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Following a question on here, I also decided to reflect on my referencing skills. My style guide APA Harvard 6th wants names as Last, First. But with Chinese names I have this problem: do I reverse their name or has it already been reversed?

And do all Chinese authors follow this last name-first name convention, so because of this ambiguity is it correct to cite all Chinese names e.g. Xiu Ling, with the italics always being the last name?

When writing academic articles or essays, espeically in the bibliography, I also have trouble deciphering which to use for Chinese authors and what I do is tend to reverse it, because I know authors would not be aware of the Last Name, First Name convention in the west ***, especially if the Chinese authors in question do not have a big online presence (a name format set out by the authors themselves). And espeically if the style guide wants it a certain way e.g. APA Harvard wants it: Last, First too even for Western names e.g. Julia Roberts. Roberts, Julia. etc.

*** and if Westerners cite the wrong format e.g. Xiu Ling and they have to write it in APA style they may write it as Ling, Xiu incorrectly.

  • Check a few papers from the journal that the paper that concerns you was published. The template of the journal should be uniform, i.e. if in one paper you see Roberts, Julia, and in another (or even the same) you see Xiu, Liang – you can safely assume that Xiu is the last name. – corey979 Aug 11 at 13:15
  • Since you are referencing published papers, for better or worse one should use the format given in that paper. The point of the reference is so others can find the specific paper. One should assume the authors were ok with the format or else they would have changed it in proofs. – Jon Custer Aug 11 at 16:14
  • I believe the OP is asking about a non-issue. When it is necessary to cite a Chinese scholar's work in the main body of one's own work, it is not necessary to mention the full name; only the family name with publication year in parrenheses suffices. – Apollyon Aug 12 at 5:48
  • It is unclear what the OP is asking about. If he is asking about which order to present Chinese names in the bibliography, the answer is sraightforward: Just follow the order of other names, .e.g. names of English-speaking scholars. The name order in the bibliography is always consistent. – Apollyon Aug 12 at 5:59
  • @Apollyon that is called in-text citations, separate from the bibliography. It is pretty clear what I’m talking about. – aesking Aug 12 at 10:04
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In publications outside China, I would expect Chinese authors to publish in the same format as other authors, "given name family name". Of course it is possible that the authors made a mistake, but ultimately you cannot necessarily account for that and I would suggest that it is not particularly likely.

However for Chinese publications, even those Chinese journals published in English, the order of the names may well be written in the Chinese format of family name first. Another thing to remember is that the vast majority of Chinese family names are one character/syllable, while given names may have multiple characters/syllables. So if there are authors with multiple syllables in the name, there is a good chance (although not 100%) that this is not the family name.

  • I believe the OP is asking about a non-issue. When it is necessary to cite a Chinese scholar's work in the main body of one's own work, it is not necessary to mention the full name; only the family name with publication year in parrenheses suffices. – Apollyon Aug 12 at 6:00
  • It is unclear what the OP is asking about. If he is asking about which order to present Chinese names in the bibliography, the answer is sraightforward: Just follow the order of other names, .e.g. names of English-speaking scholars. The name order in the bibliography is always consistent. – Apollyon Aug 12 at 6:01
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    @Bobgom, thanks for clarifying. Your answer made me recall that I cited an English language paper from a Chinese journal in a paper I'm working on, and it turns out my bibliographic software had mixed up the family and given names. So, thanks again! – Emma Aug 12 at 9:28
  • @Emma glad to know I’m not the only suffering from this problem! :) – aesking Aug 12 at 10:05
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    My issue also concerns in-text citations, @Apollyon. I'm writing a paper using LaTeX and BibTeX, for a journal where the citations are required to be formatted as 'Chen et al (Year)', meaning that the order of the given and family names in my *.bib file are important for the in-text citations. – Emma Aug 12 at 11:30

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