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How do I cite something when I don't have all the information?

Finding the information you need to cite sources

Books

Search for the title of the book in the Library Catalogue or Discovery Search. The book's record will give you all the citation elements you need to cite it.

Typical book citation elements:
Title, Author, Place of Publication, Publisher, Date of Publication.
Journal articles

Search for the article title either in the Discovery Search, Google, or Google Scholar. The article record, in the Discovery Search or on the publisher website, will give you all the citation elements you need to cite it:

Typical journal article citation elements:
Title of the Article, Author, Title of the Journal, Volume and Issue Number, Date of Publication, Page Numbers.
Finding the information you need to cite books and articles [1:28 minutes]. Download video as powerpoint slides.

Citing a source when there are elements missing

Some elements, such as author, journal issue, page numbers, or DOI can be tricky to track down or may not exist. If you've done all you can to find all of the citation elements but some are still missing, note that a few citation styles allow you to use placeholders or abbreviations.

Check out the different citation style guides or contact a librarian if you are unsure how to cite a source with missing elements.

Identifying a source when you're not sure what it is

Perhaps you have a print or online document but are not sure what it is (a book chapter? an article? a report?), or your professor has cited a source in a syllabus, but the citation is incomplete. The best way to find out what this document is would be to search for the title, or as much identifying information as possible, in Google or Google Scholar.

Example: Identifying a source
Identifying a source when you're not sure what it is [1:13 minutes]. Download video as powerpoint slides.
Take note!

If you are still having difficulties identifying a source, contact a librarian.

page last updated on: Monday 22 January 2018
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