The referencing style I am using for online newspaper articles is thus:

Karlsen, T.-K. (2013) For scouts, the South American youth tournament is hard slog, not high life. Guardian [Online] 28 January. Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2013/mar/28/scout-south-american-youth-championship-football [Accessed on 28/03/2013]

But how do I reference an article with no obvious author? For example, this is posted on the news website Balkan Insight, but has no author. So far I've been including Balkan Insight where the author name is, but also where the publication name is - i.e. where 'Karlsen' and 'Guardian' are in the previous example. And putting the in-text reference as Balkan Insight (2013).

3 Answers 3


There are probably several answers depending on the situation and on the standards in your field.

First there are papers published in journals with no authors that are referenced as:

Anonymous, yyyy. Paper title ...

In some cases an organization can be the author. this is true for, for example, governmental organizations, NGO's etc. In these cases the publications are offically published. References would be listed under the organization (often abbreviated) such as:

WMO (World Meteorological Organization), yyyy. Publication title ...

To reference online material is always a bit more complicated but I guess the anonymous author can be used and the source organization listed as the "Publisher" such as the The Guardian in your example. The point is that the source is known but not the author. If you have a lot of these sources there will of course be many "anomymous" floating around in th etext and reference list which may be awkward. In such a case you may consider using the organization as author.

  • 3
    Strangely 114000 papers with "Anonymous" as Author in Google Scholar. I learned something today.
    – Zenon
    Mar 28, 2013 at 22:36
  • 2
    @Zenon Wow, that was far more than I would have ever thought. Productive person! Mar 28, 2013 at 22:38

Citing online articles without a clear author depends on the citation format. The format you use should have clear guidelines.

For example, in Harvard Referencing (the most common in my field) if there is a publisher but no clear author then the publisher is considered the author. In your case, Balkin Insight would be the author. Following this, you are doing it properly (according to Harvard Referencing).


I concur with the opinion of the others that Balkan Insight should be the author based on the information you gave us.

In general, for practical purposes, there is almost always a responsible person or an organisation unless they give their very best to stay anonymous. Usually, I try to find the most applicable one in the following order:

  • The author(s) as on the paper or the website if they were printed.

  • The author(s) of the collection of works if the work belongs to a collection such as a book.

  • The meta information of the document, e.g., from the meta tags of the HTML Web-page or from the PDF meta data.

  • The organisation or person responsible for the Web site containing the document.

  • The organisation or person responsible for the IP address assuming it is static.

If all of the above fails, you have to resort to "Anonymous". However, then you might be doing research on anonymity in the Internet, and you should find a difference representation of your sources than the Bibliography, which would be a bad match for your purposes in this case.

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