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The \cite command places the author's name and date in the document. If I have already mentioned an author's name, though, I only need the date and maybe a letter: "Lewis (1998b) claimed that ..." How do I do this?

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Welcome to TeX.SE; you should also tell which packages you are using, as the default behavior of LaTeX for citations is not author-year. Is it natbib, biblatex or another package? – egreg May 16 '11 at 23:34
It's just bibtex. I'm not using any special packages. I've been thinking of switching to natbib, though. – Nate Glenn May 17 '11 at 3:18
up vote 5 down vote accepted

If you happen to use the natbib package, \citeyear{key} should give you the year and \citeyearpar{key} the year in parentheses. There is also the complementary command \citeauthor{key} to give you the author(s) only. See the beginning of natbib.sty for other options.

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