I'm trying to compile the following MWE:


  author = {{N{\"o}me}, Name},
  year         = {2014},
  title        = "Why Is Apple Launching a New Version of the {{iPod}}?"



Random citation \cite{ab_cd_2015} embeddeed in text.

 % acm, plain works
 % alpha, alphadin, alphaurl, geralpha work not


When I compile this, I get:

(./mwe.aux) (./mwe.bbl
! Argument of \OT1\" has an extra }.
<inserted text> 
l.1 \begin{thebibliography}{{N{\"}}14}

When I change author to either {N{\"o}me, Name}, {{N{o}me}, Name} or {N\"ome, Name} it compiles fine. What is it about {{N{\"o}me}, Name} that triggers the error? I generate the BibTeX from Zotero, and I'm trying to come up with rules that generate working BibTeX, this one has me stumped.

  • Sorry, but Zotero is known for handing malformed bib entries. In particular, author={{N{\"o}me}, Name} is absurd.
    – egreg
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 16:47
  • You can't pin this on Zotero -- this is my own doing. I'm trying to reduce the absurdity to the minimum, but it's not just bracing: author = {nN\"ome, Name} also flames out.
    – retorquere
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 18:56
  • N\"ome is wrong anyway.
    – egreg
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 19:03
  • OK, learn something new everyday. I don't generate that, but I always though \" meant "put umlauts on next char". Thanks, that clears that up for me.
    – retorquere
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 19:07
  • It's wrong in a BibTeX author field, where it must be N{\"o}me
    – egreg
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 19:10

1 Answer 1


The field

author = {{N{\"o}me}, Name},

is malformed, according to the (complex) rules of BibTeX, because it produces the faulty entry


in the .bbl file.

Essentially, the inner braces are ignored, so you end up as if the name was


which would produce almost the same, that is,


The only difference are the missing braces.


author = {N{\"o}me, Name},

you get the correct


Note that the number of letters is as expected, that is, three. Also in the previous cases there are three tokens, but not the ones LaTeX expects.

  • OK, that gets me closer to understanding what's going on. I've seen that 14 crop up, but I can't trace back why it does. So the best approach would then be to not wrap braces around the last name, as a general rule?
    – retorquere
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 18:58
  • For some reason, adding \relax after the opening brace allows all the failing samples I could throw at it so far to compile. Is this safe to do? I'm stuck with the task of translating "whatever is in Zotero" to "BibTeX that compiles always" algorithmically.
    – retorquere
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 19:01
  • I had been adding braces around the last name to account for things like particles, such as described here: nwalsh.com/tex/texhelp/bibtx-23.html
    – retorquere
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 19:19
  • I have a very similar case. Hovever, the author surname contains of two parts, namely {D{\'i}az Alonso}, Javier, i.e. the braces are necessary. What do I do in such a case?
    – Mik
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 16:16

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