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Word Bibliography Et Al

I use Zotero's plugin for Word 2011 for Mac and frequently come across the following issue:

No matter what citation style is set for the document, Zotero will sometimes (with no apparent pattern) cite papers with multiple authors followed by "et al." in text. Sometimes it lists two, and sometimes three; regardless it looks bizarre and is not a standard format in any field I know.

As an example, if I have a paper:

Smith, A., Grant, B., Chen, C., Holder, D. (2016). "Are PhDs really worth it?"

Zotero will sometimes format in-text citations as follows:

Some people believe PhDs are not worthwhile (Smith, Grant, Chen, et al., 2016).

Zotero does this seemingly at random, but consistently with the same papers (i.e. if I delete this sentence and re-type it, the in-text citation will look the same). Obviously, in the case above, the appropriate in-text citation would just be "Smith et al., 2016".

Does anyone know how to fix this systematically? Manually editing Zotero in-text citations creates a mess of problems and often reverts to the old format.

This Answer follows the comments made on the Question. It currently assumes Word 2007 and that the .xsl template being used is called APASixthEditionOfficeOnline.xsl, which may be in "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\Bibliography\Style"

This XSL Transform contains a Template called templ_str_AndOthersUnCap. (my previous comment said "templ_str_AndOtherUnCap" which is incorrect.

Open that file using a suitable editor (Windows Notepad works). Save the file under another name (say, "APA6mod.xsl"). Modify the file as follows:

Replace the entire called "templ_str_AndOthersUnCap" with the following XSL code:

Adjust "et al." to be the precise text you need. You may also need to modify the LCID "3082" or modify the "test=" part to deal with several possible LCIDs (for Spanish (Spain), Spanish (Mexico) etc.). For example:

adds the Spanish "traditional sort" LCID.

Find the following template:

and replace the template by

(Change the relevant texts in there as you think fit. The "APA Sixth Edition mod" text is the one that appears in the dropdown in Word's Ribbon).

Save the file again.

Restart Word, open the document containing the bibliography, then use References->Citations and Bibliography->Style to select the new XSL. Word verifies and loads the various .xsl files when you click that dropdown. If everything is OK, you should now see two APA6 styles - the original one, and the one titled "APA Sixth Edition mod". If you do not see the "mod" one, it probably indicates that either the .xsl file is in the wrong folder, or that there is an error in the .xsl file.

If you do the new Style, select it. As far as I can tell, Word should re-evaluate all the Citation and Bibliography fields automatically. You should verify that everything is OK and that you now have the text you want. Remember that you would need this transform on each PC where you need to view/print the document.

Once Word has decided that your .xsl is valid, you can in fact keep it open and modify it while Word is still open. This makes debugging a bit easier. For example, if you need to change the "et al."in the template you modified, you could

  • open the .xsl file in Notepad
  • modify the "et al." text
  • save the file
  • in Word, choose a different Style in the dropdown
  • in Word, choose the "mod" style in the dropdown

However, if you make a mistake that invalidates the XSL, when you try that last step, your "mod" Style will disappear from the dropdown. At that point you will have to fix the template and restart Word to get it to see your Style again.

I have now looked at the situation for Word 2010, and as far as I can see, the same template is used, the same changes would work, but the default location is different (use "Office14" in the path name rather than "Office12"). I have not looked at Windows Word 2013 or 2016.

As a bit of background, the XSL code to do with LCIDs is trying to establish what LCID (locale ID) it should use. Ideally, we would be able to avoid hardcoding "et al." by writing the XSL so that it said "If the LCID is 3082, use LCID 1033 (or whatever) instead". But Word does not load the regional information for all regions, only the regional information for the citation that it is currently processing. So hardcoding of one kind or another is probably unavoidable.

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