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I'm using scientific workplace 5.5 and if write \begin{thebibliography}{LongestLabel} the bibliography still seems to use 99 instead of LongestLabel. Is there a way of getting aroung this issue?

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That should work. I suggest you provide an example showing the bad behavior. –  ASdeL Jan 17 '12 at 18:12
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Apparently SWP tries to find the longest label and ignores user input. Since I was using a label with a special character, this was the longest label according to SW, but when typeset it was not and hence the width became to small. To overcome this I wrote \relax after the longest label so that SWP would recognize this as the longest label.

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