I use the alpha style with bibtex to create my bibliographies. This normally works great, but I'm encountering a problem with the keys created automatically when certain accents are involved. I'm trying to cite a paper from 2008 by Gerard Ben Arous and Jiří Černý. However, the key created by bibtex is [Bv08] instead of [BČ08]. This seems to be because the way to do the accent on the C at the beginning of his name is with \v{C} and so for some reason bibtex picks up the v as the first letter of his last name.

I've noticed a couple of curious things in trying to find a way to fix this. - If I get rid of the first author (Ben Arous) then bibtex correctly compiles the key as [Č08]. - If I change the accent on the second author's name to be \'{C} then bibtex correctly compiles the key as [BĆ08] - I tried entering the accented 'Č' directly into the .bib file, but then bibtex compiled the key as [B08] (completely ignoring the second author's last name).

I've searched this cite for ways to override the automatic key creation, but none of those seem to be what I'm looking for since it seems those methods would create a fixed key that I don't think would interact how I want it to when the bibliography is created. In particular, if I have I add another paper by the same two authors from the same year, bibtex should be able to automatically cite them as [BČ08a] and [BČ08b].

  • 3
    – egreg
    Oct 7, 2013 at 13:44
  • Thanks, that worked. I thought that was one of the things I tried before, but I guess I must have done it wrong the first time I tried. Oct 7, 2013 at 13:48
  • This is treated in the manual of BibTeX.
    – egreg
    Oct 7, 2013 at 13:52
  • @egreg Make an answer?
    – Joseph Wright
    Nov 2, 2013 at 21:26

1 Answer 1


The right way to input such a name is (unfortunately)


as the manual of BibTeX explains. See texdoc tamethebeast for other tricks.

BibTeX was born when Unicode wasn't even in mente Dei. You'd be probably better served by biblatex and Biber that were created when Unicode was already up and running.

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