Cite an article or content from a Web site with no author or page number
This is definitely a confusing issue, and I think that the APA Manual could do much better with examples for citing content on a web page (the closest example is probably section 7.02, example 30 in the 6th edition). The following video and examples show how to cite information from an article or other electronic content that has no author or date.
The video shows how to cite a website without an author, date, etc. It’s probably helpful to watch the video first, but then make sure to check out the post below because I cover many other examples that aren’t shown in the video walk through.
How to Cite an Electronic Source with No Author or Date in the References List
The basic rule is that, when there is no author, we have to put the title of the article in the author’s position in the reference-list entry. Here is an example from an article from history.com.
Note that this is different from taking an article from a site where the author (either individual or corporate) is known. For instance, if you have an official report from a government agency, nonprofit organization, or corporate site that does not list an author, you could follow some of the examples in APA section 7.03).
In any case, back to our example of a site that is a little less clear:
U.S.-Mexican war. (n.d.). The History Guy website. Retrieved from http://www.historyguy.com/Mexican-American_War.html
A few important notes about formatting your reference-list entry:
- If you do have a date for the article, then cite it like this: U.S.-Mexican War. (2012, March 4). The month is not abbreviated.
- Put the article title in place of the author, and use the general Web site name in italics. Then put the actual Web site as your retrieval link. Note that APA 6 does not include a period after the url (APA 6.32, p. 192).
- APA usually follows Merriam-Webster for spelling, but for some reason the guide deviates from M-W’s spelling of “Web site” and uses “website” in the references (see APA chap. 7). So use the spelling website in your actual references.
- There is no colon after the word from.
- In APA 6th edition, do not use a retrieval date unless the material is likely to change later. In this case it seems that the author has established his articles on the site, so I did not include a retrieval date in the example above, but the argument could be made that this material could change too. Another good example of potentially changing material is Wikipedia (although really in APA none of the examples in this post would be scholarly enough for inclusion in your article…stick to articles published by recognized organizations. I haven’t used such an example here because usually those articles have dates).
In any case, if you want to include a retrieval date for the reason mentioned above, then it would be,
U.S.-Mexican war. (n.d.). The History Guy website. Retrieved May 5, 2012, from http://www.historyguy.com/Mexican-American_War.html
How to Make a Parenthetical Citation of an Electronic Source with No Author or Date in the Text
In all of the examples below, we are sticking with the same theme of an article with no author and no date. I will be using two examples, one that has no author, no date, no page numbers, and no section headings, and another example that is the same except it has section headings.
For a Web Document That Has a Page Number
For this example, I located another citation to use:
Mexico. (n.d.). The History Channel website. Retrieved from http://www.history.com/topics/mexico
So, in the text, because there is no author, we have to cite the first two or three words of the article title in place of the author. This article happens to be separated into pages, so we can use a page number, like this:
Indigenous populations are still very common in many rural areas in Mexico (“Mexico,” n.d., p. 2)
For a Web Page That Has No Page Numbers or Subheadings
However, it is common for articles to not have page numbers on Web sites. Here is an example of another citation that does not have page numbers:
Enough blame to go around: Causes of the Mexican-American War. (n.d.). The Azteca website. Retrieved May 5, 2012, from http://www.mexica.net/war/Mexican-American-War.html
Here we should cite a retrieval date because the article could be updated later. We might guess that the author is the author on the Web site but this is not really specified anywhere so we can’t assume that to be true, so this article has no author, no date, no page numbers, and in this case, no section titles either. So, in the text, we would cite the article like this:
The U.S. president was very influential in the Mexican-American War (“Enough Blame,” n.d., para. 4).
Note that in the parenthetical citation we capitalize the words in the title (APA 6.15), whereas in the references section we use sentence-style capitalization (that is, only capitalize the first word, first word after a colon, and proper nouns; see example in APA 7.01, example 9).
For a Web Page That Has No Page Numbers But Does Have Subheadings
If the article does have subheadings, then include the section and also the paragraph number. I’ll use a different example of an article that actually does have sections so that you can see what I’m talking about:
U.S.-Mexican War—(1846-1848). (n.d.). The History Guy website. Retrieved May 5, 2012, from http://www.historyguy.com/Mexican-American_War.html
Again I only included a retrieval date here because it seems possible that this content could be updated without notice. It is also a good idea for you to print out copies of Web sites like these so that you have a back up in case you are asked to defend the citations later in the process. Of course, you should be citing more academic web pages, so in most cases you will have more information.
So, in the main text, now we can cite a section heading (APA 6th edition gives an example of this in section 6.05 of the manual). Here is our example:
The beginning of hostilities in the U.S.-Mexican war was complex (“U.S. Mexican War,” n.d., Description of Conflict section, para. 2).
If the section title is long and cumbersome, you can use a shortened title–just make sure that the reader can easily locate the section you are referring to.
Note that we have to include all of the information shown in these examples even for paraphrased material. If you quote from a Web site, you would follow the same examples shown in this post except that of course you would include quotation marks around whatever you quote.
Hope this post has been helpful and good luck with your APA web citations!