Bibliography (APA7) - why is the first name (e.g. John) not shortened (J.) and does order matter?


I've got a fairly fundamental question, that I should probably know the answer to :)

Suppose I have these variations in three different items:

1. John Smith
2. Smith, John
3. Smith, J.

Why isn't the APA style consistently producing

Smith, J.


I can see that it's an issue with (1) above, as zotero doesn't know first vs. second name. However, why does (2) not appear like (3)?

  • Hmm.... so for the 2nd author, the abbreviation is working for (2)/(3) ... but not for the first author.
  • Ok - it must be a bug for (2)/(3).

    When I export references individually, the first name is abbreviated. When I export several references, it's not!
  • You likely don’t have the names consistently entered in your library. Sometimes they are entered as J. and sometimes as John. Zotero doesn’t know that these are the same person and so expands the latter to the full name, per APA style.

    Yes - thank you, that makes total sense!!

    And am I right about (1) vs. (2) ? Zotero sees those as different authors?

    1. John Smith
    2. Smith, John


  • If "John Smith" is entered as a single-field author and Smith, John is entered as lastname/firstname then yes those are correctly interpreted as different authors.
  • edited July 24, 2020
    Thank you @bwiernik @dstillman and @DWL-SDCA !

    I did say that I should probably know the answer to this one - thanks for link to documentation! :)
  • edited July 24, 2020
    Don’t enter personal names in single-field mode. Always enter those in Last, First mode. Single-field mode will assume that the name is a group or organization.
  • Thank you - that's helpful!
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