This page contains answers to common questions, along with some useful tips and tricks.
- Citation Checker reports a discrepancy between a citation and a reference, but they look the same to me. Why?
- The names in the citation and the References are the same, but Citation Checker still reports a discrepancy. Why?
- Why doesn't Citation Checker fix my errors?
- I found a mistake in a reference, but Citation Checker never mentioned it. Why not?
- Citation Checker complains that there must be a section headed by the term "References". My paper uses the term "Bibliography" (or "Literature Cited") instead. What can I do?
- On the report form, most of the buttons are grayed out and I cannot get a discrepancies report. Why not?
- The manuscript I am preparing is required to use Chicago style or MLA style, rather than APA style. Will Citation Checker work?
- Citation Checker really ought to (do something it doesn't do at the moment). Why doesn't it do what I want?
- I would like Citation Checker to appear on a WORD menu, so that I could run it just by clicking. What do I need to do?
- In my paper, I presented an example of a source that reinforced my perspective, and Citation Checker thought my Latin abbreviation "eg" was part of the author's name. Doesn't Citation Checker speak Latin?
- The discrepancies report shows some names differently from the Citations in Manuscript report and the Alphabetic Citations report. Why?
- Citation Checker seems confused about a surname with two parts. It is acting as though the cited author is two people. Why is the program so insensitive?
- I cited a personal communication I had with a Very Important Psychologist. Why did Citation Checker not acknowledge this citation?
- Two papers written by the same authors within a single year were in my References list, but I only cited one of them. However, Citation Checker let me get way with this error. Is the program soft on duplicates?
- Citation Checker claims that some of my references that are not cited in the paper. But I can see the citations in my manuscript. Some are in the body text, others are tucked away in footnotes and/or tables and/or appendices. Is Citation Checker blind?
- On which versions of WORD does Citation Checker work?
- How will updates be made available?
- What new features appeared in Version 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.6, 2.7, 2.8, 3.0, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 3.7, 3.8, 3.9, 3.10, 3.11, 3.12, 3.13, 3.14, 3.15, 3.16, 3.17, 3.18, 4.0, 4.01, 4.02, 4.03, 4.04, 4.05, 5.0, 6.0, 6.01, 6.02, 6.03, 6.1, 6.2, 6.21, 6.22, 6.23, 6.24, 6.25, 7.0, 7.01, 7.02, 7.03, 7.04, 7.05, 7.06, 7.07, 7.08, 7.09, 7.10, and 7.11?
- Citation Checker was in my Tools Menu previously, but now it has disappeared. How can I get it back?
- My colleagues are jealous of my perfect citations and are begging me to give them the program. What can I do to avoid those glares?
- Citation Checker reports that "An error condition has arisen that prevents program execution." What can I do about that?
- Citation Checker worked fine when I first installed it, but now it doesn't. What happened?
- Citation Checker complains that it cannot find an Author Notes page or a Table page or a Figure Caption page. I haven't done those pages yet and just want to make sure the manuscript is in good shape before I go on.
- When I asked if the references were alphabetized, Citation Checker reported that all of them are out of order. I can see that they are not. Does Citation Checker need to learn the alphabet?
- Citation Checker reported a discrepancy between a citation - Washington, Weiss, Thomas, & Shanteau (2012) - and the corresponding reference, whose authors were correctly entered in the references section as Weiss, D. J., Thomas, R. P., & Shanteau, J. (2012). Why did that happen?
- My computer issued a warning that the certificate associated with the template expired on 1/1/2014. What do I need to do?
- Citation Checker reported a problem with a reference prior to one it names. The preceding reference looks fine to me. Why did the program complain?
- What does it mean to Check References Formatting?
- Citation Checker complains that there is a problem with the reference before a named reference. The reference looks fine. What does this really mean?
- Can I use Citation Checker on a dissertation even if I am supposed to use single spacing for the references?
- I corrected some references using WORD's Track Changes function, then ran Citation Checker. It still reported discrepancies. Why didn't the program appreciate my hard work?
