When citing Jakob Nielsen's works with apacite package and bibliography style (with the option natbibapa), the citation call-out is generated like this:

(J. Nielsen, 1993; J. Nielsen & Molich, 1990)

This is not what I intend, as APA should not include the author's first name as an initial. It should be like this:

(Nielsen, 1993; Nielsen & Molich, 1990)

This is how I've done it in LaTeX:

\citep{Nielsen1990, Nielsen1993} 

I am also curious about why the sequence is inverted to how I wrote in LaTeX.

BibTeX entries, generated by Mendeley:

address = {New York, New York, USA},
author = {Nielsen, Jakob and Molich, Rolf},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems Empowering people - CHI '90},
doi = {10.1145/97243.97281},
isbn = {0201509326},
pages = {249--256},
publisher = {ACM Press},
title = {{Heuristic evaluation of user interfaces}},
url = {http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?doid=97243.97281},
year = {1990}
archivePrefix = {arXiv},
arxivId = {arXiv:1011.1669v3},
author = {Nielsen, Jakob},
booktitle = {Usability Engineering},
doi = {10.1145/1508044.1508050},
eprint = {arXiv:1011.1669v3},
isbn = {0125184069},
issn = {10772626},
number = {3},
pages = {362},
pmid = {18369261},
title = {{Usability Engineering}},
url = {http://www.useit.com/jakob/useengbook.html},
volume = {44},
year = {1993}


\documentclass[12pt, twoside]{book}    

\citep{Nielsen1990, Nielsen1993} 
  • 1
    I cannot reproduce and get (Nielsen, 1993; Nielsen & Molich, 1990). What I suspect is that you have another Nielsen with another first name somewhere in your bibliography (either in the file bibliografi or library). Also check if there is a mis-spelled Jakob Nielsen, a J. Nielsen or a Jakob Middlename Nielsen. Then bibtex might abbreviate the first name of the author to make sure the references are unique.
    – Wiebke
    May 27, 2017 at 17:11
  • thank you @Wiebke, moments ago I discovered that I have another Nielsen (L. Nielsen). You cleared it up for me. Is this APA formatting, perhaps? May 28, 2017 at 16:07
  • 1
    No, I'm having the same for an authoryear style and using biblatex to create the bibliography. I would say it's expected (and sensible) behaviour, since you want to be able to distinguish the two authors easily also in the main text. I think biblatex has some options to control this behaviour (uniquename and such), but I'm not sure about apacite. You might have to check the documentation if you really want to change that ...
    – Wiebke
    May 28, 2017 at 18:28

1 Answer 1


This behaviour is expected if there is another author with different first name but same last name in the bibliography. Otherwise authors with the same last name would not be unique.

The OPs bibliography contained works of both "J. Nielsen" and "L. Nielsen". LaTeX quoted with the initials to make them distinguishable.

This behaviours also occurs, if there is an author of the same last name in the bibliography, but with a mis-spelled first name, an abbreviated first name or 2 autors with the same first and last name, but only one with a middle name. Bib(la)tex doesn't know they're the same and abbreviates their first names when they're cited.

  • 1
    Just in case readers of the initial posting missed the tidbit in the comments, you may want to state more explicitly that what's going on is that the OP's bibliography contains works by both "J. Nielsen" and "L. Nielsen".
    – Mico
    Aug 12, 2017 at 16:47

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