I have two pages that I would like to cite/reference in a paper. Both pages are located on the Microsoft website (and both represent specifications of document formats). The problem is that there are no authors mentioned in those documents, thus the author is... Microsoft. Both papers are published in 2010.

So in the ref list I have something similar to the following:

[Microsoft, 2010] Microsoft, [paper name], [link] ...
[Microsoft, 2010] Microsoft, [other paper name], [other link] ...

The problem is pretty obvious — I cannot reference those sources since the reference in text will be ambiguous. What does one do in this situation?

  • I think this is off-topic: it's proof-reading or editing advice, not English Language. However the obvious answer is to make your references unique: [Microsoft 2010 (1)] [Microsoft 2010 (2)]
    – Andrew Leach
    May 28, 2012 at 7:23
  • Have you asked the people who have asked you to write the paper? They will have guidelines for citations that you should follow.
    – Matt Эллен
    May 28, 2012 at 7:58
  • Thanks for the comments - I guess that this question does not directly relate to english, but I could not find a better exchange site for this question. And thanks for the suggestion, Andrew. I will use that for now. As for the people who give guidance - they are currently unavailable for me thus I wanted to see if there is a standard way of making such references.
    – Jefim
    May 28, 2012 at 8:15
  • There is no one true referencing system. The one I used at university was the APA guidelines. I think others have referenced the Chicago Manual of Style
    – Matt Эллен
    May 28, 2012 at 9:30

1 Answer 1


I believe the answer is to cite ( and reference ) them as "Microsoft, 2010a" and "Microsoft, 2010b", putting them in date order if you have a more precise date of production, or any order if you don't.

It is also a problem for other authors who are especially prolific, and produce multiple related publications in a year. Most of the time, academic authors will explore a particular topic in multiple ways, and so you can reference just one and get the information, but here, of course, you have a corporation, which can do a whole lot more.

The a,b,c,d approach is the one I have seen, and should be accepted under most schemas.

  • In MLA, my understanding is that you cite the name and abbreviated title ... [Microsoft blah blah blah blah blah ("2010 paper name"). In addition, Microsoft more blah blah blah ("2010 other paper name").] OR [Blah blah blah blah blah (Microsoft, "2010 paper name"). In addition, more blah blah blah (Microsoft, "2010 other paper name").]
    – Jed Oliver
    May 28, 2012 at 17:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.