First name appearing in in-text citation?

For some reason, one particular author's first name keeps showing up in the in-text citations. It's driving me a little crazy. I can see that the entries were made with separated last,first naming. Is there a way to fix this easily, or do I have to manually edit it out? I'm on deadline. Thanks.
  • probably due to the author disambiguation. What's the name of the author and is there a similar citation in your bibliography? Also, what style are you using?
  • Author disambiguation...mmm. That's probably right.
    The author's name appears in different forms in different pubs.
    S.E. Kimes in some, Sheryl E. Kimes in others, etc.
    So I need to standardize across all pubs she is in, despite the way it appears in the publication?
  • correct, yes. Always use the full name in Zotero.
  • Yeah, that fixed it. Pain in the neck, but it works.

    Thank you very very much for your help, damnation.
  • Thanks, that also helped me. I notice the duplicate citations are yet another painful inheritance of Mendeley.
  • Hello, I'm having this same problem but even when I changed the names in my library my document is still using the first name in my in-text citations. Does someone knows why is this happening or how can I fix it?
  • Check if this also happens in a new document.
  • I also had this same problem, and just tried adamsmith's suggestion. It does not happen in a new document. I suppose I can just copy/paste the whole document over without the incorrect citations and re-add them? But is there a better way to do this? Refreshing doesn't work.
  • @HansonMA: See "Deleted Citations" on the support page linked page.
  • I seem to be having the same issue with a citation of one author who wrote a paper on his own I'm citing, and then teamed up with his wife. even though the years are different its insisting on using his first name :( I read the page on xml editing, but does anyone know how to access that?
  • @ASouthcoat -- which citation style and are you user including the first name is incorrect? In APA style, for example, if he's first author on the solo pub and his wife on the joint one, then including both first initials in text would be correct.
  • APA 7th, yes but its using full name rather than initial. Also I've noticed when I'm citing two papers by the same author in different years its insisting on his full name too
  • It will use the full name if the initials are the same—“James” and “Joyce” for example.
  • I am experiencing a similar problem. I have reformatted my author names several times to try to work around it, but am having some form of issue no matter how they are formatted in Zotero.

    I have a husband and wife team, let's call Bob A. Smith and Sally R. Smith. No matter how I play with their names in Zotero (full names, initials, full first name with middle initial), I get the following in-text citations of their works:

    B. A. Smith & Smith
    Bob A. Smith & Smith

    My understanding is they should appear as:

    B. Smith & S. Smith

    Am I missing something with APA style?
  • If the team always publishes in the same order, they should actually appear as Smith & Smith, so the problem would appear to be the fact that you don't have Bob A. formatted exactly the same way in Zotero
    Have you tested in a fresh document?
  • I just examined the entire document and see the team publishes in different orders. When Sally publishes first, the citation becomes:

    S. Smith & Smith

    I went through my Zotero library multiple times and searched for every instance of researchers with Smith as a last name and made sure the names are formatted the same every time. I only have 32 references with authors with the names of Smith, so it doesn't take long to get through.

    I just tested in a fresh document and have the same issue.
  • Sorry; I have a typo above. When Sally publishes first the citation is:

    S. A. Smith & Smith
  • Then that is correct APA style. The initials are only added to the first author, and then only if there are multiple _first_ authors with the same surname.
  • Ok, interesting. The example I was using does not do this, so I will have to more thoroughly read the style manual to understand. Thank you!
  • Well,
    B. A. Smith & Smith
    Bob A. Smith & Smith
    is still not correct: if that's the same author, it should be B. A. Smith & Smith. I'd strongly suspect that's a data entry issue though; are you positive you can reproduce that in a fresh document?
  • Oh, I'm sorry I was unclear. The change from B. A. Smith to Bob A. Smith was when I changed the names in Zotero (from B. A. Smith to Bob A. Smith). So, if Bob A. Smith is the only name reported for the author in Zotero, all in-text citations are Bob A. Smith & Smith. If I switch all names to B. A. Smith in Zotero, the in-text citations become B. A. Smith & Smith.
  • OK, yes, then everything is correct (though I'd recommend storing "Bob A." throughout as that will produce correct output in more styles. Zotero should automatically turn this into B. A. for APA style if you have it for all items consistently)
  • On @HansonMA 's question - I had the same issue. It worked for me to remove the reference from the word doc, change the author name in zotero, then close the word doc and re-open it again, and re-insert the reference. I didn't have to copy everything into a new doc.
  • The same happened to me (as in author's first name keeps showing up in the in-text citations). Turns out I had two copies, in zotero, of the same one paper I was citing. Deleted one of the copies from zotero, refreshed in word, and it's sorted it.
  • @LWTaylor: Note that you would want to merge the two items in that case rather than deleting. If you delete, any citations linked to the deleted citation would become orphaned, and you'd have the same problem. Merging ensures that any existing citations point to the remaining item.
  • @dstillman - good point, thank you. Luckily, I was early on in writing the document so wasn't an issue this time. But no doubt that'll save me having that issue in the future.
  • edited January 21, 2021

    Finally fixed the issues. The two issues I was facing:

    ISSUE 1: Adding the initials such as (L. Ross 2015) and (C.R. Ross 2015) instead of what I want (Ross 2015a) and (Ross 2015b) according to journal guidelines.

    ISSUE 2: Now these are some authors who published in the same years:

    What Zotero was doing:

    (1) Hughes, Oldroyd, et al. 2008
    (2) Hughes, Ratnieks, et al. 2008
    (3) Sirviö, Pamilo, et al. 2011
    (4) Sirviö, Johnston, et al. 2011

    What I wanted:

    (1) Hughes et al. 2008a
    (2) Hughes et al. 2008b
    (3) Sirviö et al. 2011a
    (4) Sirviö et al. 2011b

    This is what I did:

    I downloaded the CSL file for the style I was using (CSE) from here ( and saved it as council-of-science-editors-author-date1.csl (added 1 as a suffix).
    Opened the file in a text editor, searched for the line where 'disambiguate' was mentioned, and deleted the disambiguate names, and given names.
    Basically from:

    citation et-al-min="3" et-al-use-first="1" disambiguate-add-year-suffix="true" disambiguate-add-names="true" disambiguate-add-givenname="true"


    citation et-al-min="3" et-al-use-first="1" disambiguate-add-year-suffix="true"

    Saved the file. Opened Zotero> Preferences> Cite>Styles (On a Macbook, might differ in Windows) and added this new style file. It did replace the old style but does not show it over there since it just takes the name of the file from the XML codes.
    Now, go back to your word file>Zotero add-in, do a Refresh, and bam!

    Hopefully, it will help someone with low technical skills like me since I struggled to figure out this :(
  • Note that the CSE style guide calls for names or initials to be added, rather than a/b, when the author groups are different.
  • edited April 2, 2021
    I had the same thing happening - I thought that I had replaced all the names but I forgot those in the Group Libraries, once these were removed, the issue was resolved.
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