How do I cite references such that instead of appearing a number in the citation, the initials of the authors appears using natbib? For example, if I have this reference

"[JRP] Jordan, M., Rodman, D., and Pippen, S. The best basketball team ever. 1999."

When I cite this inside the document, I want something like this:

"In a last minute play something happened [JRP]."

I've tried several options in natbib without success. This webpage have a nice description of natbib options and commands. However, I cannot find the proper way for doing this kind of citation.

  • 4
    Why do you want to use natbib? This is how alpha behaves. Commented Feb 7, 2011 at 10:57
  • It doesn't need to be with natbib. Is just that I always use natbib. Commented Feb 7, 2011 at 10:59
  • 1
    I see that "alpha" is just a bibliography style. But with natbib I have several options for the citation style. So with natbib I can change easily from on citation style to another without too many changes. Commented Feb 7, 2011 at 11:10
  • 4
    Maybe you should have a look at biblatex (mirror.ctan.org/help/Catalogue/entries/biblatex.html).
    – domwass
    Commented Feb 7, 2011 at 13:27

1 Answer 1


You have to play with the bibliographystyle of your document. You can find a nice list of bibliography styles at


The one you want really is close the alpha style, but without the year, and is called alphanum. Therefore, just add


close the end of your document (before the bibliography). In case the style is not installed on your system you will get an error when using bibtex on the document (something like "I couldn't open style file alphanum.bst"). In this case download the file, for example from


and install in a place where bibtex can find it.

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