Take the 2-minute tour ×
TeX - LaTeX Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for users of TeX, LaTeX, ConTeXt, and related typesetting systems. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have several entries in my list of references that include of the order of 40 authors. Is there a way to make bibtex automatically reduce these lists to e.g. the first name + "et al."?

I don't want to edit the BibTex entries manually and I cannot use biblatex. If at all possible I would also make as little changes as possible to the bibliography style.

There are similar questions, but none of those had a concise answer:

natbib e.g. seems to change only the reference within the text, but not the entry in the bibliography.

EDIT: I am using \bibliographystyle{unsrt} as style definition.

share|improve this question
    
This seems to be a duplicate of the questions you have linked to? Is there some specific problem you are having or do you just find the answers to the linked question unsatisfactory? –  Seamus Aug 26 '11 at 11:05
    
Yes, it's a deliberate duplicate -- somehow none of the answers there seem to match my usecase: They either advise to use biblatex, or to use a different style. And also natbib doesn't seem to be appropriate. –  fuenfundachtzig Aug 26 '11 at 11:54
4  
So it's not a duplicate: Your question is "How do I reduce long author lists in the bibliography (not in the citation) to et al. using something like the unsrt style without moving to biblatex"? which is more specific and not covered by the other questions. Is that correct? –  Seamus Aug 26 '11 at 14:18
    
Yes, exactly. Sorry for not being clear in that point. –  fuenfundachtzig Aug 27 '11 at 8:42

6 Answers 6

up vote 32 down vote accepted

The natbib package manages the creation and appearance of citations. However, it does not, by itself, determine whether and how lists of numerous authors should be truncated, either in a citation or in the reference listed in the bibliography. Truncation issues are defined in the .bst file, which is called in the command \bibliographystyle{<somestyle>}. If you can't find an existing .bst file that meets your needs, you can always create one by running LaTeX on makebst.tex (which can be found on the CTAN). Running LaTeX on this file creates a set of interactive questions (with all options nicely explained), and the output of the program will be the .bst file you want.


Additional write-up, upon receiving information that @fuenfundachtzig uses the unsrt bibliography style.

The following should work:

  • First, find the file unsrt.bst on your system. Make a copy of this file and name the copy, say, unsrt85.bst. Don't edit a system file directly.

  • Open the file unsrt85.bst in your favorite text editor. Find the function format.names (starting on l. 185 or so) and locate the following two lines:

          nameptr #1 >
            { namesleft #1 >
    
  • Assuming that you want to print out just the first author whenever there are more than five authors, replace these two lines with

          nameptr #1 >
             {
              nameptr #3
              #1 + =
              numnames #5
              > and
                { "others" 't :=
                  #1 'namesleft := }
                'skip$
              if$
              namesleft #1 >
    

    I.e., the first line remains unchanged, while the second line needs to be replaced with ten new lines of code.

  • Save the file unsrt85.bst and use it in your documents from now on. Depending on your TeX system and on where you save the file to, you may also have to rebuild TeX's filename database so that BibTeX can find the file.

share|improve this answer
    
+1 for suggesting unsrt85.bst as filename :) –  fuenfundachtzig Aug 27 '11 at 7:07
    
Glad you like my sense of humor... Bigger question: does the new code work on your system? –  Mico Aug 27 '11 at 14:42
    
Yes, it does, thanks a lot! –  fuenfundachtzig Aug 27 '11 at 22:48
    
Excellent--as a user of unsrt.bst, this worked perfectly. –  Tobin Fricke Sep 14 '11 at 3:44
1  
@Frank -- You're almost there: To truncate the list of authors (or editors) to 2 whenever there are more than 2 of them, you'd (i) replace numnames #5 with numnames #2 on line 5 and (ii) replace nameptr #3 with nameptr #2 on line 3. –  Mico May 29 '12 at 5:56

If you are using BibTeX, place and others after the main authors and the compiled file should show et. al, e.g.:

Author="H. Morgan and others"
share|improve this answer
    
Thanks for your answer, the focus of the question is, however, on "automatically". –  fuenfundachtzig Jan 30 '13 at 9:13
2  
Not automatic but very helpful for me anyway! –  YMomb Feb 27 '13 at 15:27
    
Now that .bib files are more and more automatically generated by desktop applications (such as mendeley, endnote and others), your approach has the result of vanishing the purpose for which these applications were made (simplify references management and export them without too much trouble) –  Alessandro Cuttin Jul 12 '13 at 18:25
    
yes, of course... and if you still can't get what you want, you could always use a typewriter. I think I have one somewhere in my garage –  Alex Monras Jun 28 at 0:15

There should be no need to edit a .bib file manually to have the desired number of authors before 'et al.' in either the citations or the bibliography/reference list.

