I'm creating a bibliography using \bibliographystyle{alpha}. Consider the following three references.

[Gab72] Peter Gabriel...

[GJ09] Paul G. Goerss and John F. Jardine...

[GR92] Peter Gabriel and Andrei V. Roiter...

They are automatically being displayed in my LaTeX file in the ordering above. This is alphabetical order by the marker: [Gab72] < [GJ09] < [GR92]. Is it possible to instead have the ordering based on alphabetical ordering of the first author's last name? This would instead give the following ordering:

[Gab72] Peter Gabriel...

[GR92] Peter Gabriel and Andrei V. Roiter...

[GJ09] Paul G. Goerss and John F. Jardine...

I would prefer this latter ordering because then Peter Gabriel's references are adjacent.

  • If you're willing to use biblatex, \usepackage[sorting=nty,style=alphabetic]{biblatex} should do the trick...
    – Jonathan
    Aug 9, 2013 at 22:49
  • @Jonathan: I've tried using biblatex, but now whenever an entry has four or more authors, it suppresses all initials; e.g., I'd like to see [DEFG88] instead of [Dir+88] for a paper written by Dirac, Einstein, Fermat, and Galois; also, it doesn't work with {\relax } to treat multiple letters as one (e.g. for Hungarian authors). Can the problem above be solved within bibtex? Jul 3, 2019 at 13:48
  • @MarcoGolla Check out the maxnames option of biblatex. Also, there is the option to use unicode and even giving each entry a field to be used for sorting only. Unfortunately the biblatex documentation can be quite overwhelming, but searching for maxnames and sorting might help.
    – Jonathan
    Jul 3, 2019 at 15:07
  • The answer in tex.stackexchange.com/q/472951/35864 discusses sorting alphabetic styles and has a solution for a babalpha-based style.
    – moewe
    Jul 7, 2019 at 14:59

1 Answer 1


I guess you have only the problem with this one. The simple solution is

title = {Title Text}, 
author= {Peter Gabriel and Andrei V. Roiter...}, 
year= {2019}, 
sortkey = {Gac}, 

I'm not sure what you use so try sort, sortkey, or presort.

  • Thanks, but I would like a more systematic solution, rather than an ad hoc one. Jul 5, 2019 at 9:12
  • can you post more code? Are you using natbib biber or biblatex. A functional minimal example of code would be nice
    – protter
    Jul 5, 2019 at 13:06

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