The spelling of authors' names must be exactly the same. Look very carefully for letter transpositions within names, the most common and hard-to-see kind of error. If you use an abbreviation in the citation, the program may not recognize its connection to the spelled-out form in the references. Citation Checker knows some well-known acronyms, such as APA or CDC, but its vocabulary is limited.
Citation Checker is very fussy about punctuation. In the references, every author's surname must be followed by a comma, and each of the author's initials must be followed by a period. Names must be separated by a comma, and the surname of the last author must be preceded by an ampersand. These rules follow APA style.
If there is a discrepancy, the program does not know which form is correct. By design, Citation Checker never changes the manuscript, except for the Check References Formatting function. Sometimes the author will be right and the program will be wrong.
In compiling the Discrepancies report, Citation Checker looks only at the first sentence in a reference, the text up to and including the date of publication. It will not see that you have "improved" upon the title of an article or misspelled the journal's name. The Check References Formatting function. introduced in Version 7.0, does look at the entire reference - but it only examines format, not content.
Citation Checker locates the references section by searching for a "References" heading. If your paper does not have that heading, temporarily insert the term "References" on a separate line below the alternate term you are using.
Citation Checker did not find a valid license in the folder in which it is located. The program's functionality is severely limited without a license. If you purchased a license, make sure the license file sent to you (CitationChecker.lic) has been copied into the same folder as the program.
If you have not yet purchased a license, you may do so from the Test + Purchase page.
No. The other styles employ a different structure. Citation Checker works only on papers written in APA style. If you want to get the benefits of checking, prepare your manuscript in APA style, then convert after it is perfect. Although that process sounds inefficient, I personally find it much easier to write a paper using APA style. One reason is that it is fixed, controlled by APA, whereas Chicago and MLA styles are interpreted differently by different journals. So one journal's Chicago style may be subtly different from another journal's variant. After the APA-style manuscript has been checked, employ the Conversion Module, which allows you you tailor the style to a journal's requirements.
It doesn't perform that function either because the programmer didn't think of it or because it was too difficult to implement. Why not pass along your idea through the suggestion page?
That can only occur for WORD versions through 2003 (Word 2007 abolished menus.) The program file (CitationChecker.dot) and the license file (citationchecker.lic) need to be in the Office\Startup folder (by default, Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office (or Office xx)\Startup. CitationChecker will then appear as an item in the Tools Menu. Just click that menu item while the manuscript is active.
Citation Checker is as pretentious as any program. It loves Latin and Greek. But it is very picky about punctuation. To maintain consistency with APA style, Citation Checker requires you to use the correct form [e.g.], [cf.], [i.e.,], [viz.,] or [et al.] within parenthetical expressions. The discrepancies report may look weird if you incorrectly omit an expected period in any of these.
The two lists of citations, Citations in Manuscript and Alphabetic Citations, will incorrectly report an author’s first name if that is included in the manuscript. For example, if the text is “according to David Weiss (2004), random...“, then the citation list will include “David Weiss”. This occurs because the program allows for individual authors to have several names, e.g., American Psychological Association (2003). The discrepancies report handles this case correctly, finding a match if Weiss (2004) appears in the reference list.
A family name with multiple words and no hyphen, such as Feldman Barrett, is mishandled if the citation includes co-authors. The program thinks Feldman and Barrett are separate individuals (and the author has forgotten the comma that should separate them). This is an instance where the user knows more than the program, and should ignore the program's complaint. A hyphenated name with two parts is correctly treated as one name.
Common prefixes that usually do not occur by themselves as family names, such as De, Mac, El, or von, are handled correctly.
Personal communications cited within the manuscript are not reported in the citations list because APA style does not include them in the References list.
If the reference list includes two articles by the same author in the same year, the program will report both are matched even if only one is cited. To be sure that discrepancies are reported accurately, use the 2004a, 2004b format for both citations and references, as called for by the APA manual.
