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June 15, 2017

Creating a Reference for a Work Published With a Typo in the Title

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

If there’s a typo in a quotation, you use [sic] to show the reader that the error is in the original source and that you’re faithfully quoting it just as it appeared.

But, what if there’s a mistake in an article’s title? Do you add [sic] to the reference? We recommend not doing that, because it may appear to be part of the reference title. Instead, we recommend using a footnote.

First, know that typos in titles of published journal articles and book chapters are rare. If you think you’ve found a typo, there are a three things to check first:

  1. Focused-businessman-is-reading-through--magnifying-glass-document-400Is it really a typo? Or is it a rhetorical device or an author’s creative license? For example, in a title like “It's More Than Reading, Writing and 'Rithmetic,” the author is aware of the misspelling, and you should not add a footnote. Likewise, you need not add a footnote if the title includes contractions or slang.

    Example article with an intentional misspelling (do not use [sic] or a footnote)
    DeAngelis, T. (2003). It's more than reading, writing and 'rithmetic. Monitor on Psychology, 34(9), 46–47. https://doi.org/10.1037/e319112004-036
  2. Did the typo appear in the published article? Or, is it a typo only in the database, web page, or other source where you found the title? That is, let’s say you discovered an article via a search of the PsycINFO database. If you notice a typo, first determine whether the article was published that way or whether that’s a mistake in the database record only. (If so, let us know, and we’ll correct the record!)

    To do so: First, find a PDF or a print copy of the article. Or, check the publisher’s website. Publishers often offer a free table of contents. If you can’t track down an original, you can always contact the publisher’s office.
  3. Was a correction published? If so, see our earlier post on how to cite a corrected journal article.

If the article title really included a typo, explain in a footnote, if you want to ensure that your readers know that the mistake is not yours.

Example article that published with a typo in the title (explain in a footnote)

Linn, L. (1968). Social identification and the seeking of pyschiatric1 care. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 38, 83–88. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1939-0025.1968.tb00558.x
1The published article includes this typo.

 

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