In a work I am typesetting, the author cites a Physical Review A paper. [Specifically, this one: http://journals.aps.org/pra/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevA.86.013612 .]

Not only does this journal renew pagination with each article, it prefixes the article number with each page: e.g., the above article goes from page 013612-1 to page 013612-5.

I have attempted to use biblatex's pagination field with a custom entry to prefix the article number, but this method only works for inline citations, and doesn't repeat the prefix for a multi-page citation; moreover, in this work, I really only need page numbers for the reference list.

How can I prefix the article number to the page number in the reference list (for this reference only)?

MWE -- .bib file

   title = {Model of a $\mathcal{PT}$-symmetric Bose-Einstein condensate in a $\delta${}-function double-well potential},
  author = {Cartarius, Holger and Wunner, G\"unter},
journaltitle = {Physical Review A},
    date = {2012-07-09},
  volume = {86},
  number = {1},
   pages = {1-5},
pagination = {jnum1},
    misc = {013612},
publisher = {American Physical Society},
     doi = {10.1103/PhysRevA.86.013612},
     url = {http://link.aps.org/doi/10.1103/PhysRevA.86.013612},

MWE -- .tex file

jnum1 = {013612--},
jnum1s = {013612--},

Something else. See \cite[1--3]{cart1}.

Note: The obvious question is, "Do you really need to do this?" This will eventually depend on the publisher, but for the arXiv version I would prefer to match the original text [unless I am violating some cardinal rule].

Edit: The above code produces the following output:

original output

As you see, the default is to include the pages field in the end-of-paper reference list.

  • IMHO, you do not need to cite the particular page of an article. They're usually short enough that people can find what you're talking about in the article without a specific page number. Therefore, for articles, the citation is all about helping other people find the work that you cite, for which, the most important thing is the paper number in this case, and I don't think you should worry about the internal pages. A book is obviously completely different, but they also have different reference styles that make sense for a book.
    – darthbith
    May 30, 2014 at 20:32
  • @darthbith That would certainly be unacceptable in my field. A direct quotation would need a specific page. But, also, the entry in the list of references would have to include the page range. However, there are some cases where this doesn't make sense. For example, advance access but there it is really because the final pagination is not yet known. @user527733 Could you not just include the prefix in the pages field?
    – cfr
    May 30, 2014 at 22:19
  • @cfr Interesting, I've never seen an specific pages from an article referenced, always just the whole work. Guess every field is different :-) In this case though, the page range for the list of references would just indicate the length of the paper, which doesn't seem to aid in finding the paper in the journal... For instance, for the article cited above, the search feature on the AIP website just needs the article number (i.e. the prefix), not the prefix + the page range.
    – darthbith
    May 31, 2014 at 0:12
  • 1
    @darthbith I tend to agree. I think this is close to the advance access case i.e. the page numbers have no real meaning except for citations within the paper. But since the OP said that didn't apply, that's not a problem. But I can't see why the prefix can't be included in the pages field if for some reason the OP does want to include this information.
    – cfr
    May 31, 2014 at 0:49
  • I think it would certainly be acceptable to just cite page 1 or 4, instead of 013612-1 or 013612-4 - especially since the "mapping" between the two is clear. For your solution to work you need bookpagination = {jnum1}, as well as pagination = {jnum1}, in the bib file. But of course that becomes unpracticable if you have more of these articles flying around, you would have to create a new bibstring for each, that should be done automatically.
    – moewe
    May 31, 2014 at 7:08

1 Answer 1


I don't see any reason why not to use the BibTeX citation generated by the journal:

  title = {Model of a PT-symmetric Bose-Einstein condensate in a $\delta${}-function double-well potential},
  author = {Cartarius, Holger and Wunner, G\"unter},
  journal = {Phys. Rev. A},
  volume = {86},
  issue = {1},
  pages = {013612},
  numpages = {5},
  year = {2012},
  month = {Jul},
  publisher = {American Physical Society},
  doi = {10.1103/PhysRevA.86.013612},
  url = {http://link.aps.org/doi/10.1103/PhysRevA.86.013612}

The fact that the page number is prefixed by the article number doesn't change the fact that the article's page numbers are 1--5. Therefore \cite[pp.~1--3]{PhysRevA.86.013612} is entirely correct.

Erratum. There is a reason why not to use the given format directly -- the title is improprely capitalized:

  title = {Model of a {PT}-symmetric {Bose-Einstein} condensate in a $\delta${}-function double-well potential},
  • I absolutely agree, I would suggest \cite[1--3]{PhysRevA.86.013612} though, as biblatex is perfectly able to add the page prefix itself.
    – moewe
    Jun 2, 2014 at 18:49
  • @moewe OTOH, usage of pagination prefix can become a burden if you use \cite[Theorem~3.5]{A} at one place, \cite[§~5]{B} at another place and \cite[pp.~1--3]{C} at yet another place.
    – yo'
    Jun 2, 2014 at 19:05
  • You are certainly right, though I feel that this is one of the strong points of this system: One can just specify the pagination "style" (on an entry-type basis) and does not need to bother with these types any more.
    – moewe
    Jun 2, 2014 at 19:22
  • @moewe Not all automation is good. I can't imagine I set up a style seperately for each entry just because I happen to have 10 different things I cite from different sources.
    – yo'
    Jun 2, 2014 at 19:25
  • Not sure what the problem is. If you use the prefix for pagination as default \cite[1--3]{...} will add the prefix but \cite[Theorem~3.5]{...} will not. It'll only add the prefix if the content of the argument meets certain criteria.
    – cfr
    Jun 2, 2014 at 20:46

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