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I have quite a bit of trouble getting my in-text citations sorted alphabetically using biblatex. I am using the 'apa' style with biber. Since APA7 recommends sorting in-text citations primarily alphabetically I am surprised that this wasn't the default for me. In-text citations just show up in the order I put them in the code. I have already read through some related questions and found the sortcites and sorting=nyt options, which I put into my code. While I can influence the sorting of my bibliography with this just fine, it has no impact whatsoever on the in-text citations. This is regardless of which citation command I use (e.g. \autocites, \parencites).

This is the MWE, with which the problem still exists:

\documentclass{report}
\usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}
\usepackage[ngerman]{babel}
\usepackage[backend=biber, style=apa, sortcites, sorting=nyt]{biblatex}
\addbibresource{debugLib.bib}
\begin{document}    
\textcites{sellars}{belardi}
\printbibliography  
\end{document}

My library layout looks as follows:

@book{belardi,
  title = {Supervision: Grundlagen, Techniken, Perspektiven},
  shorttitle = {Supervision},
  author = {Belardi, Nando},
  date = {2005},
  series = {C.H. Beck Wissen},
  edition = {2., aktualisierte Aufl},
  publisher = {C.H. Beck},
  location = {München},
}

@article{sellars,
  title = {Learning from Contemporary Practice: An Exploration of Clinical Supervision in Physiotherapy},
  shorttitle = {Learning from Contemporary Practice},
  author = {Sellars, Julie},
  date = {2004},
  journaltitle = {Learn Health Soc Care},
  volume = {3},
  number = {2},
  pages = {64--82}
}

What I get with this is the following: In-text citation

References

All my software should be up to date - I triple checked. I know I could just manually change the order of the tags, but for the future I would like this to be done automatically. So I would be grateful if someone can see what I don't and can come up with a solution to put in-text citations in an alphabetical order.

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    biblatex cannot sort across different arguments (pairs of curly braces) of a multicite command, so \textcites{sellars}{belardi} does not sort, but \textcite{sellars,belardi} does.
    – moewe
    Commented Mar 6 at 19:12
  • 1
    Don't load style=apa, with sortcites, sorting=nyt, get rid of these two options. The style already sets sortcites and uses its own sorting scheme (which sorting=nyt, would override with a sorting scheme that is not APA compliant). You probably won't notice a difference in the output, but sorting=nyt, is subtly different from style=apa's default sorting and as a general rule I'd recommend to use as little options as possible.
    – moewe
    Commented Mar 6 at 19:14
  • Thanks so much moewe! Yes, I'd rather not load the extra sorting options too, since I believe the apa styleset was set up with intent. It was only my desperate attempts to force a sort. But your solution also worked for me! I have an additional question though: My institution unfortunately requires page numbers in the in-text citations, which is why I started using the \autocites command to have the option for an individual post option. A typical way I would use it would be: \autocites[1]{tag1}[2\psq]{tag2}. Is there any command which has the same output, but alphabetically sorted?
    – baltico
    Commented Mar 7 at 7:26

1 Answer 1

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The main problem here is that biblatex cannot sort across different arguments of a multicite command. So

\textcites{sellars}{belardi}

cannot be sorted, but

\textcite{sellars,belardi}

will be. This is not an issue if you don't need to give page references to your citations, because then the normal cite command with a comma-separated list of entries works just fine. If you have to give page references for each citation, you have to use the multicite version, in which case you have to sort manually. (Or try and use a workaround like Sorting citations using \cites command in biblatex. See also https://github.com/plk/biblatex/issues/214.)

A secondary point here is that with style=apa, you should drop the sortcites, sorting=nyt, options. The style already enables citation sorting (actually, it enables a slightly more complicated scheme to conform to APA requirements: https://github.com/plk/biblatex-apa/issues/152), so you don't need sortcites, because it is already set. You definitely shouldn't set sorting=nyt, since that will select generic name-year-title sorting, instead of the slightly more complex APA-compliant scheme that style=apa, sets automatically. Generally, I recommend to use as few options as possible: only use them when you know that you need them.

\documentclass{report}
\usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}
\usepackage[ngerman]{babel}
\usepackage[backend=biber, style=apa]{biblatex}
\begin{filecontents}{\jobname.bib}
@book{belardi,
  title      = {Supervision},
  subtitle   = {Grundlagen, Techniken, Perspektiven},
  author     = {Belardi, Nando},
  date       = {2005},
  series     = {C.H. Beck Wissen},
  edition    = {2., aktualisierte Aufl.},
  publisher  = {C.H. Beck},
  location   = {München},
}
@article{sellars,
  title        = {Learning from Contemporary Practice},
  subtitle     = {An Exploration of Clinical Supervision in Physiotherapy},
  author       = {Sellars, Julie},
  date         = {2004},
  journaltitle = {Learn Health Soc Care},
  volume       = {3},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {64--82}
}
\end{filecontents}
\addbibresource{\jobname.bib}
\begin{document}    
\textcite{sellars,belardi}

\textcite{belardi,sellars}

\printbibliography  
\end{document}

Belardi (2005) und Sellars (2004)
Belardi (2005) und Sellars (2004)

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