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Home » Student Writing Assistance » Top 7 Common Errors and How to Fix Them

Top 7 Common Errors and How to Fix Them

1. Punctuation goes after an in-text citation.
  • Incorrect: Research suggests family stability is a crucial component to the health and well-being of a child. (Tasca et al., 2011).
  • Correct: Research suggests family stability is a crucial component to the health and well-being of a child (Tasca et al., 2011).
2. Numerals

Write out numbers under ten.

  • The survey has seven questions.
  • The email was forwarded to all 125 employees.
  • There were 10 people at the party.

Write out number if it is the first word in a sentence.

  • Two doors were left unlocked.
3. APA citation errors

Titles of journal articles: Capitalize the first word of the title, proper nouns, and the first word after a colon. All other words should be lowercase.

  • Wegener, D. T., Kerr, N. L., Fleming, M. A., & Petty, R. E. (2000). Flexible corrections of juror judgments: Implications for jury instructions. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 6, 629-654.

Journal title and volume number should be italicized:   

  • Harlow, H. F. (1983). Fundamentals for preparing psychology journal articles. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 55, 893-896.
4. Comma splice

A comma splice is when a comma is used to connect two complete clauses. An easy way to identify a comma splice is to ask yourself if the two clauses could stand on their own as complete sentences.

  • Incorrect: Eighty-two people took the survey, the researched had hoped for 100.

The are a few ways to fix this error:

  • Correct: Eighty-two people took the survey; the researched had hoped for 100.
    • Use a semicolon to join the two clauses.
  • Correct: Eighty-two people took the survey. The researchers had hoped for 100.
    • Use a period to create two sentences.
  • Correct: Eighty-two people took the survey, but the researchers had hoped for 100.
    • Add a coordinating conjunction after the comma.
5. Comma after an introductory phrase

Introductory phrases should be followed by a comma.

  • Incorrect: While the students did their homework the teacher graded papers.
  • Correct: While the students did their homework, the teacher graded papers.
  • Incorrect: Nevertheless more research is needed.
  • Correct: Nevertheless, more research is needed.
  • Incorrect: Because of the snowstorm school was canceled.
  • Correct: Because of the snowstorm, school was canceled.
6. Comma before a coordinating conjunction

Coordinating conjunctions connect two complete clauses using for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. A comma should go before the conjunction. If you’re having trouble figuring out where to place a comma, it helps to say the sentence out loud and take note of where you naturally pause.

  • Incorrect: The exam was difficult but I think I passed.
  • Correct: The exam was difficult, but I think I passed.
  • Incorrect: The dishwasher is broken so I have to wash the dishes by hand.
  • Correct: The dishwasher is broken, so I have to wash the dishes by hand.
  • Incorrect: We met at the bistro for lunch and afterwards we got ice cream.
  • Correct: We met at the bistro for lunch, and afterwards we got ice cream.
7. Wordiness

Concise writing is strong writing. Remove any unnecessary or convoluted words and phrases.

    • Incorrect: Due to unforeseen weather conditions, the researchers decided that it would be best to relocate the experiment indoors in order to avoid the rain.
    • Correct: The researchers moved the experiment indoors to avoid the rain.
    • Correct: The experiment was moved indoors due to weather conditions.