APA In-Text Citation for Sources Without an Author: A Comprehensive Guide


Navigating the intricacies of the American Psychological Association (APA) citation format can be complex and confusing – particularly when referencing sources without an author. This comprehensive guide aims to demystify the process, providing clear instructions on how to correctly use APA in-text citation for sources without an author.

What is APA in-text citation?

APA in-text citation is a referencing style by the American Psychological Association. This system allows readers to identify the sources consulted by the author and locate them quickly. The APA in-text citation generally includes the name of the author and the publication year. However, citing sources without an author requires a different approach.

APA Citation for a Source with No Author

When citing a source with no author, the APA protocol is to substitute the author’s name with the title of the source. The title should be written in sentence case, meaning only the first word and any proper noun are capitalized. Additionally, if your source is a book, report, or webpage, you should italicize the title. If, however, your source is an article, chapter, or webpage within a website, enclose the title in quotation marks.

If the source has no identifiable author, and it is online, cite the name of the website. If it is a book or a print source, use a shortened version of the title followed by the year of publication.


  1. In the case of a book:

    • In-text citation: ("The Art of Seeing," 1981)
  2. If it is an article:

    • In-text citation: ("Amazing Photography Tricks," 2007)
  3. If it is an entire website:

    • In-text citation: (National Geographic, n.d.)

Subsequent Citations

For subsequent citations of the same source within the document, you can shorten the title if it is too long, using the first few words, provided it doesn’t compromise the uniqueness and recognition of the source.


  1. First citation: ("The Art of Seeing," 1981)

    • Subsequent citations: ("Art of Seeing," 1981)
  2. First citation: ("Amazing Photography Tricks," 2007)

    • Subsequent citations: ("Photography Tricks," 2007)

Group or Corporate Author

Sometimes, the author could be an organization or a corporation. In such cases, write the organization name in full during the first citation, unless the organization is widely recognized by its abbreviation.


  1. First citation: (United Nations Children’s Fund [UNICEF], 2019)
    • Subsequent citations: (UNICEF, 2019)

Precautions when Employing APA In-Text Citation for Sources Without an Author

  1. Citing Multiple Works: If you are citing multiple works in one parenthesis, arrange them in the same order as they appear in the reference list. Also, separate them by a semicolon.

    • Example: ("Science for All," 2006; "World Science," 2011)
  2. Multiple Works with Similar Titles: In such cases, include enough keywords from the title to make it distinguishable from other titles.

  3. Missing Date: If there is no date available, use the abbreviation ‘n.d.’ in place of the year.

    • Example: ("Art of Seeing," n.d.)
  4. Accuracy: Ensure the in-text citation corresponds with the reference entry. The main aim is to allow your reader to easily track down your source.


Despite being a somewhat daunting task, understanding the APA in-text citation for sources without an author is integral for academic writing. Conforming to these guidelines maintains your credibility as a writer and respects intellectual property rights. Remember, when in doubt, it’s always better to over-cite than to under-cite.

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