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Natbib Bibliography Et Al In Apa

This post discusses my experience getting APA style references in LaTeX. This includes both in-text citations and the end of document references list. It focuses on the use of the package.

Setting up a BibTeX Bibliographic Database

Regardless of what citation style you want, you need to have your references formatted in BibTeX format. JabRef is a powerful reference manager for working with a BibTeX database. Also, see my previous post for migrating an Endnote database into BibTeX format and migrating a Word Document with Endnote references into LaTeX format.

APA Style References Several options exist:

From my initial examination looks like it has more features and is more compatible with the nuances of APA style. However, is somewhat of a standard in LaTeX. Thus, using citation commands may enable easier conversion between citation styles. The remainder of this post focuses on my experience with the package.

Using apacite

For comprehensive information on using apacite, see the documentation. The following sets out some basic details:

1. Ensure that you have a BibTeX database for the document. Your document will be more portable if the database is placed in either the same folder as the LaTeX files or in a subfolder of the LaTeX files.

However, you may prefer to maintain a general Bibliographic database that can be used across documents. If you wish to have a general database, you can use absolute file references to the database. Then when you need to share the BibTeX database, copy the database into a LaTeX project folder or subfolder and change the file reference in the command .

2. Reference the apacite package in the preamble.

3. Place the bibliography in the desired location in the document (usually after the main text) using the following code:

4. To insert citations in the text has a range of commands (see "The citation commands" in the Manual). Table 1 in the manual lists some of the main commands. I find myself using the following ones most often:

  • : This inserts the author names and years in brackets. This is the standard methods. E.g., "(Anglim, 2002)".
  • : Inserts the author names in the text and years in brackets. I use this to insert the authors names in the text e.g., "Anglim (2002)".
  • : inserts just the years in brackets. This is useful when I want to include the author's names in the text in a non-standard way. E.g., I've already written "Anglim's" then citeyear will insert "(2002)".

Each command takes a BibTeX reference as an argument and can have pre- and post- text. For example:

displays as "(e.g., Ackerman, 1990)"

5. To produce the document with references included, the document typically needs to be built three times in order for all updates to occur.

Additional Challenges and Resolutions

French formatting
Problem: For some reason my document was using a French language version of apacite. This resulted in many unwanted  customisations, such as the French word for references (Références) being displayed at the start of the reference list.
Solution: I inserted the following code into the preamble to restore the English mode of :

Additional Resources

There should be no need to edit a file manually to have the desired number of authors before 'et al.' in either the citations or the bibliography/reference list.

The number of authors listed in citations and the bibliography is managed by the bibliography style. For example, using the APA style (which requires up to the first six authors before 'et al.' for book references in the bibliography):



output (not formatted, just the text from the )

Found in (Man et al., 2025).


Man, A., Woman, A., Man, S., Man, T., Man, F., Woman, S., et al. (2025). This book. Men & Women.

You would need to identify an appropriate style, usually provided by the publisher if they accept contributions produced using (Any)TeX or from the pre-configured styles available, or you could produce your own if the requirement is sufficiently important. If you want suggestions for possible styles it would help if you said which style you are currently using and the changes you want to achieve.

To give an example of a different style using the same file but with the bibliography style changed:

This style produces (again, just the text from the ):

Found in [MWM+ 25].


[MWM+ 25] A. Man, A. Woman, Second Man, Third Man, Fourth Man, Second Woman, Third Woman, Fourth Woman, and Fifth Man. This book. Men & Women, 2025.

This does not truncate the number of authors in the bibliography at all (unlike the first example using the APA style).