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How do I cite a source with no author or no date in APA?

To cite a source with no author or no date in APA style, it is important that you know some basic information such as the title of the work, publisher if it is a book reference or volume and page details if it is a journal reference, and/or URL (uniform resource locator). The templates and examples for in-text citation and reference list entry of a book with no author and a book with no date are given below.

Book with no author

In-text citation template and example:

Books with no author in general, but not always, are given as parenthetical citations. If the book does not have an author, cite it by its title. If the title is too long, shorten the title in the in-text citation. Italicize the title in the in-text citation. Follow title case in the in-text citation even though the book title is in sentence case in the reference list entry. A parenthetical citation might look like this:

(Title of the Book, Publication Year)

(The Cultural Politics of Emotion, 2014)

Reference list entry template and example:

Title of the book. (Publication Year). Publisher.

The cultural politics of emotion. (2014). Edinburgh University Press

The title of the book is in italics and sentence case. While arranging the reference entry alphabetically in the reference list, arrange the entry by treating the title as author name. Remember that articles (A, An, and The), if present at the beginning of the title, should not be considered for alphabetization. When you have a numeral used in the title, consider it to be in the spelled-out form and arrange it accordingly in the reference list.

 Book with no date

In-text citation template and example:

If you cite a book without a date, use “n.d.” in place of the year.

Narrative:

Author Surname (Publication Year)

Cohen (n.d.)

Parenthetical:

Author Surname (Publication Year)

(Cohen, n.d.)

Reference list entry template and example:

Title of the book. (Publication Year). Publisher.

Cohen, J. (n.d.). Statistical power analysis for the behavioural sciences (2nd ed.). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

How do I cite a book in APA when no author is given?

To cite a book with no author in APA style, it is important that you know some basic information such as the title of the book, publisher, and/or URL (uniform resource locator). The templates for in-text citation and reference list entry of a book along with examples are given below:

In-text citation template and examples:

Books with no author in general, but not always, are given as parenthetical citations. If the book does not have an author, cite it by its title. If the title is too long, shorten the title in the in-text citation. Italicize the title in the in-text citation. Follow title case in the in-text citation even though the book title is set in sentence case in the reference list entry. A parenthetical citation might look like this:

(Title of the Book, Publication Year)

(Addressing Uncertainty in Oil and Natural Gas Industry, 2009)

Reference list entry template and example:

Title of the book. (Publication Year). Publisher. URL

Addressing uncertainty in oil and natural gas industry greenhouse gas inventories: Technical considerations and calculation methods. (2009). American Petroleum Institute. http://www.api.org/~/media/Files/EHS/climate-change/Addressing_Uncertainty.pdf

You need to set the title of the book in italics and sentence case. While arranging the reference entry alphabetically in the reference list, arrange the entry by treating the title as author name. Remember that articles (A, An, and The), if present at the beginning of the title, should not be considered for alphabetization. When you have a numeral used in the title, consider it to be in the spelled-out form and arrange it accordingly in the reference list.