Usepackage Latex Bibliography 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

Your LaTeX file needs to include
  • a reference to a label in your BibTeX file whenever you want to cite an item in the file
  • a reference to the bibliography style file you want to use, which determines how the references you cite are formatted in the bibliography of your document (and possibly a LaTeX style file associated with the bibliography style)
  • a LaTeX command to generate the bibliography at the point in your document where you want it to appear.

Example using

Here is an example using the bibliography style , which produces citations in "author (year)" format. This file is available on this page (which has instructions on where to put the file once you get it). The lines related to BibTeX are highlighed. It requires the LaTeX style file to produce citations in the right style in the text (matching the format of the references produced by ). You probably have this file already (assuming you have some implementation of TeX on your computer). If you don't, you can get it on this CTAN page. Hover over orangetext to see explanations.

When you run the LaTeX file through LaTeX and BibTeX (instructions below), you'll get output for the body of the document that looks roughly like this:

This document illustrates the use of BibTeX. You may want to refer to Arrow et al. (1961) or Aliprantis and Border (1994) or Maskin (1985). Or you may want to cite a specific page in a reference, like this: see Maskin (1985, p. 199). Or perhaps you want to cite more than one paper by Maskin: Maskin (1985, 1999). Or you want to make a parenthetical reference to one or more articles, in which case the \citealt command omits the parentheses around the year (Arrow et al. 1961).
A few more options for the command are available. Here they are:
Jones et al. (1990)
Jones, Baker, and Smith (1990)
(Jones et al. 1990)
(Jones, Baker, and Smith 1990)
(Jones et al., 1990, p. 99)
(e.g. Jones et al., 1990)
(e.g. Jones et al., 1990, p. 99)
Jones et al.
Jones, Baker, and Smith
1990
*Jones et al.'s (1990)

*Assumes \citeapos is defined in your style or document like this:

(Thanks to Christopher M. Duncombe Rae for pointing out this simple way of generating a possessive citation.)

The list of references will look like this:

Aliprantis, Charalambos D. and Kim C. Border (1994), Infinite Dimensional Analysis. Springer, Berlin.

Arrow, Kenneth J., Leonid Hurwicz, and Hirofumi Uzawa (1961), "Constraint qualifications in maximization problems." Naval Research Logistics Quarterly, 8, 175–191.

Maskin, Eric S. (1985), "The theory of implementation in Nash equilibrium: a survey." In Social Goals and Social Organization (Leonid Hurwicz, David Schmeidler, and Hugo Sonnenschein, eds.), 173–204, Cambridge University Press.

Maskin, Eric S. (1999), "Nash equilibrium and welfare optimality." Review of Economic Studies, 66, 23–38.

Example using

Here is an example using the bibliography style , which in included in many LaTeX systems.

When you run the LaTeX file through LaTeX and BibTeX (instructions below), you'll get output for the body of the document that differs from the output when you use only in that the names of all three authors of Arrow, Hurwicz, and Uzawa (1961) are listed in the first citation to that work, although not in the second, parenthetical, citation.

The list of references differs more significantly from the list produced by : only authors' initials, not their full first names, are included, and "&" rather than "and" is used as a separator; numbers in page ranges are separated by hyphens, rather than the conventional en-dashes. Precisely, the list of references produced by looks like this:

Aliprantis, C. D. & K. C. Border (1994), Infinite Dimensional Analysis. Berlin: Springer.

Arrow, K. J., Hurwicz, L., & Uzawa, H. (1961), Constraint qualifications in maximization problems. Naval Research Logistics Quarterly, 8, 175-191.

Maskin, E. S. (1985), The theory of implementation in Nash equilibrium: a survey. In L. Hurwicz, D. Schmeidler, & H. Sonnenschein (Eds.), Social Goals and Social Organization (p. 173-204). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Maskin, Eric S. (1999), Nash equilibrium and welfare optimality. Review of Economic Studies, 66, 23-38.

Other bibliography styles for author-year citations

A family of styles that produce author-year citations is available on this page.

Creating your own bibliography style

A BibTeX style file is plain text, which in principle you can edit. However, the language used is arcane, and changes that are more than trivial are tricky. A better way to proceed is to create a new style file from scratch, using the custom-bib package (that's how I created ). You run TeX on a file, which asks you a long list of questions about the features of the style you would like. You'll probably not be completely clear about your preferred answers to all the questions on your first attempt, but two or three runs should produce a format to your liking.
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