menu

How to Reference a Website With No Author


Properly referencing the source from which you retrieved information demonstrates your ethical and thorough approach toward research. This becomes tricky when the source you wish to cite is a website with no author. Depending upon your academic discipline, you will need to emphasize other identifying features of the source to properly cite it in your research.

The Humanities

Researchers in the humanities use a variety of citation styles depending upon their academic department. The most common are the Modern Language Association’s MLA style and the Chicago Manual of Style or CMS. Both of these and other humanities-based styles say to cite the specific name of the Web page first, followed by the name of the entire website of which that page is a part. Some styles such as MLA then indicate that the researcher should cite when she viewed the page, while others such as CMS indicate the researcher should include the URL or Web address. For example, in MLA format, you would cite Purdue's Online Writing Lab website as

The Purdue OWL Family of Sites. The Writing Lab and OWL at Purdue and Purdue U, 2008. Web. 23 Apr. 2008.

Law and Legal Research

Legal researchers in the U.S. use a citation style known as Bluebook. This citation style requires the researcher to include the title of the Web page, the date of the Web page’s publication and the page’s URL. For example, you might cite an authorless report like this:

Conference Report, German Society for Contemporary Theatre and Drama in English, Mediated Drama/Dramatized Media: From Boards to Screens to Cyberspace (Jun. 17-20, 1999), http://fb14.uni-mainz.de/projects/CDE/conf/1999/.

STEM Fields

Like their colleagues in the humanities, researchers working in the sciences, technology, engineering or math -- STEM -- disciplines use a variety of citation styles. The most common citation styles are the American Medical Association and the American Chemical Society styles. Both AMA and ACS call for the name of the Web page, followed by the date which the page was accessed. The AMA also stipulates that the researcher include the title of the website from which the page was retrieved, between the page title and the access date. For example, in AMA style, you'd cite an authorless notice like this:

Outbreak notice: Cholera in Haiti. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/outbreak-notice/haiti-cholera.htm Published October 22, 2010. Updated January 9, 2012. Accessed February 1, 2012.

Social Sciences

In the social sciences, the dominant citation style is American Psychological Association. Of all the citation styles, APA requires the most information about a website with no author. A researcher’s citation must include the title of the Web page, the date the Web page was published, the website from which the page was retrieved, and the Web page’s URL. For example, in APA you'd cite an authorless online encyclopedia entry:

Feminism. (n.d.). In Encyclopædia Britannica online. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/724633/feminism.

About the Author

Samuel Hamilton has been writing since 2002. His work has appeared in “The Penn,” “The Antithesis,” “New Growth Arts Review" and “Deek” magazine. Hamilton holds a Master of Arts in English education from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Master of Arts in composition from the University of Florida.

Photo Credits
  • ERproductions Ltd/Blend Images/Getty Images