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APA Referencing: Common Mistakes and Their Fix

You are reading about the APA reference style implies that you have done the content writing task. The next step after crafting the content of the paper is to edit it. Many students skip the editing part and forget to look at the grammar and the punctuation. They have to check for spelling and look for the accuracy of the structure of the paragraph. Along with this, they need to look for APA format and its correct implementation. The students who do not take the referencing task seriously, often tend to commit errors in it. The importance of the APA style is high, and it has to be covered without any flaw.

Let us have a look at the mistakes the students make. This would help you to avoid them in your paper.

  1. Invalid Header-

The running header is often missed by the students, or we can say students write incorrect header. According to a survey conducted by JEPS, Journal of European Psychology Students in 2103, 4/5th of the essays submitted by the students were either improperly formatted or running header was absent in them.


How to write a running head?

  • Include a shortened version of the title justified at the left side
  • Right-side justification of the page numbers
  • Font= Times New Roman with 12 size

Tip- Write the running header before writing the content of the essay or the academic paper. It will help you in keeping in mind writing the header.


  1. Improper in-text citations-

Citation the research seems a problem for many students. But the high significance of in-text citations has made it a headache and area of trouble for them. Problems faced by more than 84% of the students are proof.


What to do in APA style?

In APA style, there is a need to write the last name of the author along with the publication year while citing the research work. In case, you are specifying the page numbers and using any quotations in your work; then these have to be included in it.

  • Include the last name and the publication year either at the beginning or at the end of the statement
  • In case, there are no proper dates mentioned, use “n.d.”
  • If there is no author name specified, then you can use a shortened version of the title
  • Make a reference page at the end of the paper including all the resources

Do you have multiple author names to be cited?

APA style guide to place the last names in the alphabetical order.


  1. Errors while adding quotations

Students skip mentioning the exact page number of the original source while paraphrasing. APA referencing includes the addition of the page numbers.

What is there are no page numbers mentioned in the original source?

  • Write paragraph number and abbreviations of the headings
  • Paragraph number

Keeping credibility of the paper grab the teachers’ attention. So, to maintain it, add direct quotations from the quality sources.


  1. Missing one author’s name out of the two-

What to do when there are two authors of the same research?

The students sometimes skip either one of them or cite them improperly. Imperfections include missing the commas, putting the publication year at the wrong place.

How to write when there are:

  1. Two authors?

  • Include adding between the name as well as the end of the year by including the authors in the signal phrase: Reports by Kayla and Doe (2016) states that…
  • Use “&” to separate the last names and a comma for the year (Kayla & Lee, 2016)
  1. Three to five authors?

  • Listing of the authors in the signal phrase or parentheses. Here, commas are to be used until the last two names and then “&” is to be added and a comma separates the list of the authors and the publishing year (Kayla, Smith, Doe, Lee& Neiland, 2016)
  • Usage of the first author’s last name in the subsequent references which is followed by “et al.” (Kayla et al., 2016)
  1. Six or more?

In this case, use the last name of the first author and follow it by “et al.” (Kayla et al.,2016)

Following APA referencing can get you more marks as compared to the case when you don’t follow it. Avoid these errors and pass your paper writing task with flying colours.

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