One possibility is that you have put a citation's date in the wrong place. The date needs to immediately follow the author's name. For example, if the text says "Weiss's groundbreaking theory (2010)...", the program will not recognize a citation. The correct format is "Weiss's (2010) groundbreaking theory...".
Citation Checker does know to look for additional citations after the reference list. It resumes searching after it encounters the Author Note page, or an Appendix, or a table, or a list of figure captions. If none of those delimiters is in the manuscript, Citation Checker will not realize the References are over. You may temporarily insert a heading like "Figure Captions" to help Citation Checker understand your intention.
Citation Checker works "perfectly" for the WORD for Windows 2000, 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and 365 versions. It should work with later versions as well (if it does not, please let me know). It works with WORD 97, but a few harmless error messages may appear when the program opens (just say OK to any objections). As of Version 6.0, Citation Checker works on WORD for Mac 2011, and as of Version 7.03, on WORD for Mac 2016. These are full versions of WORD that include support for VBA macros. It will not work with the Office Starter Pack, Office Home and Student, Office RT, Office for iPad, or Office for Android.
If a new version of WORD generates problems, an updated version of Citation Checker will replace the version available on the Test + Purchase page. Personalized licenses for earlier versions will still work. There will never be an additional charge for program upgrades.
If the program is updated, the new version will replace the version that is offered through the Test & Purchase page. Check the page periodically to see if the version available there is a later one than yours. A valid personalized license will unlock any version of the program. That is, a purchaser is entitled to free updates forever.
Actually, there were no new features in Version 2.1. Version 2.1 corrected bugs in the handling of some unlikely corporate authors and authors whose names include two (possibly uncapitalized) prefixes, such as Von der Porten or van der Pligt. Version 2.2 allows the program to ignore editorial markup characters (< and >) and to treat "this volume" in the same way it treats "in press". The latter feature is useful for processing a book containing chapters that cite one another. Version 2.3 corrected a bug that could cause the program to choke if the manuscript contained an unlikely violation of APA style. Version 2.4 corrected how the program handles a name with the suffix "II". Version 2.5 allows the program to handle names that begin with certain characters not used in English, such as Æ or Ö. Because the programmer's knowledge of Icelandic and well, anything but English, is somewhat limited, it would be helpful if users who encounter names that are processed incorrectly were to let me know. Version 2.6 improved the program's handling of corporate authors, including governmental and international agencies. Version 2.7 corrected a minor bug for authors whose names include prefixes. Version 2.8 added searches of embedded footnotes and endnotes for citations. Embedded footnotes and endnotes are not used by journals that follow APA style, but might appear in a book that otherwise conforms to APA guidelines.
Version 3.0 introduced the Conversion Module. Version 3.1 included a minor modification of the Conversion Module, allowing the program to process non-numerical page numbers used for supplements (such as S21) correctly. Versions 3.2 added more conversion options, and also fixed several minor bugs. Version 3.3 fixed an "interesting" bug in which Editors whose second letter of their surname was an "a" would not be converted at all, and also added a new option needed for a journal that does not use commas after surnames. An additional preset was added. In addition to fixing some minor conversion bugs, Version 3.4 made saving a conversion configuration a little more convenient and added a new parameter that allows a book title to precede editor's names, as is called for by some political science journals.
