APA Format for Bibliography

I've been using Zotero to write a paper for my school where APA format is the norm. I've noticed that when I export a bibliography to APA format Zotero does not put it in the form required by APA (I'm going by the 5th edition of their Publication Manual). So far I have noticed that Zotero does not handle journal articles by more than 3 authors correctly. Zotero does the following:

Author A, Author B, Author C, et al.

The proper format should be:

Author A, Author B, Author C, Author D & Author E. (for 3 to 6 authors)
Author A, Author B, Author C, Author D, Author E, Author F, et al. (for 6+ authors)

I have put all of the authors in my citation on Zotero. Hope you can fix this in the near future since a lot of my journal articles are medical and have multiple authors. Thanks!
  • The CSL style for APA has somewhat different rules:

    for citations, first occurrence does +6 use first 6, subsequent +6 use first 1.

    for bibliographic entries, it uses a different rule: for 4+ use the first 3.

    My guess is the second may be a bug that slipped in. Can someone please check this, preferably against the actual APA manual (or post a link)?

    In any case, it sounds like Zotero isn't correctly implementing et al support. There probably needs to be some additional Javascript code added.
  • I actually took my reference from the APA Publication Manual (5th edition) -- this is found in section 4.04 (page 220) and 4.16 (page 240). I'm not sure why the CSL says different.

    Excuse me for adding on to this post as I go but I'm currently working on a paper and found another glitch. For some reason multiple works with the same first author (but different second and third authors) are printing with a letter behind the year of publication (e.g. 2004a) even when there are different years. For example I have two works cited with Author A from 2 different years (2000, 2004). Zotero is printing this as 2004a and 2000b -- again this is not APA format in a bibliography. The only time lowercase letters are used (again section 4.04, page 221) is in the body of the text when you reference a work by an author with two or more works as part of series in the same year.

    Personally I and most others dislike APA format but it's a nursing thing. Even my instructors who do research don't use it that much when they publish. However when you are graded on APA style you quickly make sure everything is right lest you lose points.

    If I come across more issues I'll post them.

    And by the way thanks for providing Zotero. My school pushes EndNote heavily but I could not see shelling out the money when I am only writing short papers each semester and not doing PhD research. So far I've been quite happy with Zotero recognizing it is still in beta.

  • OK, I've fixed it in the CSL file, which now looks like this for the bib:

    <et-al min-authors="6" use-first="6"/>

    The rest is for the Zotero guys to fix.

    Interesting aside: MS is adding citation support to Word 2007. But while they include APA support, they actually don't implement it correctly. Not only that, but they won't. Instead of the system automatically assigning the correct year suffixes, the user will have the manually add them!
  • I found one more small problem with the APA format. APA uses initials for the first and middle names of authors in the following format:

    Last Name[comma][space]Initial of first name[period][space]Initial of middle name[period]

    Zotero omits the space between the period of the first name and the initial of the middle name.

    I don't know if it makes a difference but I input my author names in Zotero simply as initials with a period -- would this have caused this problem? Should I omit the period? (Two periods did not appear on my exported bibliography, however) Will Zotero automatically shorten a full name to an initial?

    Sorry I did not have time to do some testing with this myself before posting.

  • To be more precise, first/middle name isn't relevant; it says to initialize given names.

    In any case, can you double-check this against your APA guide? Or, put differently, are you 100% sure what you say above is correct?

    The existing APA CSL style has


    ... which is indeed saying there should be no space. Will be happy to change it with confirmation that's wrong.
  • I can't find an exact reference in my APA Publication Manual (5th Edition) but it is obvious from all of the examples that there is to be a space.

    I just tried creating a bibliography using Zotero where I put in the full first name of the author. Zotero did list the given name with an initial followed by a period. The space after the period is missing.

    APA format has this space -- I hope you can take my word without an exact reference.

  • Hi:

    jsapovits is definitely right on this one - all of the examples in the APA manual have a space after the periods.

    I've noticed a couple of other issues with APA format as well:

    - when doing a book section Zotero puts "Pp." before the page number, but it should be "pp."

    - when doing an edited book Zotero puts "Ed" or "Eds" but these should be "Ed." and "Eds." (that is - there needs to be a period after the Ed)

    - when doing a book section, Zotero seems to put both the section title and the book title in italics, when it's actually only the book title that should be in italics

    I also noticed that for journal articles and book chapter titles, Zotero will leave all the words starting with caps if this is how it is entered - for something I'm entering myself it's no problem to enter it with no caps. But if I'm getting something automatically from a web page, it seems I might not always remember to go remove the caps - if Zotero could do that automatically somehow, that would be very helpful!

