APA style incorrect

In APA, the work cited page should have the following format:

Couros, G. (2015). The innovator’s mindset: empower learning, unleash talent, and lead a culture of creativity. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting.(with a hanging indent). Title is all lowercase except for the first letter of the first word. Location and publisher also should be there. But the add-on only give the following:

Couros, G. (2015). The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity. (with a hanging indent). The first letter of each word is capitalized, and location and publisher are missing.

The idea of this tool is great, but not helpful is the citations/work cited page is wrong.


I have the same problems @David_Tran. Additionally, I get other errors such( i.e. a paper listing 3 authors shows up in the paperpile search listing the first 2 with … after. After selecting it, it completely ignores 3rd author and is it missing from in text citations and reference lists created by paperpile).

One other problem it has is listing multiple authors of a book in the wrong order.

Just more than one problems leads me to not fully trust the output of paperpile, even though the idea of the tool is great.

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Has there been any progress on this? I just got docked way too many points because of this problem.

My fault, I know - I didn’t check. But does for sure diminish my desire to keep using if this is a known problem, and this still isn’t something being dealt with.

We run unto a few common errors/complaints with the APA style in particular but other styles as well. Given the title of this post I will address a few of them here.

1. The title is not in Sentence Case
The APA style guide specifies that titles should be in Sentence Case, however, the default APA style used by Paperpile (and Mendeley and Zotero) does not apply this specification. The main reason for this is that there is n way to identify proper nouns. For example, the title “An analysis of the labor conditions at Beringer Gold mines” would mistakenly be written as “An analysis of the labor conditions at beringer gold mines” if sentence case were enforced.

If this is not a concern for you, use this edited style: apa-sentence-case-v2.csl (21.5 KB) You can add it by going to the gear in the upper right of Paperpile --> Settings --> Citation Styles --> Upload CSL file. If you have additional differences between this style file and the style guide, let me know and I will attempt to edit it.

2. Author names include first names, extra initials and/or middle names.
This usually happens when two items from the same author are cited, but the author names are not identical. For example, suppose two articles by Paul Pierson are cited, but in one the author is is recorded as “Pierson, P” and in the other as “Pierson, Paul”. The expectation is that the intext citations will look like (Pierson 2000) and (Pierson 2005). However, the APA style demands disambiguation when including less information could mistakenly identify different authors as the same. As a result, the actual in-text citations with look like (P. Pierson 2000) and (Paul Pierson 2005). Unfortunately, there are no standards for how authors are recorded by publishers.

The solution to this problem is to ensure that the authors are written the same way in all the cited articles. This can be done by editing the references in your library. If this does not work, the citations may have been disconnected from your library, in which case they can be edited by going to Paperpile --> View all References in the Google Docs menu.

3. Location and Publisher missing
This one is new for me, and the best explanation is that the location and publisher information is missing in the library metadata. This can be edited as above. We are working on improving the quality of book data.

4. In-text citations appear as (Author and Author 2017) where they should be (Author & Author, 2017)
We occasionally get this question. It is a result of not having formatted the citations in which case the citations will appear as blue text in the Pseudo-style we use for our placeholders. The solution is to format citations via Paperpile --> Format Citations in the Google Docs menu.

I may have missed or poorly explained something. If so, please let me know below.

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Thank you SO much for this. This ‘mis-citing’ and 'mis-formatting of citations and references has been driving me mad for weeks. I’d see citations as Smith and Jones, John smith and jones and wh knows what.

Given that all names cited have to be EXACTLY the same format, is there any way to fix this en masse in the reference library? Ie, can we change all ‘Smith, John’ references to Smith, J easily, rather than having to do each one individually? Thanks again Philip

very interesting! thanks for the info, Jason. One thing you might want to consider doing is by attacking this problem in reverse. So, instead of identifying proper nouns, you could identify words that are NOT common words. The solution would work like this:
0. create a setting (check for proper nouns) - format checkbox

  1. obtain a list of common English words

for each article added:
2. check each word in the article title against the list
3. if any title word is not in the list, then stop checking and ask the user to identify/correct the title

I guesstimate that a list containing 98-99% of the most common English words would be obtainable and not too long. If you used a 90% list, that would be very short (i.e., would not take long to run during import) Therefore, the only words not corrected would be proper nouns that are also common English words (e.g., Gold Mines).

Hi everyone. I am still having the problem someone else reported 4 years ago with in text citations in APA. When an article has 5 authors the in text citation only shows the first and et al. even the first time it appears in the text. This is incorrect for APA format. I noticed this was not addressed in this reply along with the other issues. Any suggestions?

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Hi @Antara_Satchidanand. Are you using APA 7th edition? If so, please note that style guidelines now require works of three or more authors to be abbreviated from the first time they appear in the text. This is one of a few notable formatting changes which you can read in this external article, or check directly on the APA site. Let me know if you were using another version of the style and keep getting the same issue.

Hi - I am trying to use a system for organizing references. It would be amazing if any of them could actually format references using APA 7th edition. I tried Paperpile and cannot get the citation to change the capitalization from the original data that I put into the system. So – if every word was capitalized on the internet, every word is capitalized by Paperpile.

Is there any way to fix this issue so that I can use APA 7th edition citation practices?

Thank you!

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Thanks for the question, Susan. As I mentioned on our chat exchange, I think we have no choice but to rely on the metadata as it came from the source material. Our system is able to capitalize automatically if the style requires it, but will respect capitalization present in the metadata since it has no choice but to assume those are proper nouns.

So I was playing around with this. This was done importing with ISBN.
What I have learned is that both Paper Pile and Zotero import from meta data differently:

Zotero imports it in and changes to sentence case automatically like so:

Street data: a next-generation model for equity, pedagogy, and school transformation

Paperpile imports it in and makes no changes to sentence case automatically like so:

The Definitive Guide to Instructional Coaching: Seven Factors for Success

Both are wrong for APA 7- In both cases you have to change the title because APA 7 requires a capital letter after the colon: APA Style 6th Edition Blog: Capitalization After Colons

In both cases we have to edit the title of the book before sending it into our reference list.

What I have learned is that if I use the APA style for my titles, and I want to switch to Chicago, the program will, for the most part make the change from sentence style with ease, but will not do the other direction. ie. If it is title style (all capitalized), the program won’t transform it to sentence.

To be fair it is less time consuming to change the one word capital in Zotero than an entire title in paper pile, but for the most part, having the title in APA 7 style in Paperpile before export is required.

The short of this is:
Edit all titles in alignment with APA 7 if you plan to use APA7 in Papepile.
Paperpile could figure out how Zotero brings theirs in with a sentence case conversion and then it works for most people- don’t forget to program it to use capital letter after the colon.

@Linda_Doyle thank you for sharing your thoughts.This is a problem that the dev team is aware of. You are right that Zotero does automatic sentence case, but that has the problem of converting proper nouns to lower case. In the new web app, for which we will be calling for beta testers shortly, it will be easier to change the case of a title to sentence case in the Edit metadata dialog. The new web app will use AI to automatically detect proper nouns, so we hope that it goes some way towards solving the problem.

+1 to this thread. So disappointing to have to edit every single reference metadata to do proper APA capitalization, etc. And nothing in the product warns you about it, like if you choose APA it should warn you that you have to fix it all manually.