I have implemented the Harvard citation style using Biblatex and Biber as described here. This seems to work fine. However, I have now a problem with the line break of long author names, as shown in the figure below:

Line break for long author name not working

A similar problem has been described with long URLs here, whereby this problem could have been solved by increasing a certain penalty value.

Consequently, I tried to increase the following penalties as well without success:

  • highnamepenalty
  • lownamepenalty

Note that that this problem does not occur when I have no tilde (~) in front of the citep-command. However, this is not really a good workaround from my point of view.

A minimal working example can be found below

    author = {Fillingham, David},
    journal = {MIT},
    title = {{A Comparison of Digital and Handwritten Signatures}},
    url = {http://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/classes/6.805/student-papers/fall97-papers/fillingham-sig.html},
    year = {1997}






Since the fourth century \textit{signatures} are omnipresent in our everyday and business life~\citep{Fillingham1997}. They are broadly used to authenticate the identity of a person as well as to act as a sign of agreement toward third parties.
  • 1
    So you want it to break before 'life' even though the inter-word spaces will be overly large in that case? That's the penalty you'd need to consider, I think.
    – cfr
    Jan 22, 2015 at 2:33
  • What is «the problem» you want to solve?
    – Ludenticus
    Jan 22, 2015 at 4:12
  • Sorry the screenshot was maybe a bit misleading, so I have changed it now. As you can see, is the problem that the author name itself is not broken correctly or more precisely "too" late. And as already mentioned before this only happens when the author name is long. Jan 22, 2015 at 7:56
  • If you want LaTeX to break Fillingham earlier, you can specify hyphenation with \DefineHyphenationExceptions{british}{Fil-ling-ham} (for instance). Jan 22, 2015 at 8:21
  • Thank you, this seem to work. However, I would like to have a more generic solution that is capable of doing the break itself. Jan 22, 2015 at 9:07

1 Answer 1


I believe you have two options to avoid the overfull line.

  1. Don't make the space before \citep{Fillingham1997} unbreakable, i.e., replace ~ with a plain space, . This will result in the complete string "(Fillingham, 1997)" showing up at the start of the following line.

    Making the space immediately before the citation callout unbreakable is useful if a numerical citation style is employed. In contrast, I do not think the practice is useful if authoryear-style citation callouts are used.

  2. Add the instruction


    to the preamble, after loading babel. Doing so will let LaTeX hyphenate the word after Fill as well as between Filling and ham. (The US-English hyphenation patterns allow "Fill-ing-ham", whereas the UK-English patterns only allow "Filling-ham".)

  • 1
    The use of US-English rather than UK-English seems to be most convenient way to solve this problem in my case. Especially, as I have no special regulations how to hyphenate words. Jan 22, 2015 at 10:50
  • 1
    @MichaelStauffer But then you should be careful. Writing in British English while using hyphenation for American English can look weird and lead to (strictly speaking) typographical mistakes. Jan 22, 2015 at 12:54
  • @MichaelStauffer -- regardless of british vs. u.s. english, "Fillingham" is a name, not likely to occur as an ordinary word. when in doubt, try to hyphenate a name as that person would do it for him/herself. in this case, i'd go with "Fill-ing-ham" unless some reputable authority can demonstrate otherwise. Jan 22, 2015 at 13:55

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