Like, this document, for instance: https://www.rfc-editor.org/rfc/rfc791

It's an official Internet Engineering Taskforce document that defines things like network protocols, etc. Often times there's really no specific individual(s) credited as the author(s), and even the official title can seem ambiguous.

The information on the title page is:


September 1981

prepared for
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Information Processing Techniques Office

1400 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, Virginia 22209

Information Sciences Institute
University of Southern California

4676 Admiralty Way
Marina del Rey, California 90291

So what's the official title and who get's the credit; DARPA, IPTO, ISI, USC, or IETF? I was going to do something like below, but I thought I should check with you guys.

DARPA. (1981, September). Internet Protocol Specification. RFC 791. Retrieved from https://www.rfc-editor.org/rfc/rfc791

  • How do people in your field do it? I doubt that the Internet Protocol Specification has never been cited before Sep 27, 2018 at 0:32
  • 1
    You should indeed check what people in your field do, but generally the late RFC editor Jon Postel gets the credit, as he edited this report. The RFC organization has prepared a list of references in their reference style. I'm not sure how this would be written in the APA style, so I'm leaving this as a comment.
    – Anyon
    Sep 27, 2018 at 2:07

2 Answers 2


The APA Style blog walks you through citations with missing info. There is also how to cite a book with no author or editor. You seem to be using DARPA as the author, but from the title page, it seems mote likely that ISI/USC is the institutional author. If you dig deeper, the linked document lists Postel as the editor. In that case you just do a book without an author, but with an editor: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/reference_list_books.html

Edited Book, No Author

Duncan, G. J., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (Eds.). (1997). Consequences of growing up poor. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.

  • First person to post a complete, appropriate citation for the document in question (RFC 791) wins the cigar.
    – voices
    Oct 27, 2018 at 15:55
  • These other answers are fine, but all pale in comparison to the real thing.
    – voices
    Oct 27, 2018 at 15:56

There is a post about how to cite RFCs using BibTeX which says:

  author = {Y. Shafranovich},
  url = {http://www.rfc-editor.org/rfc/rfc4180.txt}

Taking the first entry in the link posted by @Anyon:
RFC0001 | | Crocker, S., "Host Software", RFC 1, DOI 10.17487/RFC0001, April 1969, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc1>.

Then a BibTeX entry would look like:

  author = {S. Crocker},
  title = {Host Software},
  howpublished = {Internet Requests for Comments},
  type = {RFC},
  number = 1,
  year = {1969},
  month = {April},
  issn = {2070-1721},
  publisher = {RFC Editor},
  institution = {RFC Editor},
  doi = {10.17487/RFC0001},
  url = {http://www.rfc-editor.org/rfc/rfc1.txt}

I have inserted the DOI entry based on https://tex.stackexchange.com/a/3803/142724.

Then, in APA style, the reference would look something like:
Crocker, S. (1969). Host Software. RFC 1. doi:10.17487/RFC0001

The Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) publish a number of journals and conference proceedings in which RFCs are cited, so finding an example there may also help.

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