• 3-minute read
  • 7th April 2019

Missing Information in Chicago Author–Date Referencing

Do you feel like there’s something missing from your life? Well, if what you’re missing is source information from an essay or dissertation, you’re in the right place! That’s because we’re taking a look at how to handle missing information in Chicago author–date referencing.

No Named Author

Finding a source with no named author is a common problem. The best response is usually to cite an organisational author.

For example, in Chicago author–date referencing, if we needed to cite a UNICEF report without a named author, we would write:

Recent campaigns have been more successful (UNICEF 2017).

We would then use the organisation name in the reference list at the end of the document, too. However, if there is no suitable organisational 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 organisation has been criticised (‘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).

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No Year of Publication

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

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. A date when the page was last updated.

If either of these are available, use them instead. Make sure 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, books should be listed with a place of publication and publisher. If this information is missing, however, you can use the abbreviation ‘n.p.’ in their place. This is short for either ‘no place’ or ‘no publisher’ depending on how you use it.

You can sometimes use Latin abbreviations to avoid this ambiguity. For instance, ‘s.l.’ and ‘s.n.’ stand for sine loco (without a place of publication) and sine nomine (without a named publisher). However, the Chicago Manual of Style suggests 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:

  • Author missing = Use the source title instead.
  • Year of publication missing = Use the abbreviation ‘n.d.’
  • Place of publication missing = Use the abbreviation ‘n.p.’
  • Publisher missing = Use the abbreviation ‘n.p.’

However, remember to check carefully before using any of these. The missing 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 with Proofed today.

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