• 3-minute read
  • 17th October 2018

Missing Information in Chicago Author–Date Referencing

Do you feel like something is missing from your life? Well, if what you’re missing is source information for a college paper, you’re in the right place! That’s because, in this post, we’re looking at how to handle missing information in Chicago author–date referencing.

No Named Author

Finding that a source doesn’t have a named author is a common problem. The best response is usually to cite an organizational author.

For example, if we were citing a UNICEF report without a named author in Chicago author–date referencing, we could write:

Recent campaigns have been more successful (UNICEF 2017).

You would then use the organization name in the reference list at the end of the document, too. However, if there is no suitable organizational author to cite, the Chicago Manual of Style recommends using the source title instead. If the title is too long, though, you may want to shorten it in citations:

In-Text Citation

The organization has been criticized (“Problems with Planning…” 2015).

Reference List Entry

“Problems with Planning for a Sustainable Future on an International Scale.” 2015. Accessed 28 August, 2018. https://medium.com/story/problems-planning-sustainable-future-international-scale-44a21e9c531

The title is in quote marks here because it is an article. However, the correct formatting depends on the source type (e.g., italics for a book title).

No Year of Publication

When a source does not specify a year of publication, use the abbreviation “n.d.” after a comma:

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The public was canvassed for solutions (Jackson, n.d.).

This stands for “no date.” You should also use “n.d.” in the reference list entry for the source at the end of your document.

However, “n.d.” is only used for an online source when it doesn’t have either:

  1. A date of publication
  2. Or a date for when the page was last updated

If either of these are available, use them instead. Remember to check the web page carefully, too, as this information will not always be easy to spot.

No Place of Publication or Publisher

In a Chicago reference list, you should list books with a place of publication and publisher. But if you cannot find either of these details, you can use the abbreviation “n.p.” instead. This is short for either “no place” or “no publisher” depending on how it is used.

You could use other Latin abbreviations to avoid this ambiguity: e.g., “s.l.” and “s.n.,” which stand for sine loco (without a place of publication) and sine nomine (without a named publisher) respectively.

However, the Chicago Manual of Style says that “n.p.” is more likely to be understood in English-language publications. You should therefore use this unless instructed otherwise.

Summary: Missing Information in Chicago Referencing

Chicago referencing indicates missing information as follows:

  • No author = Use the source title instead
  • No year of publication = Use the abbreviation “n.d.”
  • No place of publication = Use the abbreviation “n.p.”
  • No publisher = Use the abbreviation “n.p.”

However, remember to check before using these options. The information will be available somewhere in most cases, even if it is not immediately easy to see. And if you need help checking your referencing, get in touch today.

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