The number of authors listed in citations and the bibliography is managed by the bibliography style. For example, using the APA style (which requires up to the first six authors before 'et al.' for book references in the bibliography):

sample.tex file:

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{apacite}
\bibliographystyle{apacite}

\begin{document}
Found in \cite{abk}.

\bibliography{sample}
\end{document}

sample.bib file:

@book{abk,
  author    = "A. Man and A. Woman and Second Man and Third Man and Fourth Man and Second Woman and Third Woman and Fourth Woman and Fifth Man",
  title     = "This book",
  publisher = "Men \& Women",
  year      = 2025,
}

output (not formatted, just the text from the .pdf)

Found in (Man et al., 2025).

References

Man, A., Woman, A., Man, S., Man, T., Man, F., Woman, S., et al. (2025). This book. Men & Women.

You would need to identify an appropriate style, usually provided by the publisher if they accept contributions produced using (Any)TeX or from the pre-configured styles available, or you could produce your own if the requirement is sufficiently important. If you want suggestions for possible styles it would help if you said which style you are currently using and the changes you want to achieve.

To give an example of a different style using the same sample.bib file but with the bibliography style changed:

\documentclass{article}
\bibliographystyle{alpha}

\begin{document}
Found in \cite{abk}.

\bibliography{sample}
\end{document}

This style produces (again, just the text from the .pdf):

Found in [MWM+ 25].

References

[MWM+ 25] A. Man, A. Woman, Second Man, Third Man, Fourth Man, Second Woman, Third Woman, Fourth Woman, and Fifth Man. This book. Men & Women, 2025.

This does not truncate the number of authors in the bibliography at all (unlike the first example using the APA style).

share|improve this answer
3  
I don't think that this solution addresses the original question: Apparently, he/she wants to have the truncation (to "First Author et al") not only in the citation but also in the bibliographic entry. –  Mico Aug 26 '11 at 15:42
    
@Mico, you're right. –  fuenfundachtzig Aug 27 '11 at 7:05
    
@Mas: The question is about the bibliography. Sorry for the confusion and thanks for the nice answer anyway. –  fuenfundachtzig Aug 27 '11 at 7:05
    
@mico -- sorry about any confusion. The first example, using apa style, was intended to show limiting the number of authors listed in the bibliography (I took the OP's 'e.g. the first name + "et al."' to refer to the reduction to one name to be an example, and felt that reduction from 40+ authors to 6 was worthwhile :-). The second example, which does not reduce the number of authors was simply to demonstrate that it is the selection of the bibliographic style that determines the number of authors listed in the bibliography and there is no need to edit the .bib file to achieve this. –  mas Aug 27 '11 at 19:52
    
@mas -- my apologies for not noticing that the first of your two examples did achieve a truncation -- from "many" to five authors. –  Mico Aug 29 '11 at 2:52

You can redo the unsrt style with custom-bib. Copy the following into a file myunsrt.dbj:

\input docstrip

\preamble
\endpreamble

\postamble
\endpostamble

\keepsilent
\askforoverwritefalse
\def\MBopts{\from{merlin.mbs}{%
seq-no,% no sorting
nmlm,% limit number of names in bibliography
x5,% maximum number of names to appear
m5,% minimum number of names before et al. is written
}}
\generate{\file{myunsrt.bst}{\MBopts}}
\endbatchfile

and then TeX it with

latex myunsrt.dbj

You will get a few subtle differences to unsrt:

  • There will be italic correction after italic text
  • The note field will have a captilazed first word
  • A Ph.D. thesis will appear as "Ph.D. thesis" instead of "PhD thesis"
  • Titles of theses will be emphasized, too, like article titles, or book titles
  • Address and year will not be part of a book title in an incollection, but part of the incollection item; this changes the order of address, year, and publisher (year will always be last)

In my opinion, those differences are for good. You can change the number of authors that you like to see in the bibliography by changing the m5 and x5 in the dbj file to something else, say m7 and x7.

share|improve this answer

Like @mico said, a sure way to do this is to create the .bst file with makebst.tex.

For those who use natbib, I created a file on my own with the folloowing features:

  • in the list of references, for every entry the list of authors is truncated after the third one
  • in a citation, the list of authors is truncated to first author et al. for three or more authors.

The file can be downloaded from this page.

share|improve this answer

You can use abntex2-num or abntex2-alf as style. If you don't have it install the TexLive texlive-bibtex-extra package.

http://www.ctan.org/tex-archive/macros/latex/contrib/abntex2

share|improve this answer
    
Could you say a bit more about these style files? E.g., do they mimic unsrt's overall setting very closely? If not, where do they differ from unsrt? I take it that one produces numeric-style citation callouts whereas the other produces authoryear-style citation callouts? Is their truncation behavior programmable? The user guides appear to be written in Portuguese -- are English language versions of the guides available? Please advise. –  Mico Oct 7 at 13:53

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.