What Is Missing From This Citation

Writing guide
Posted on September 29, 2023

“What is missing from this citation?” This question echoes through the minds of many students and academic writers as they navigate the labyrinth in the world of citation styles, particularly the ubiquitous APA (American Psychological Association) format. Crafting a citation may seem straightforward, but it’s a deceptively intricate art that demands precision and attention to detail.

For example, learning how to cite an executive summary in APA style is an essential skill for academic and professional writing. In this expert article, you will learn the elusive citation gaps and valuable insights to ensure that you never leave a citation incomplete again. So, let’s embark on this journey of discovery, unraveling the mysteries behind what is missing from this citation and equipping you with the knowledge to cite with confidence and accuracy.

The Art of Citation. How Not to Miss the Essentials?

Citation is the backbone of academic writing. It serves multiple purposes, with the most important being:

  • Giving credit. Citing your sources acknowledges the project of other scholars and authors, demonstrating your commitment to academic honesty and integrity.
  • Providing evidence. Citations back up your arguments and claims with credible sources, strengthening the validity of your article.
  • Facilitating further research. Readers can use citations to locate the sources you’ve referenced, enabling them to delve deeper into the subject matter.
  • Building on existing knowledge.  Proper citation allows you to engage in academic discourse by acknowledging previous research and contributing to ongoing discussions.

The Art of Citation

When constructing a citation, understanding which piece of information is least important can sometimes be challenging, but precision is crucial in maintaining citation accuracy. Now that we understand the significance of citations, let’s delve into the common issues that plague citations and how to avoid them.

Since we’ve highlighted the importance of citations in academic writing, let’s explore some common issues that frequently arise in citations. These APA 7 examples will illustrate incorrect citations without specifying what is missing, emphasizing the significance of precision and accuracy in maintaining proper citation standards.

  • Author information

Example: “According to a famous study in psychology, … (2018).”

  • Page numbers

Example: “This concept was explored in detail on page 42 (Miller).”

  • Publication date

Example: “The groundbreaking research analyzed … (Brown, no date).”

  • Et al.

Example: “The theory was first proposed by a researcher (Green et al.).”

These examples serve as cautionary instances, highlighting the common pitfalls in citation that can compromise the integrity and clarity of your academic work. To ensure your citations are accurate and effective, paying attention to each component and providing precise and complete information is essential.

What Is Missing From This Citation: Addressing Common Omissions

When crafting citations, it’s common for writers to omit critical components, leaving them incomplete or inaccurate inadvertently. This section will delve deeper into what information is missing from the citation and why it’s crucial to rectify these omissions:

  • Missing author information

Before you begin citing, ensure you have the complete author information for each source. One of the most common citation mistakes is missing author information. This includes the author’s full name, affiliation, and other relevant details. When citing online sources, verify the author’s credibility and expertise. Whether it’s an article, book, or web source, failing to credit the author can lead to an incomplete citation. Sometimes, pseudonyms or incomplete author profiles can lead to inaccurate citations. This omission undermines your work’s credibility and leaves your readers questioning the source’s legitimacy.

Always provide the author’s name when citing a source. If the author is unknown, cite the work’s title. For instance, “The team relies on the unwavering support of their dedicated members to achieve their goals” (“Management in practice,” 2007).

  • Lack of page numbers

Before citing, review the source to identify the relevant page numbers. Page numbers are vital in citations, especially when referencing specific sections or quotes within a source. Omitting page numbers can hinder your readers’ ability to locate the information you’re citing. Ensure you can access the entire source, whether a physical book or an online document. If possible, avoid citing extensive passages that require numerous page references. Instead, paraphrase or summarize the information, which reduces the need for page numbers.

Always include page numbers in your direct quotations when applicable. Use “p.” for single-page references and “pp.” for ranges. For instance, “The database can group data in a reshapable container comprising submodules or circuit cells” (Seuss, 1974, p. 4).

