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I want to use a smaller font size for the bibliography, e.g., \footnotesize. What is the easiest way to achieve this? I currently do \renewenvironment{thebibliography}... and copy the definition from report.cls but with the \footnotesize inserted in. However, that seems to be a bit of a hack, so I'm looking for a cleaner way.

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I think your current method is the cleanest. If you find yourself doing this a lot, you might consider moving it from your document's preamble to a personal style (.sty) file. – godbyk Jul 27 '10 at 17:05
the ams document classes define \bibliofont for this purpose. it's worth checking the document class you are using before redefining thebibliography, but if a suitable command isn't available, your method is appropriate. – barbara beeton Apr 29 '12 at 11:12
up vote 55 down vote accepted

First I have to say that you should avoid fiddling with font sizes in order to squish more text into a document. Conferences and journals often discourage such formatting hacks; some might even reject papers found to be doing this.

Anyway, if you still need to to this for whatever reason, the easiest way I found is to write something like

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I thought this would also change the font size of the "References" heading, but to my surprise it doesn't. Nice! – Jitse Niesen Jul 28 '10 at 9:41
I wouldn't consider bibliographies typeset in a smaller size as a formatting hack - I've seen it quite often in professionally typeset books. – lockstep Aug 9 '10 at 22:49
@JitseNiesen: Unfortunately it changed size of the heading in my case. – nimcap Dec 21 '11 at 17:33
@nimcap, which packages are you using? if you cannot solve your problem, you might try to ask a new question. – Juan A. Navarro Dec 22 '11 at 16:53
@JuanA.Navarro: I did as the original asker's way, changed the sty file. – nimcap Dec 22 '11 at 17:14

Using the biblatex package you could also write


(Personally I'd use \small instead of \footnotesize.)

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seems that it does not work with \footcite? – pluton Aug 29 '11 at 22:59
This will lose the process of lowercasing letters of reference titles... – xuhdev Mar 26 at 2:36

And if you use the natbib package:

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This way looks the most elegant for me, thanks – yegor256 Nov 1 '10 at 15:27
If you are having problems with getting itshapes, you can use \renewcommand{\bibfont}{\normalfont\small} – Felix Z. Hoffmann Apr 29 '12 at 8:24

Using beamer+biblatex you could also write

\frame[shrink=50] {\printbibliography} 
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