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.

Quick question, hopefully with a quick answer. I'm writing a paper where I'm limited by length (2 pages) and I need references, but it doesn't have to look nice. I'd like LaTeX to compress my bibliography to fit on as few lines as possible.

I have this (except, you know, longer and actual books and articles):

[1] Book 1
[2] Article 1
[3] Book 2
[4] Book 3
[5] Article 2

and I want this:

[1] Book 1 [2] Article 1 [3] Book 2 [4] Book 3 [5] Article 2

Edit: I'm not using any special bibliography packages and my document class is article.

Edit 2: Here's my bbl file:


\newblock Swarm {AI}: {A} {G}eneral-{P}urpose {S}warm {I}ntelligence

Y.~Shoham and K.~Leyton-Brown.
\newblock {\em Multiagent Systems: Algorithmic, Game-Theoretic, and Logical
\newblock Cambridge University Press, 2008.

\newblock {\em An Introduction to MultiAgent Systems}.
\newblock John Wiley \& Sons Ltd, 2002.

share|improve this question
I removed the {bibtex} tag because the question is not specifically about BibTeX, but about modifying the thebibliography environment. –  lockstep Mar 31 '11 at 16:44
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 23 down vote accepted

Since you did not say which document class or bibliography packages you're using I will give you a general answer.

A bibliography like this uses a numbered list. The paralist package provides such in-paragraph lists: you could use the inparaenum environment of paralist to get numbered items within a paragraph without linebreaks.

For instance, with article these two redefinitons would achieve it:


The bibliography would then look like:

alt text

Further features of paralist may be used for customization.

Edit: here's a minimal example showing it with your example bbl file. Note, I additionally disabled \par temporarily, because the bbl file contains empty lines.



alt text

share|improve this answer
Furthermore, it's straightfoward to convert the .bbl file output by Bibtex to such a list: just change the begin/end tags to the approproate environment. –  Charles Stewart Nov 18 '10 at 12:53
@Stefan Thanks for your help! I tried doing what you said and bibtex refused to compile. You used a lot of new commands that I've never seen before so I had a hard time figuring out the errors. –  JohnS Nov 18 '10 at 18:04
@Charles I tried this and it worked. It took a little more effort than just changing the begin/end tags, but it was close enough for my work in this case. Thanks. –  JohnS Nov 18 '10 at 18:05
@JohnS: it can be modified to work with BibTeX. For example, if you post your .bbl file I could adjust the redefinitions. Instead of editing the .bbl after each BibTeX run LaTeX could to that adjustment for you. –  Stefan Kottwitz Nov 18 '10 at 18:21
@Stefan Added to the question. –  JohnS Nov 19 '10 at 3:43
show 2 more comments

The original poster didn't use "special bibliography packages", but for the sake of completeness here's a solution using biblatex. (Note that the redefinition of \defbibenvironment is intended for numeric bibliography styles. For alphabetic styles see the original definition in alphabetic.bbx and change it correspondingly; for styles without a label replace the third argument of \defbibenvironment in my code example with \addspace.)





  author = {Author, A.},
  year = {2001},
  title = {Alpha},

  author = {Buthor, B.},
  year = {2002},
  title = {Bravo},

  author = {Cuthor, C.},
  year = {2003},
  title = {Charlie},






(The filecontents environment is only used to include some external files directly into the example, so that it compiles. It is not necessary for the solution.)

EDIT: Since line breaks after labels should be discouraged, I replaced the second \addspace with \addhighpenspace.

share|improve this answer
To further compactify your bibliography, add \small to the first empty pair of braces in the \defbibenvironment. Or if you're feeling really pushed for space \scriptsize –  Seamus Mar 6 '11 at 21:09
@Seamus: Why not simply use \bibfont? –  lockstep Mar 6 '11 at 21:12
I don't know about bibfont. I'm just poking around biblatex innnards... –  Seamus Mar 6 '11 at 21:14
Oh yeah. \renewcommand\bibfont{\scriptsize} is much easier... –  Seamus Mar 6 '11 at 21:16
Thanks! Especially for adding the line about styles without a label, which makes the answer truly general. I had an older redefinition that no longer works with recent biblatex and this solves the problem for me. –  Alan Munn May 15 '11 at 16:32
add comment

Your Answer


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.