Sometimes the information needed to create a reference list entry is missing or unknown. When this is the case, there are various strategies to adapt the reference.

The following table shows the basic structure of an APA Style reference to a published work, adapted for missing information, along with the corresponding in-text citations. Refer to the reference examples and Chapters 9 and 10 of the Publication Manual for specific details for the type of work being cited.

Missing reference information is covered in Section 9.4 of the  APA Publication Manual, Seventh Edition

Missing
element

Solution

Template

Reference list entry

In-text citation

Nothing—all
elements are present

Provide the author, date, title, and source of the work.

Author. (Date). Title. Source.

(Author, year)

Author (year)

Author

Provide the title, date, and source.

Title. (Date). Source.

(Title, year)

Title (year)

Date

Provide the author, write “n.d.” for “no date,” and then provide the title and source.

Author. (n.d.). Title. Source.

(Author, n.d.)

Author (n.d.)

Title

Provide the author and date, describe the work in square brackets, and then provide the source.

Author. (Date). [Description of work]. Source.

(Author, year)

Author (year)

Author and
date

Provide the title, write “n.d.” for “no date,” and then provide the source.

Title. (n.d.). Source.

(Title, n.d.)

Title (n.d.)

Author and
title

Describe the work in square brackets, and then provide the date and source.

[Description of work]. (Date). Source.

([Description of work], year)

[Description of work] (year)

Date and title

Provide the author, write “n.d.” for “no date,” describe the work in square brackets, and then provide
the source.

Author. (n.d.). [Description of work]. Source.

(Author, n.d.)

Author (n.d.)

Author, date,
and title

Describe the work in square brackets, write “n.d.” for “no date,” and then provide the source.

[Description of work]. (n.d.). Source.

([Description of work], n.d.)

[Description of work] (n.d.)

Source

Cite as a personal communication or find another work to cite (see the Publication Manual for more information).

No reference list entry

(C. C. Communicator, personal communication, month day, year)

C. C. Communicator (personal communication, month day, year)

Anonymous Authors

For a missing author, do not use “Anonymous” as the author unless the work is actually signed “Anonymous.” If the work is signed “Anonymous,” use “Anonymous” in the reference and in-text citation.

Anonymous. (2017). Stories from my time as a spy. Bond Publishers.

  • Parenthetical citation: (Anonymous, 2017)
  • Narrative citation: Anonymous (2017)

If the work is not actually signed “Anonymous,” the title moves to the beginning of the reference and is used in place of the author name, as shown in the table.

Presentation of the Date

The date in the reference list entry for a work with a publication date may be a year only, and month and year, or a specific date (e.g., a month, day, and year); however, in the in-text citation, provide the year only.

For an in-press work, use “in press” for the date in both the reference list entry and in-text citation.

For a work with no date, use “n.d.” in both the reference list entry and the in-text citation.

Italics in the Title and Source

Italic formatting within the title or source varies by reference and is not shown in the table. In general, the title is italicized for a work that stands alone (e.g., book, report, webpage on a website), and some part of the source is italicized for a work that is part of a greater whole (e.g., journal article, newspaper article).

See the reference examples and Chapters 9 and 10 of the Publication Manual for information on what to italicize within a reference.