I am working on a paper in which I cite two resources from an online reference work with no author:

Ransomware. (2016). Malware Protection Center. Retrieved from http://www.microsoft.com/security/portal/mmpc/shared/ransomware.aspx

Ransomware. (2016). TrendMicro. Retrieved from http://www.trendmicro.com/vinfo/us/security/definition/ransomware/#logo

Unfortunately, these two works have identical in-text citations: "('Ransomware,' 2016)." The only material I can find on situations like this is when the authors are the same, and the remedy is to append the letters "a" and "b" to the date, like (2016a). These works, however, do not have the same author, so I do not think this fix can be used. How should I differentiate between these two citations?

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    (1) "These works, however, do not have the same author, so I do not think this fix can be used." - can you explain what having the same author has to do with a disambiguating letter? (2) While you state your two works have no author, you seem to treat the keyword Ransomware as the author name for your in-text citations. (3) I disagree with the assessment that the listed works have no author. The "authors", in this case, are Microsoft Corporation and Trend Micro Inc. Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 18:33
  • @O.R.Mapper I thought the letters were to disambiguate between the first and second work by the same author, not as a general disambiguation tool.
    – user48772
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 18:55
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    @O.R.Mapper "Ransomware" is the title and in APA style you use the title when there is no author. As for if there is an author or not it is tricky (e.g., this APA Style post), but I think you are correct.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 19:05

1 Answer 1


APA style attempts to resolve ambiguity related to the names of authors in both in text citations and the reference list. As far as I am aware, and this APA Style Blog comment confirms my belief, APA style does not attempt to resolve ambiguity about authors. In other words, as far as APA style is concerned in text citations do not need to differentiate between two different people with identical names.

As your example has no listed author, I would argue (although it does not appear to be addressed in the APA Style Guide) that as far as the citation is concerned the authors have the same name. In the case of multiple works with authors with the same name and year the in text citation just appends a, b, c, ... to the year.

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