Version 3.5 fixed a minor bug in the routine that checks whether the references are alphabetized, so that it copes a little better with authors who share a surname. It also allowed the program to run when nothing follows the references (APA style calls for an Author Note, but some journals use "almost APA style" and omit that requirement). Version 3.6 fixed a problem with multipart citations that include "cf.". An obscure bug for with references that include another reference (typically a Commentary on a published paper) was also repaired. Version 3.7 was another very minor bug fix that addressed author's hyphenated given names and also further improved the routine for handling Dutch surnames with multiple prefixes. Version 3.8 modified the conversion interface a little, and also corrected the handling of book editor's names. Also, it accommodates a variation I had never encountered before, omitting the publisher's location from the reference. Version 3.9 was another very minor bug fix addressing those pesky corporate authors. Version 3.10 introduced a new feature, the ability of the program to handle references typed in a (non-APA style) format that features an extra paragraph marker between paragraphs; the paragraphs can be either single-or double-spaced. An additional minor feature, counting the references and reporting the percentage published within the past five years, was also introduced in response to a user's suggestion. New features included in Version 3.11 were a check for whether references contain italics, as they usually should, and a warning if a reference has more than six authors (APA style calls for the use of et al. after the sixth author). Also fixed were an alphabetization bug that arose when alternate forms of the apostrophe ('), such as (’ or ´), are used and the handling of names that contain letters not used in English such as Ž and Ÿ. Version 3.12 was a minor bug fix, with the program being better able to handle manuscripts that contain hidden text, and names with prefixes. Version 3.13 augmented the list of words that signal corporate authors, and also fixed a bug that arose when a citation containing "et al." was immediately preceded within the same sentence by another citation. Version 3.14 improved reporting in the Conversion Module and added a preset for Behavioral and Brain Sciences, even though the journal rejected the paper that inspired the update. Tooltips that can be seen by hovering the mouse were added to many buttons and boxes. Version 3.15 was a minor bug fix, repairing the warning about more than six authors introduced in Version 3.11. Version 3.16 added a checking feature to insure that references always begin correctly; the program will warn the user if a space or something other than a letter is the first character in a reference. Version 3.17 recognizes British spelling of words within corporate names. Version 3.18 was a phantom update that was never posted. It expanded the checker to search for citations within embedded footnotes or endnotes (WORD allows these, as do some journals, although strictly speaking they are not part of APA style, which calls for footnotes to be in a separate list placed near the end of the manuscript.) The alphabetizing checker was also tweaked slightly; it now provides possible explanations for some non-obvious errors. References to statutes and other legal references are now accommodated (they are not altered by the Conversion Module). The improvements in Version 3.18 were incorporated into Version 4.0, which received a major number because the Conversion Module was considerably upgraded. It now has several more options and more accurate presets. Version 4.01 was a miniscule updating of the certificate associated with the template. Version 4.01 added "vom" to the program's set of prefix names. Version 4.02 and 4.03 were minor bug fixes that eliminated spurious error messages regarding illegal characters in the references. Version 4.04 handles references that have dates within the "author" names, which may arise for a report with no named author. The program warns about (they might be errors), rather than prohibits, such unusual references. Version 4.5 improved the program's ability to distinguish numbers from dates, and also fixed an error in the Conversion Module that could crash the program if an unlucky combination of parameters were chosen.
Version 5.0 did not include any substantive changes. Its virtue was allowing the template to operate with the 64-bit version of WORD. Beginning in 2010, Office became available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Version 5.0 (and all subsequent versions) also works with the 32-bit version of WORD.
Version 6.0 accomplished a long-standing goal, to make a version that worked on both Windows and Mac versions of WORD. The installation is a little different on the Mac, and invoking the checking process is a little different as well. A few minor bugs involving surnames with multiple components were also fixed. Version 6.01 was a minor bug fix, adding a few terms to the list of words that could be mistaken for names at the beginning of a citation and correcting the citation list when authors are associated with multiple papers within the same citation. Version 6.02 fixed an error in the license checking routine that primarily affected Mac users. Version 6.03 fixed a bug that could appear when a non-standard publication date appeared without an associated author (so that the citation needed to be linked to the preceding author).
Version 6.1 was a major bug sweep focused on the Conversion Module. A few parameters were added to accommodate style variants I had not encountered previously, and the presets were made more accurate. User feedback contributed by identifying problems. I appreciate being informed about errors or omissions. In addition, names with apostrophes in the middle (such as Hawai'i) are now processed correctly by the Checker. Version 6.2 was a response to a user request; the program now reports the percentage of cited papers that appeared within the past five or ten years. Version 6.21 added minor clarifications to some error messages. Version 6.22 fixed a bug regarding apostrophes that I inadvertently introduced in version 6.1, improved processing of large author sets, and accommodated a minor discrepancy between Windows and Mac character sets. Version 6.23 updated the handling of author sets greater than seven, which according to the Sixth Edition of the APA Style Manual require the use of ellipses (...) after the sixth author, followed by the name of the last author. Version 6.24 added a few terms to the database of journal abbreviations used within the Conversion Module. Version 6.25 added support for some characters not included within the Windows set, including Ž and other characters with carons, along with the usual minor bug fixes and additions to the journal database.
