How does Zotero parse things in the name fields?

There are actually three parts to the story of names in Zotero (“creators”, in techie lingo):

  1. Creator types;
  2. Field mode; and
  3. Name-part parsing.

Each of these topics is covered below. The first two are very simple.

Creator types

Each name field has a label to its left, which is actually a button. Clicking on it will open a list of possible *creator types* for the current item type. You can change the type of an individual creator by clicking on its label and selecting from the list.

Field mode

There is a small square icon to the right of each name (just before the (+) and (-) buttons used to add and remove creators). Clicking on the square icon will toggle the name between single-field mode and two-field mode.

Name-part parsing

In two-field mode only, personal names are parsed into five separate parts for formatting purposes. Here they are, with a brief explanation of each:

1) In the Juris-M (formerly Multilingual Zotero/MLZ) variant of official Zotero, single-field names are parsed into subunits by splitting the field on pipe (“|”) characters. In official Zotero, the field is printed exactly as written.
2) Chinese and Japanese names will render correctly in official Zotero. Names in some languages (Khmer and Myanmar being two examples) are not yet handled correctly by official Zotero; users with special requirements may wish to explore Juris-M, which is able to apply precise name formatting rules across all language domains.
3) In some other countries, individuals have no family or clan name, but only given names. Formatting conventions in such countries vary. In Myanmar and Cambodia, the entire set of names is always written in formal contexts (including citations). In Mongolia, it is customary to handle the bare patronymic in the same way as a “family” name. Where names with special requirements must be handled frequently, Juris-M may be worth a look.