  • Other APA mistakes in Zotero:

    1. All words in journal titles should be capitalized. (eg, Perception & Psychophysics, NOT Perception & psychophysics) Right now Zotero does the latter.

    2. As noted in other posts, there should be spaces after the periods in the author initials.

    3. Zotero puts the issue number in parenthesis after the italicized volume. APA style uses ONLY the volume number, and the issue number is left out. So that should be removed.

    4. The full page numbers should be given in the range. NOT 118-26, but 118-126 is correct.

    Example for points 1, 3 & 4:
    CORRECT: Perception & Psychophysics, 55, 485-496.
    WRONG: Perception & psychophysics, 55(5), 485-96.
  • Thanks for all of your helpful comments on proper APA citation formatting. We ought to be able to handle most of the changes requested:

    1. We can add a space after each author initial
    2. We can adjust Ed/Eds to be Ed./Eds.
    3. We can change Pp to pp
    4. We'll take a look at section and issue number handling to fix any problems

    Where things become trickier is at the level of capitalization and page numbers. Zotero is generating publication titles as they're entered. Since we have no way to know how titles should be capitalized, it's best to adjust them manually. We do have a title-casing function, but obviously it will break down pretty regularly: aren't we all tired of reading about "Ipods" and "Imacs"? Sure, we can ignore English articles and prepositions, but how will this function know which words not to capitalize in foreign titles?

    For much the same reason, Zotero is outputting page numbers as 118-26 most likely because that's what's entered into the relevant item's Pages field. At the moment Zotero has no way of reverse engineering the original page numbers, so for now it's best to edit those page numbers yourself.
  • Although the name of journal should have each word capitalized, the title of the article should not - only the first word, of the title and sub-title and any proper names, all others begin with a lowercase letter. Can this please be fixed in the next version?

  • I wanted to get a new reference manager and was getting my feet wet with Biblioscape and Endnote as I came across Zotero. I immediately liked that Zotero's interface and functioning matches the way I work. Hence my question: When is the update of the plug-in for APA in-text references for MS Word expected?
  • The plug-in for Word, which will do APA in-text references, is available now:


    We're calling it an "alpha" since it's a first release, but it works quite well (though as you can see from this thread, we have some tweaking to do with the APA formatting).
  • Hi, just bumping this post to ask if there a ticket for the changes that were suggested by Sean? I raised some similar issues in this post, http://forums.zotero.org/discussion/884/apa-format-book-section-issues/#Item_0which
    in June 2007 (sorry didn't pick this one up with search back then) and did not get a reply to the more recent post, and since this was originally raised before in Dec, and zotero has been updated between now and then, I am worried it has slipped through the radar.
    I ask because I spent have to spend a considerable amount of time going through my reference list making these changes.

    Regarding the capitalisation issue:
    Yes, a in built capitalisation function will not work on foreign titles, but since 99% of my references are in English (and I guess this is true for a large proportion of the Zotero user base) I don't see why there is a problem - because it might not help some users shouldn't be a reason not to implement it for the large numbers that would benefit from its implementation (you could always have an option for it). So if a "smart" titling functioning could be implemented, even if sub optimal, it would save a lot of people a lot of time, and I see the request been made on other posts in these forums. Going through each reference to change the case is a considerable pain, and somewhat defeats the reason why I use a reference manager (to save me pain).
  • Zotero 1.0RC2 offers some built-in text transformation functions. Try right-clicking an item's publication title (or any of its title fields): you'll find a couple of text transformations that may speed up your editing of individual items (e.g. journal titles that import in all caps).

    For varied output (e.g. different citation styles), CSLs offer several options to alter capitalization.

    Finally, regarding our user base: it's very multilingual.
  • Text transformations would be great, but I'm using 1.0.0rc2 and I can't find them! Right clicking on a title produces the following items: Undo; Cut; Copy; Paste; Delete; Select All. No text transformations.

    I actually tried to do my own text transformations by exporting the reference, opening in a text editor, using the editors transform tool, saving and importing into Zotero. But for journal articles the journal title always goes missing on re-importing. I notice that there is no tag for a journal title, only two dc:title tags and a z:itemType="journalArticle" that presumably tells Zotero to interpret the second title as the journal title. But how to maintain that during an export / import?
  • Try right-clicking when the field is not in edit mode. In other words, don't click the field first and then right-click. Just right-click.
  • Cool! Thanks. It doesn't work unless one of the other fields is in edit mode, though. If no fields are selected, right-clicking on one will simply open it to edit mode.

