This one looks like a question that should be solved just reading the package manual, but oddly I couldn't solve it neither that way.

I'm using natbib for an author-date bibliography style. I understood the difference between \citet and \citep. But, I can't understand the difference between \citet and the plain \cite.

Are they equal? Should I change all the \cite in \citet? (When I started writing I was using the classical 'Vancouver' style without natbib). Apparently the outputs of \cite and \citet look exactly the same.


1 Answer 1


The behavior of \cite{<key>} with natbib depends on the citation format (numerical vs. author-year) of the bibliography style in use. Thus, the results can be inconsistent (if you switch styles) and it's best to convert to \citet and \citep as appropriate.

From natbib (v8.31b) documentation, page 6:

Both \citep and \citet are defined by natbib and are thus not standard. The standard LaTeX command \cite should be avoided, because it behaves like \citet for author-year citations, but like \citep for numerical ones. There are many other commands for other special effects (Section 2.4).

  • I missed that part in the natbib documentation. Thank you very much.
    – Luca
    Jun 26, 2014 at 19:17

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