November 29, 2010

Using APA citation and bibliography styles in Lyx

Lyx ( is IMHO certainly the best software for writing longer,
structured documents like a thesis. But most of its users are in the
hard sciences so if you have a soft-science problem, like how to use
APA (American Psychological Association) citation and bibliography
styles, it is harder to find help. That’s why I have written this very
brief note on just that.

First, you have to install the necessary styles so that lyx can use
them. I am on ubuntu so I installed texlive and anything related to it
using the package manager. Beware though, these are pretty big
installs and can take a while. I think installing texlive is easier
than installing individual styles.

Second, you have to pick the style you want in your bibliography. In
lyx, click on the field where your bibliography is and select a style.
There are a lot of apa-like styles such as apa, apacann etc, I have no
idea what the differences are but I chose apacite and that works fine
for me. If you don’t have a bibliography yet, you have to go Insert /
List-TOC / Bibtex bibliography.

Third, in your document you have to declare that you want to use the
same style: Document / Settings / latex preamble and then type
usepackage{apacite} or whatever the style name is that you selected
in step two.

If your doc doesn’t compile, try selecting a different style.

That’s it. I was pretty pleased with the results.

You still might find a couple of niggles.

First, if you have an Institution as an author (e.g. the World Bank),
bibtex will treat this as a name so you will get listings like Bank,
World. To get round this you have to put the name in braces: {World
Bank}. Now I use zotero as my reference manager, and the good news is
that zotero doesn’t mess with this, so if you write {World Bank} in
the author field in Zotero it will stay the same in bibtex, which
means it will come out right in lyx.

My other niggle was that bibtex likes to decapitalise words inside
titles, so Problems in Kosova” becomes Problems in kosova”. The same
braces can help you out here - try experimenting with {Problems in
Kosova} or Problems in {K}osova until you get what you want. Again,
this works OK in zotero. A more permanent way is to modify the corresponding .bst file which is the culprit, as suggested on As suggested there, you have to edit the file, in my case /usr/share/texmf-texlive/bibtex/bst/apacite/apacite.bst, and find instances of something like

{ title t”$ }
and change them to something like
{ title }

This worked nicely for me.

The only trouble I am left with is that the last two workarounds mess
up bibliographies generated directly by zotero because the braces
remain for all to see. Still, a quick search-and-replace can fix that.

lyx zotero

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