I am using LyX and BibTeX for my bibliography. I would like the following setup for my citations:

  1. In the text a cite should have a comma between the last author name and year (LAST_NAME, YEAR).
  2. Every time four or more authors are on a paper I want the first use to spell out each author and then use et al. All authors should be listed if the total number of authors is less than or equal to 3
  3. In the bibliography it should follow the format LAST_NAME, FIRST_INITIAL. for the first author and FIRST_INITIAL. LAST_NAME for subsequent authors.

I am using natbib with the style author-year and have tried using a lot of different threads to fix this issue. A few hours later, I thought it would be easier to ask.

  • 1
    Which bibliography style do you use at the moment? Have you considered using the abbrvnat style?
    – Mico
    Aug 21, 2014 at 21:41
  • @Mico I am using natbib, but am open to suggestions to get me to my desired output
    – Chris J
    Aug 21, 2014 at 22:00
  • 1
    It should be relatively easy to do with biblatex (which has a natbib emulation mode).
    – Bernard
    Aug 21, 2014 at 22:51
  • @Bernard How so in LyX?
    – Chris J
    Aug 21, 2014 at 23:06
  • 1
    There is a little bit of work required for biblatex in LyX, see tex.stackexchange.com/questions/146159/… When Mico asks for bibliographystyle, i meant the style you can choose in the dialog that pops up when you do Insert --> ToC/List --> BibTeX bibliography. Aug 22, 2014 at 6:31

1 Answer 1


I'll address your objectives sequentially:

  • To get the desired citation style -- author(s) and year separated by comma, parentheses placed around the entire citation block -- you should

    • use the citation command \citep to generate the citation callouts, and

    • load the natbib package with the options comma and authoryear.

  • To list all authors the first time a piece is cited, regardless of the number of authors, load the natbib package with the option longnamesfirst.

    The two preceding suggestions can be combined, i.e., you could load the natbib package as follows:

  • In order never to truncate the list authors to "FirstAuth et al" in the citation callout if the piece has three or fewer authors, you will need to edit the bibliography style file a bit. For step by step instructions on how to modify the style file, have a look at my answer to the posting Citation "et al." only for four and more authors with natbib and jf.bst. That posting applies not only to the jf style, but to many others as well. (Unfortunately you haven't indicated which style you would like to use, so I can't be more specific.)

  • To abbreviate authors' first and middle names, you will need to select an appropriate style file. I suggest you take a look at the style abbrvnat.bst and decide if its overall style works for you. If it does, you should find it straightforward to modify that file along the lines suggested in the previous bullet point to change the citation truncation scheme.

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