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I have a growing BibTeX file which has problems with consistency. For example, since I have copied BibTeX references from many places, I often have works by the same author, but with different names because one of them used an abbreviation or the middle name while the other did not. I'd like to go through my file and find the common names and make them separate entities with a specific key, and then reference that key as the author's name in all of the references by that author, eliminating problems with formatting inconsistency. Is there any way to do this? I use biblatex.

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Not exactly what you ask for, but with JabRef you can easily sort all the entries by the author's last name. Further, you can select multiple entries, and change the author field of all of those at once, by using Tools --> Set/clear/rename fields. It would make it fairly easy to to remove any inconsistencies in the author names. –  Torbjørn T. Oct 15 '11 at 3:03
    
I see now. It's pretty easy with a GUI. I'm now using Mendeley, though, JabRef isn't as pretty and can't display all characters. –  Nate Glenn Oct 25 '11 at 2:35
    
Which characters is JabRef unable to display? I'll add my comment as an answer. –  Torbjørn T. Oct 25 '11 at 6:51
    
It's usually regarded as 'best practice' to store names in a database exactly as given in the original literature. Thus if an author is given as 'A. N. Other' in one paper and 'Andrew N. Other' in a second, I would record the two in that way. Now, it may well be that the two are the same person, but it would be a bad idea to cite the first one as 'Andrew ...' as you're then presuming information. –  Joseph Wright Oct 25 '11 at 9:42
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2 Answers

Substituting Norman Ramsey's nbibtex for bibtex when compiling documents will allow you to use either traditional Bibtex keys or search operators in your cite commands, which I think is a fairly small step that is likely to solve your problem. The accompanying nbibfind command might also be useful.

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This can be done fairly easily with a reference manager such as JabRef or Mendeley.

In JabRef you can easily sort all the entries by the author's last name. Further, you can select multiple entries, and change the author field of all of those at once, by using Tools --> Set/clear/rename fields.

In Mendeley sorting by author is equally easy. Multiple entries can be selected, and the author of all changed in the right pane of the program.

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