I want to cite an equation in my thesis that has a minor typo in the cited source (the wrong letter is used for an index). How should I do that? Can I simply correct the typo in my paper without commenting on it, or should I indicate somehow that the equation has been altered? I’m supposed to use APA style.


You should indicate what the typo was and that you corrected it. This will prevent your readers getting confused if/when they look up the reference, and related annoyances (e.g., the referee accusing you of making an error, your professor giving you a bad grade, or people generally just thinking you are sloppy). Noting the correction will also create a historical record of the typo, which could be useful for other researchers working on the same topic in the future.

Related discussion for a non-mathematical correction: Quoting a typo: Do I really have to do "sic", or can I just fix the sentence?

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    Could be a case where a footnote does the job. Cite as usual and explain the correction in the footnote. – Snijderfrey Mar 10 at 19:52
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    @Snijderfrey, footnotes are fine in general, but not permitted with every "style". – Buffy Mar 10 at 19:56
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    Sure, a footnote is an appropriate way to mention it. I think I did exactly that in a recent paper of mine. – Dan Romik Mar 10 at 19:56
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    @Michael I assume that there will be some text introducing the equation, and you can place the footnote there. – Snijderfrey Mar 11 at 13:07
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    @Michael There's an xkcd for that. – Angew is no longer proud of SO Mar 11 at 15:06

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