How can I cite authors in my paper as follows:

Smith et al. (2006)

Robert and Smith (2001)

Robert (1001)

using BibTeX file.


I assume you're using BibTeX. If that's not the case, please speek up.

The citation call-out style you appear to be looking to use is commonly called "author-year style". A more old-fashioned term, still widely encountered, would be "harvard style".

You need to do two things:

  • Employ a citation management package -- natbib, apacite, and harvard come to mind -- that can generate authoryear-style citation call-outs. If you're submitting a paper to a journal, a citation management package may be chosen automatically for you by the journal's template. E.g., the elsarticle document class, which is used by many Elsevier-house journals, loads the natbib package automatically.

  • Employ a bibliography style that supports creating authoryear-style citation call-outs. Some bibliography styles can generate both numeric-style and authoryear-style citation call-outs; others can generate only one or the other. E.g., bibliography styles such as plain and ieeetr can generate only numeric-style citation call-outs and would thus not be able to meet your objective.

Which bibliography style to use depends on both the formatting guidelines you may have to observe for bibliographic entries and the citation management package you're working with. E.g., if a journal requires you to employ the elsarticle document class (and hence the natbib package; see above), it will likely also require you to use the elsarticle-harv bibliography style -- assuming, of course, that authoryear-style citation call-outs are required by the journal. Alternatively, if a journal requires you to format bibliographic entries (as well as citation call-outs) according to the 6th edition of the "Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association", you will almost certainly have to employ the apacite bibliography style along with the apacite package mentioned earlier.

If you are free to select both the citation management package and the bibliographaphy style, you may want to start out with the natbib package (load it with the option authoryear for good measure) and the plainnat bibliography style.

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