Inconsistent use of et al

I'm using an edited version of APA6 which lists up to five author names in the in-text citations before abbreviating to et al. However, in some citations it inserts et al even when there are only four authors, what could be the reason for this inconsistency?
  • APA style says to use et al for items with 3 or more authors after the first time an item is cited.
  • Well, it doesn't implement that. Sometimes five authors are listed, other times it cuts off and inserts et al when there are 3 authors or more. That's why it's inconsistent.
  • I don't think you understood what bwiernik is saying:
    APA in-text citations have two different rules for et al.
    1. The first time an item is cited, up to five authors are listed (i.e. et al. is only used for works with 6 or more authors)
    2. For any subsequent cite, et al. is used for any citation with 3 or more authors.

    Zotero's APA style does implement that exactly. If it doesn't work like that in a document, start by testing in a new document to see if the behavior is consistent there. If so, we can troubleshoot the main document.
  • It doesn't change after the first time the same work is cited, it lists 5 authors for some works every time it is cited and inserts et al for others every time they are cited, even if the different works have the same number of authors.

    I assume it couldn't be that if some work with 6 or more authors is cited, then any other work with 3 or more authors will be cited with et al after that.
  • So have you tried in a new document? It could be that something doesn't work in updating your current document or it could be you have data in Zotero incorrectly. This definitely works correctly in general.
  • Not sure I understand the description, but the number of authors preceding et al. might be extended by disambiguate-add-names="true".
  • ah yes, good call. If the first x authors of two citations are identical, APA style says (and Zotero implements) to lit the first x+1 authors for both works
  • Another possibility is that the user's library contains two records of the same article and each of the records is cited.
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