Version 7.0 introduced the option to Check References Formatting. This function looks beyond the author name and date, checking that the other components of the reference are typed according to APA style. It uses the Conversion Module engine, parsing the reference then reconstructing it. Version 7.01 corrected some of the bugs inevitably introduced with a major innovation, and also corrected some errors in the Conversion Module. Version 7.02 updated the Mac routines to accommodate MacWord 2016, a component of Office 365 for Mac. Version 7.03 repaired damage done to the MacWord 2011 routines, and also brought Mac users the ability to process characters outside the usual set, such as Ž and other characters with carons. Accordingly, Citation Checker now works with either MacWord 2011 or MacWord 2016. Version 7.04 incorporated small improvements in the way the program explains and remedies user errors, along with major improvements to the appearance of the forms on a large Macintosh screen. Version 7.05 fixed a minor bug that might arise with multiple occurrences of the multi-author citation. Version 7.06 repaired a bug by which a manuscript with many duplicated citations might cut short the reported list of alphabetized citations. This in turn could lead to incorrectly reported discrepancies. Version 7.07 fixed a bug that could lead references with three to five authors, correctly cited with et al. on repeated occurrences, to be reported as missing. Version 7.08 improved the identification of ellipses. Version 7.09 added a way to catch the user error of typing a semi-colon rather than a comma after an author's name. Version 7.10 improved handling of multiple citations within a single set of parentheses. Version 7.11 is an uninteresting technical update needed to overcome a bug introduced by a Microsoft update, a change in the VBA language in which Citation Checker is written. It overcomes the annoying and untrue message from Word 365 that "The macro cannot be found or has been disabled because of your Macro security settings." What actually happened is that the Microsoft update generated a compilation error in the code of one of the program modules. The error prevented Citation Checker from starting.
The Tools Menu got messed up when you installed another program that insinuated itself there. Now your Normal.dot (the default template, which automatically is attached to all documents) has lost the memory. You will have to put it back. The operation is a little complicated, but certainly easier than, say, doing an analysis of variance with SPSS.
To do that, close all documents, then open Normal.dot. It is located in the User Templates folder, whose location can be found by looking at Tools, Options, File Locations. Once you have Normal.dot open, click on the Tools Menu, then click Customize. Next, click the Commands tab, then click Macro in the list on the left side.
Look at the list on the right. Click and hold down the mouse on Project1.CitationChecker.ScanDocument. Drag that selection to the Tools Menu at the top of the screen. When the Tools Menu opens, drag the selection into the list, anywhere you like. Once it is in place, you can right-click to Rename the macro. Adjust the name to Citation Checker. Save Normal.dot, then exit WORD. The next time you open WORD, Citation Checker will be in the Tools Menu where you placed it.
I am proud of you for maintaining the integrity of the personalized license. Perhaps the best way to help your colleagues is to recommend that the organization purchase a site license. Please see the Test and Purchase page.
The rest of the error message contains the key. The program indicates which reference it is having difficulty with ("is choking on"). It may be something small, such as a missing comma or ampersand, or it may be an unexpected character in the author's name. The program only looks as far as the date (which must be surrounded by parentheses) within the reference, so usually it is finding something odd about the way the names are typed. A typing error is the most common explanation, but also the program is very strict about following APA style. Sometimes references imported from a web site are incorrect, even though they look fine to you; for example, the web site may have substituted an "I" (a capital I) or a "1" (the numeral one) for an "l" (the small letter pronounced el), and you cannot see the difference. The easiest way to check is to retype the name and date.
