Is there a standard way of indicating co-first authorships in a BibTeX entry?

Equal-contribution is usually indicated by * (or some other symbol) next to the author names in the paper, but it is a rather recent phenomenon as I understand it.

I never actually saw it indicated in the reference sections when cited, but it is a valuable meta-data that might be useful for the future. Hence, I want to put it in the BibTeX meta data. I can imagine a new bibliography format showing co-first authors in the reference (but this is not likely to happen though).

  • 5
    I'd be a bit wary about 'usually' here. In my area (chemistry) a star (or several stars) indicates the 'author to whom correspondence should be addressed', i.e. the lead author(s).
    – Joseph Wright
    Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 5:53
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    biblatex offers the field authortype, one might be able to expand this to the host of possibilities one has with editor[a|b|c] and editor[a|b|c]type.
    – moewe
    Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 17:37
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    More importantly (in my field), shared first author papers are referred to differently: Instead of referencing a paper as “Foo et al.”, it should be referenced as “Foo, Bar et al.”. Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 14:05
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    Does this answer your question? Indicating joint first authorship through special markup in biblatex/biber Commented Dec 18, 2022 at 2:18
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    @helmingstay -- The question you cite uses biblatex for its answer. The present question asks about bibtex. Commented Dec 18, 2022 at 6:00

2 Answers 2


There is no 'standard' way of indicating this information in a .bib file. Moreover, it probably would be difficult to include it in the author field without breaking standard styles/sorting/... As such, if adding this information I would use a custom field (the BibTeX format allows for this as all non-recognised fields are ignored).


Quick solution that may work for you: keep things together with parentheses.

author={{Foo, Bar} and third_author and fourth_author},
  • 5
    How do you propose to tell BibTeX about the first names of the authors?
    – user10274
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 1:16

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