As the title suggests, I need to cite a pdf that has no publication date. However, I do have the date that the original text was published. The title I need to cite is Don Quixote. The original text was published in 1605 and I think that the pdf was created in 2017. Should I cite the date as 1605 even though I am referencing a translated pdf and not the original text, or should I cite the date that I think the pdf was created? I have no information on who published this pdf or when it was published. Any help would be appreciated. here is how I am currently citing it: de Cervantes Saavedra,Miguel. Don Quixote, 1605

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    FWIW Project Gutenberg has an HTML version translated by John Ormsby, which contains a release date, and a bit of publishing history.
    – Weather Vane
    Nov 1, 2020 at 19:39
  • I would cite the translation if that’s what you’re quoting from. It doesn’t seem like it’d be too hard to research when the translation was done. You’re citing the work not the medium.
    – Jim
    Nov 1, 2020 at 20:18
  • Citations are not part of the English language, but they are allowed on Writers (although I suspect this might be a duplicate). Nov 2, 2020 at 7:28

1 Answer 1


When there is no date, you should omit it but it's recommended to put a date accessed note on the citation. See https://guides.library.unr.edu/mlacitation/cite-missinginfo

The purpose of citations is to enable a reader to refer to the text that you’re quoting, so for your Don Quixote citation you should absolutely be sure to identify the translator.

In general, the date should be the date of the edition that you're working from, so even if you were working from the original Spanish text of Don Quixote, a citation date of 1605 would be incorrect unless you had an actual first edition that you were referring to.

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