I want to reference

[Was97] L. Washington, Introduction to cyclotomic fields, Springer, New York, 1997.

in my text. However, using Bibdesk, it autogenerates Was97 for me. How may I change that to [W97] or in fact, to anything else?

  • 1
    Bibdesk just provides you the bib-file. You have to change the style of your bibliography (alpha might be what you need). Do you use biber or bibtex?
    – Hackbard_C
    Aug 7, 2014 at 10:04
  • Now I'm confused. I don't seem to be using either? I received a list of publications from my supervisor in a file with .bib and then imported in straight into Bibdesk.
    – Haikal Yeo
    Aug 7, 2014 at 10:20
  • 1
    But in the end you want to create a LaTeX document, where you link these references? If so, please prodive a minimal working example (MWE), so I can see what you are using.
    – Hackbard_C
    Aug 7, 2014 at 10:34
  • I get it now. I'm using bibtext: @book{washington, Address = {New York}, Author = {Washington, L.}, Date-Modified = {2014-08-07 10:39:32 +0000}, Publisher = {Springer}, Title = {Introduction to cyclotomic fields}, Year = {1997}} Why not write an answer so that I can accept it?
    – Haikal Yeo
    Aug 7, 2014 at 10:42

2 Answers 2


The code you provided is your bib-File, but I assume, that you are using bibtex as told.

      Address = {New York},
        Author = {Washington, L.},
        Publisher = {Springer},
        Title = {Introduction to cyclotomic fields},
        Year = {1997},
\bibliographystyle{alpha} % change this style

You might want to have a look e.g. here to see examples of the different styles.

If you want your references like [W97] this link might be worth looking at.


If you really want to shorten the citation callouts, you should switch from your current bibliography style -- likely alpha -- to a numeric citation style.

To make the switch, you have to locate the \bibliographystyle instruction in your tex file. I'm guessing it currently says


Change this to either \bibliographystyle{plainnat} or \bibliographystyle{unsrtnat}, and rerun LaTeX, BibTeX, and LaTeX twice more to fully propagate the changes. You will then get citation callouts, e.g, [1], [2], etc.

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