We’ve asked the WEX editors about the common APA errors they’re seeing in dissertations and have created this list in the hopes writers might have an advantage in self-editing their dissertations. Here we go:
Table of Contents:
- Inconsistent wording from the heading in the text
- Incorrect representation of heading levels
- Incorrect pagination and/or margins
- Incorrect heading levels and/or appropriate margins
- Headings from the text must have identical wording in the Table of Contents
- Having an unnecessary subheading (only one subheading at a given hierarchical level, which means no subheading is warranted)
- Applying Word headings styles to entire paragraphs or empty space, which causes non-heading text to show up in automated Table of Contents
- Misspellings due to homophones (it’s vs its; they’re vs their; too vs to; led vs lead; etc.)
- Using inconsistent or incorrect verb tense when describing published research
- Using future tense in referring to dissertation research (This study will show . . .)
- Using the slash (/) incorrectly when a conjunction should be used (dogs/cats instead of dogs and cats). Or using a slash between two unrelated nouns (“the council/Department of Health”)
- Correct placement of end punctuation:
- In-text citation: “quote” (Mariposa, 2019). (Period follows citation)
- The end of a blocked quote. (Mariposa, 2019) (Period ends quote; no period after citation)
- Single-spacing blocked quotes (according to certain program handbooks)
- Adding an incorrect comma after the first author’s name in a citation using et al.: (Should be Vichy et al.; not Vichy, et al.)
- Wrong order of multiple citations in a single parenthesis; they should be alphabetized according to first author & chronology of each resource.
- Using “&” instead of “and” when integrating multiple authors of a source into a sentence (outside of a parenthetical in-text citation)
- Use of et al. (from neglecting the period for the Latin abbreviation to incorrectly including et al. after the initial citation)
- Making et al. a possessive: It is incorrect to add apostrophe + s to et al.
- Misspelling authors’ names or journal titles
- Capitalizing all words in a title or neglecting to capitalize the word following a colon or dash
- Omitting the ampersand (&) with a work written by 2+ authors
- Including typos in URLs
- Failing to include DOI numbers in references or failing to use consistent format for DOI numbers
- Failing to single space the reference and include an extra line between entries
- Incorrectly italicizing punctuation in the References or Keywords sections (punctuation that is not part of a book or journal title)
- Not following program handbook for pagination of front pages
- Not having appropriate headings for Appendices
- Using incorrect italicization in table headings and figure captions
- Inconsistent spaces between words and/or sentences. Remember, APA indicates single space between sentences.
- Not using en or em dashes properly (See WEX blog, “Dash Away!”)
- Proper use of spelling out numbers and percent vs. 10%, except for the beginning of sentences.
- Overuse of e.g. and/or i.e. (these should not be used more than a couple of times per page)
- Incorrect punctuation when using et al., e.g., and i.e. and neglecting to add the comma after the period (et al.,)
Though it’s always best to hire a professional editor, here at WEX we hope to empower academic writers to become masters of their craft!