  • Inadequate publication date

Citations should include the source’s publication date to provide a temporal context for your information. Neglecting to mention this important detail can weaken the reliability of your citation. When in doubt about a publication date, cross-reference the information with multiple sources. The most common date mentioned is likely to be accurate. If a source lacks a publication date, use “n.d.” (no date) in your citation to indicate the absence of this information.

Ensure you include the publication date in your citations. It should be in parentheses and follow the author’s name. For example, “In his scholarly study, Dr. Seuss observed that ‘the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog’ (Seuss, 2007, pp. 7-8).”

  • Misuse of et al.

Misusing “et al.” (an abbreviation for “et alia,” meaning “and others”) in citations can lead to ambiguity about the number of authors involved. Familiarize yourself with the rules for using “et al.” in citations according to your chosen citation style (e.g., APA).

Pro tip

When to use et al in citation? Use “et al.” when citing sources with three or more authors. When you do use “et al.,” ensure it’s correctly formatted with a period after the phrase and a space before “al.”

Paying attention to these elements is essential to ensure the completeness of your citations. Each missing item can weaken the overall quality of your citations and, by extension, the reliability of your work.

By following these guidelines and being diligent in your citation process, you can minimize the likelihood of missing critical components and ensure that your citations are thorough and accurate.

Mistakes Examples. The Most Common Types of Missing Information

This section is to reinforce the importance of comprehensive citations and helps you identify and rectify common mistakes. What information is missing from the citation? Let’s examine some real-world mistakes examples:

Case 1: Missing author information

Incorrect In-Text Citation: “The study found that climate change impacts are far-reaching and urgent” (2021).

Problem: The author’s name is missing from the citation, making it unclear who conducted the study.

Corrected In-Text Citation: “Smith’s (2021) study found that climate change impacts are far-reaching and urgent.” 

Case 2: Lack of page numbers

Incorrect In-Text Citation: “This theory has gained widespread acceptance in recent years” (Johnson, 2019). 

Problem: The direct citation lacks page numbers, making it difficult for readers to pinpoint the specific information within the source.

Corrected In-Text Citation: “This theory has gained widespread acceptance in recent years” (Johnson, 2019, p. 72). 

Case 3: Inadequate publication date

Incorrect In-Text Citation: “According to the research, bees play a crucial role in pollination” (Smith). 

Problem: The publication date is missing from the citation, leaving readers uncertain about the timeliness of the research.

Corrected In-Text Citation: “According to the research (Smith, 2020), bees play a crucial role in pollination.” 

Case 4: Misuse of et al.

Incorrect In-Text Citation: “The findings confirm the earlier research conducted by Williams, Davis, and others” (Smith et al.).

Problem: “Et al.” is used incorrectly here, as it should replace the names of all authors when there are more than three.

Corrected In-Text Citation: “The findings confirm the earlier research conducted by Williams et al.”

Now that you have seen what is missing from this citation you are ready to complete your project. These examples illustrate common citation mistakes and the importance of including all necessary components. By learning from these cases, you can enhance your citation skills and ensure the accuracy and completeness of your references.

If you ever thought about what makes a citation invalid then this article will help you. Citations are the cornerstone of effective academic and professional writing. You can maintain the integrity and credibility of your work by ensuring that you never omit critical information in your citations, such as the author’s name, title formatting, page numbers, and publication date. Avoiding these common mistakes is essential for effective communication and supporting your arguments with reliable sources.


Remember, citations are not just about compliance with style guides like APA; they are a means to uphold the standards of academic and professional discourse. So, the next time you wonder, “What is missing from this citation?” make sure it’s nothing crucial that could compromise the quality of your project.

About authors
James Snyder A Top-10 writer at CustomWritings.com
James is one of the most prominent authors on our team with more than 7 years of experience. He specializes in writing essays and coursework. James loves to work from home with a cup of hot chocolate and his cat Archibald.
Kate Roth A Top-10 writer at CustomWritings.com
Kate likes to read long stories and write essays. She’s experienced in both academic writing and marketing activities, so she can tell everything about a writer’s job in a few simple words. You can use our website to request the help of our experts anytime.
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