First Initials in Citation

A handful of my internal citations have the first initials of the first author in them. I cannot figure out why this is or how to fix it, or even what is different about those citations compared to the correctly formatted ones. Any suggestions?
  • First thing to check-- Author names should be edited so that same author's names should be entered exactly identically. Jane Alice Doe might be entered as JA Doe, Jane Doe, Jane A. Doe, etc. All should be renamed so that they all match Jane Alice Doe.

    What you are seeing is Zotero's disambiguation feature -- something required by most author, date bibliographic styles.
  • I am having the same issue as @bjhood. There is one author who is on numerous papers I have cited, sometimes as the first author, and sometimes as co-author. I have checked all papers to ensure his name is entered identically in every case. Yet in some in-text citations, his first and middle initial appear. I have noticed the pattern that the first and middle initial appear ONLY in citations in which he is listed as the first author. In all citations in which he is NOT the first author, the citation uses only the last name.
    Any suggestions on how to fix this?
  • I would also note that there appears to be an error in the disambiguation for American Psychological Association 6th edition rules. When two authors have the same last name AND an article published in the same year, the in-text citation should use initials to differentiate the citations.

    "Authors with the same surname

    When authors of 2 works published in the same year have the same surname, include the initials of the author in the in-text citation and separate the names by a semicolon and space. When using initials in the text of a sentence do not invert the first name.

    J. Dawson (1986) and T. Dawson (1986) accept the...

    (Dawson, J., 1986; Dawson, T., 1986)" (see

    I have cited 3 different authors with the last name of "Miller" in my paper. The in-text citations from Zotero contain the authors' first initials in each case. However, none of the papers were published in the same year. Therefore, according to the APA rules, the initials of the author should NOT be used in the in-text citation.

    Can this rule be updated in Zotero's disambiguation features?
  • You are mistaken about the rules for initials in APA. APA style says that initials for multiple first authors with the same surname are always added to the first author, not just when the year is the same. The initials rule is about disambiguating people, not citations.

    Initials are only added to the first authors, not middle or last authors.

    Zotero implements the initial-adding and citation disambiguation rules correctly. You should not delete the initials when Zotero adds them when multiple first authors with the same surname are present in a paper.
  • Got it. Thanks for clarifying, @bwiernik.
  • I have multiple references with the same first author however zotero thinks they are different authors and includes the first name in the in-text reference. How do I fix this?
  • Zotero will only think they're different authors if they're not spelled exactly the same way. Fixing that is the only way to go (and if that doesn't fix it, test in a new document -- if it's OK there, there's a good chance the items are either not refreshing or, more likely, orphaned and using embedded metadata in your document)
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