An item yesterday on possible candidates to head the National Archives and Records Administration misspelled the name of University of Southern California Prof. Charles R. Ritcheson.

It appears increasingly unlikely that the National Archives and Records Administration will have a chief in place when it becomes an independent agency April 1.

The White House hasn't come up with a nominee to replace Robert M. Warner as U.S. archivist. According to several sources, among the names mentioned as a possible successor are John Agresto, assistant chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Charles Richardson, a University of Southern California history professor.

One source noted that Agresto recently lost out to Edward A. Curran to replace William J. Bennett as chairman of the endowment and suggested that the Archives post would be a "consolation prize." Through a spokesman, Agresto declined to comment. Richardson, a specialist in British history, headed "Scholars for Reagan" in 1980.

Warner has decided to leave the filling of several key positions to the new archivist. Included are general counsel, director of congressional affairs and director of internal audits. The last position -- a new job at the Archives -- is being filled temporarily by James J. Hastings, who is on detail from the Nixon presidential materials projects staff. If Warner leaves before a new archivist is in place, Frank Burke, former director of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, will fill the job on an acting basis. INDEPENDENCE DAY . . .

Archives officials plan to celebrate their independence April 1 by donning buttons that read "National Archives -- Free At Last" and posing for a "class yearbook-type picture" on the steps at the Constitution Avenue side of their building. Archives units across the country will be asked to pose for similar pictures. BUDGET MILESTONE . . .

The Archives' budget would top $100 million for the first time, under the Reagan admininstration's proposed budget for fiscal 1986.

Claudine Weiher, the agency's associate archivist for administration, said the budget is "a clone of the fiscal 1985 budget, plus inflation and a few other things."

Preservation work would get the biggest increase. About $3 million would be provided in the first installment of a 20-year plan to improve the preservation of the 3 billion pages of records in the agency's custody. According to the agency's budget proposal, more than 147 million sheets are in poor condition and need attention. As part of the effort, the agency's staff would be expanded by 76 persons.

The administration, however, wants to try for the fourth consecutive year to eliminate the grants program operated by the Archives' National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The unit provides about $5 million in grants to help state and local governments compile and preserve records. The program, however, has always been saved by Congress.

Among items included in the proposed budget are $4.7 million to build an annex building and a boat dock for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston.

The budget also marks the first time a budget for a presidential library would reach $1 million. The president has proposed spending just over that amount to operate the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library. WHAT IS A FEDERAL RECORD ANYWAY? . . .

Ever wondered what qualifies as a "federal record?" The Archives' Documentation Standards Division has created a new 10-page booklet to help government officials and the public understand what records should be kept permanently and available at federal records centers. The booklet is the first by the agency to delve into the impact of automation on information retrieval and preservation and to explain how computer-generated materials are, in some cases, federal records. A NEW LOOK . . .

The Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corp. and the Archives are planning a major facelift for the Pennsylvania Avenue side of the Archives building. The PADC is to pay for two fountains, new street lighting and landscaping. James Megronigle of the Archives staff said the agency will install a new ramp for the handicapped while the area is torn up.