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Finding the date of undated materials online

One of the quintessential parts of the student experience is the writing of reports, essays, and articles. As any student will tell you, one of the important things to keep track of when writing, is the source material for any claims you make, which are listed in the reference list at the end, as well as denoted throughout the text.

Under the Harvard citation style, there are two kinds of references, in-line, and listed. In-line references are the ones dotted throughout the text, and look something like this: “Quotation from reference (Author, YYYY)”, whereas the listed references are the ones found in the reference list look something like this: “Author, YYYY, Title, Place of publication”.

Now, the who and where are simple enough, they are simply the author and where you found it. The when is usually straight-forward; books oftenmost list publication year, journals usually list publication year and month, and daily newspapers more or less always list the exact date. Personal websites, as well as PDFs, can get a bit trickier to date, though. Despair not, there are ways to go about it.

To find the date of a webpage, try looking at the page information in your browser for a ‘created’ or ‘modified’ date. This is usually found by right-clicking on the webpage and selecting the appropriate option, but it isn’t always available. For PDF documents, you can look at the document properties or locate the webpage where the PDF can be downloaded from, as this often contains reference information such as author and date.

If, after going through these steps, you find that you are unable to find the date, there is a solution; in place of the year of publication, enter n.d. (for no date).

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