The Conversion module is rather delicate; minor typing errors in the reference section of your manuscript can disrupt the program component that parses references. Even if the program runs to completion, the output can look bizarre. To spot the error, look very closely at the APA version of the reference following the last one to be converted successfully. Sometimes there is an extra paragraph marker (¶) fouling things up (a proper reference has exactly one). It's a good idea to turn on the WORD option that shows them. For the Menu versions of WORD (2003 and earlier), go to Tools/Options/View/Paragraph Markers. For the Ribbon versions of WORD (2007 and later), go to WORD options/Display/Paragraph Markers.
That sounds like what my wife says about me. The problem may have arisen if you clicked OK when WORD said something like "Changes have been made to the template. Do you want to save those changes?" (Always say NO). Fortunately, the Citation Checker problem is easily overcome. Simply download the current version from the website, and replace the corrupted one with that.
As the error message explains, the program needs one of those headings, or an Appendix, to know when the references section has ended. An APA-style paper will always have at least one of the three headings when submitted to a journal. If yours is not ready or you won't need any of them, just put in a blank page with the heading Author Notes while you are working on the references. Version 3.5 and its successors allow the program to run without any of these pages (see the answer to Question 18).
Citation Checker gets confused when there is something wrong with an early reference, usually the first. When all of the references are correct, the alphabetization routine works correctly.
You have been victimized by a limitation of the program, namely that it can't use context to distinguish people's names from other words that get capitalized. In the manuscript, you wrote "Working in a laboratory in Washington, Weiss, Thomas, and Shanteau (2012) discovered something brilliant." Citation Checker does not know that Washington is not an author. It uses capitalization to determine proper nouns, and regards most as authors. A different sentence in the manuscript might have been "A brilliant argument presented in Washington, Weiss, Thomas, and Shanteau (2012) finally cleared up the confusion in the literature." A human can tell that in the latter sentence, Washington is an author, and in the former it is a location. The software is not that clever. It will commit the error whenever the manuscript contains a (capitalized) location immediately before a citation that is not enclosed within parentheses. When the program is wrong, you can ignore the warnings. There is a button on the report form allowing you to ignore discrepancies prior to running the Conversion Module.
The template was updated with a certificate good until 2020. The new certificate is attached to Version 4.01 and beyond.
The likely problem is the date. Citation Checker looks for a year wrapped in parentheses. It also accepts "in press" wrapped in parentheses as a date, but not alternative forms such as "forthcoming" or "to be published", which are not the official APA term.
This function, introduced in Version 7.0, looks beyond the author name and date, checking that the other components of the reference are typed according to APA style. It uses the Conversion Module engine, parsing the reference then reconstructing it. A new references section is produced and the entries are compared to the original. Discrepancies suggest that the original is not correctly formatted. A discrepancy of one or two characters usually is attributable to missing or extra spaces or periods; if the reconstructed version is several characters shorter than the original, usually a component is missing or signalled incorrectly. Because this function does change the original manuscript (and gives it a new name), it is a good idea to make sure the original document has been saved.
This message usually occurs when there is an extra paragraph marker (the last paragraph of the answer to Question 21 discusses how to see them). Each reference should have exactly one. Do not use paragraph markers (which are placed in the manuscript when you hit the Enter button) to separate paragraphs. Instead, use WORD's paragraph spacing function. Highlight the References section, then: For the Menu versions of WORD (2003 and earlier), click Format/Paragraph, Spacing/After. For the Ribbon versions of WORD (2007 and later), open the Home tab. Within the Paragraph section, click on Line and Paragraph Spacing, then Line Spacing Options, then Spacing/After. Set the spacing to 6 points for single spacing or 12 points for double spacing.
Yes, even though single spacing is inconsistent with APA style. Citation Checker does not check for spacing. But be sure not to use a paragraph marker to separate the references. The answer to Question 29 explains why that is so crucial.
Material held by Track Changes is a suggestion and not yet part of the manuscript. Accordingly, WORD tags the suggestions in such a way that Citation Checker cannot see the characters. If you accept the changes, Citation Checker will work correctly when you re-run it.