    No, I take that back. Now I can't get it to work at all! I got it to work on one reference, but I can't replicate it on any others. Everytime I right click, no matter what, it simply opens the field for editing. Damn! I broke it!
  • Everytime I right click, no matter what, it simply opens the field for editing.
    This was a bug on Windows. It's been fixed on the dev branch and will be included in the next release candidate within a few days.
  • Great! I'll look forward to that.

    While I'm on the topic, is it possible to add Sentence Case to the transform options? ('Cos I know you've got nothing better to do ...!)
  • Hi,
    I've got a problem with APA format too...
    I have a reference with 6 authors and the "et al." at the end shouldn't be there...
    I didn't have this problem with previous versions of Zotero. The problem showed up with the last updates rc2-3

    (Loomis, Klatzky, Golledge, Cicinelli, Pellegrino, Fry, et al., 1993)

    Loomis, J. M., Klatzky, R. L., Golledge, R. G., Cicinelli, J. G., Pellegrino, J. W., Fry, P. A., et al. (1993). Nonvisual navigation by blind and sighted: assesment of path integration ability. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 122(1), 73-91.

    thank you for your help.
  • Thanks for the right click option. That is much appreciated. One comment though - probably best to default for lower case to capitalise first letter, or have a third option.
    The issues with APA style for book chapters I was harping on about have been fixed, thanks.
  • tibr: I'll take a look at this.
  • Zotero's reference formatting for APA-style book chapters is incorrect. In fact, the application is missing a field: Editors. Book chapters in APA-style should be formatted like this:

    Author, A., Author, B., & Author, C. (2003). Title of the chapter. In A. Editor, B. Editor, & C. Editor (Eds.), Title of the Book (pp. 100-122). Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

    The title of the book is the only part that should be capitalized. If you guys could correct this, I'd be grateful. I have a chunky dissertation proposal due this month, and I'd love it if Zotero could do this automatically.
  • Two more problems:

    (1) Sometimes in-text citations aren't always in the (Author1, Author2 & Author3, 2003) format. It's standard to write something like the following: "Author1, Author2, and Author3 (2003) showed that...". From what I can tell Zotero can only insert the full parenthetical.

    (2) When references are referred to more than once in-text, it is standard to abbreviate the authors upon the second mention. For example, the second mention of the article should read "(Author1 et al., 2003). From what I can tell, Zotero doesn't accommodate this formatting. If I'm wrong, I'd be happy to know how to do it!

  • edited September 1, 2007
    Zotero's reference formatting for APA-style book chapters is incorrect. In fact, the application is missing a field: Editors.
    Click the "Author" field in the info pane to choose Editor or other creator types.

    FAQ: How Do I Add an Edited Volume or a Book Chapter
  • Thanks, Dan. I tried listing editors (and series editors), but they don't show up in the citation. Also, the page numbers for a chapter don't appear in the correct place -- they should appear in a parenthetical just after the book title (right now they appear at the end of the citation). Am I doing something incorrectly? Thank you!
  • caseylw: You are right. There are errors in the formatting of an edited book. I'll take care of these.
  • caseylw: I saw and corrected the issue with formatting of page numbers. I will commit these changes soon, and they should appear in 1.0 (if not earlier). I don't appear to be having any problems with editors, however.

    As for your other issues, (1) is already available in our developmental build. (There's a "Suppress Author" checkbox that will get you the desired behavior.) (2) is supported, although it only gets used when there are 6+ authors (should be 3+ authors). I've corrected this as well.

    Thank you for your input. Let me know if you're having any other problems.
  • Thanks, Simon. I greatly appreciate your help.
  • edited September 25, 2007
    I'd like to echo Jay A. Babcock's comments from Feb 12th 2007: In APA style, only the FIRST word of the article's title should be capitalized (and also proper names).

    I don't have a hard-cover to cite, but here, as elsewhere, it notes:

    "Capitalize only the first words of book or article titles; capitalize all important words in the name of a journal."

    Currently Zotero seems to ignore capitalization entirely and just paste's the title in however it was saved. This is a problem, as some e-journals capitalize the entire first word(s) of an article, which certainly isn't in any manual of style.

    Obviously if you implement capitalizing only the first work, there will still be the problem that proper names won't be capitalized. However, it would be much easier to go back and capitalize the 5-10 proper names in your article titles than un-capitalize 90-100 other words.

    Any chance of this happening? Thanks!
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