When writing papers I sometimes discover texts online which are published without any kind of name attached. Often times these individuals want to be anonymous or simply do not reference themselves in the work. Should I just use the word "anonymous" or is there a better way to cite that individual in APA or Turabian style?

  • Are you asking if there is an alternate way to citing these sources apart from the way recommended by APA or Turabian? As in are you looking for alternate citing strategies (for example, Harvard style) or is your question about how to cite them using these styles? I believe its the latter but please clarify. Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 18:09
  • You may also want to question whether you should utilize anonymous sources. Using them in a formal/educational paper is sometimes frowned upon, especially when using them to support a thoery
    – James
    Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 20:17
  • It might go without saying, but with APA, at least, you don't use "anonymous" unless the original work is attributed to anonymous.
    – Chris
    Commented Jan 19, 2014 at 1:24
  • If you're writing in APA style, you might want to invest in a copy of the style guide for yourself. Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 13:14

3 Answers 3


As per APA guidelines, to cite anonymous authors:

Unknown Author: If the work does not have an author, cite the source by its title in the signal phrase or use the first word or two in the parentheses. Titles of books and reports are italicized or underlined; titles of articles, chapters, and web pages are in quotation marks.

A similar study was done of students learning to format research papers ("Using APA," 2001).

Note: In the rare case the "Anonymous" is used for the author, treat it as the author's name (Anonymous, 2001). In the reference list, use the name Anonymous as the author.

The Chicago style recommends the following when the author is unknown:

Sources that have no known author or editor should be cited by title. Follow the basic format for "Footnote or Endnote" and "Corresponding Bibliographical Entry" that are exemplified above omitting author and/or editor names and beginning respective entries with the title of the source.

The Turabian style is almost the same as Chicago so I guess the above holds. If you are being very specific, this is the place to look for Turabian. It gives the following examples:

Bibliography: The Book Title: A Subtitle; A Second Subtitle. CityOfPublication: PublisherName, PublishedYear.

Footnote: The Book Title: A Subtitle; A Second Subtitle (CityOfPublication: PublisherName, PublishedYear), pageNr.

Author-only shortened note: Book Title, pageNr.

Author-title shortened note: Book Title, pageNr.

Title capitalization: Headline style

Reference: The book title: A subtitle; A second subtitle. PublishedYear. CityOfPublication: PublisherName.

Parenthetical: (Book title PublishedYear, pageNr)

Title capitalization: Sentence style


In such a situation, you may do two things. You may either cite the link or source referring to its title or you may cite it as “anonymous” in your references. The title of the book can be referred to in the bibliography in the name of “anonymous”.


Kindness can be spread through communication. --No matter what may be different.. "anonymous"

  • Hi Pete, welcome to writing.se! Take the tour and visit the help center for more information. Generally we look for answers that not only give an example of quoting but explain how and why that is the best way to do it, preferably with supporting evidence. If you can edit your post to explain why this is a good way to cite an anonymous author. Good luck and happy writing!
    – linksassin
    Commented Oct 3, 2020 at 0:43

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