I'm using mla-paper package. the name Ferdinand de Saussure in bibliography gets shown as De Saussure, Ferdinand. But I want de in lowercase like so: de Saussure, Ferdinand. In citations it gets shown as (de Saussure), which is fine, but in bibliography it gets capitalised. And is there is a way to get the bibtex display the name as: Saussure, Ferdinand de? The mla bib format doesn't accept comma in between while specifying the author name.

  • About the final sentence of your question: Not allowing a comma as part of the typeset name is a different issue from not allowing a comma as a way of telling BibTeX how to group the potential components of a name, isn't it?
    – Mico
    Oct 2 '11 at 12:30

Rather than modify your bib file, which will override formatting that may be required by other bibliography styles you should probably do this with your bibliography style. For the MLA style, the the biblatex-mla package is the best. See Biblatex and mla-paper making weird headings for how to use this with the mla-paper package.

The standard MLA format for non-capitalized name prefixes is that the appear after the first name in the bibliography; furthermore the name is alphabetized without the prefix (so de Saussure is alphabetized with S not with D.)

Saussure, Ferdinand de. Cours de linguistique générale. 1916. Payot, 1995.

The biblatex-mla package (somewhat oddly, IMO) takes the opposite route, and puts the prefix first, and alphabetizes with it with the prefix (D in this case.)

To change this behaviour, you can add the useprefix=false option to the biblatex package options. However, this will produce an in-text citation without the prefix (i.e., Saussure instead of de Saussure). The way biblatex is set up, there is no direct way to use the prefix in citations without it also affecting the sorting and bibliography formatting. But leaving the prefix out in citations is acceptable, and in many cases the proper way to refer to a name in a citation.

Update However, based on the answers to this question: how to modify the biblatex 'useprefix' option it's easy to get exactly what you want. Here's a complete solution:

\defbibheading{bibliography}{\newpage\centering Works Cited}
% The following code is to make the example self-contained
    Author = {Ferdinand de Saussure},
    Origyear = {1916},
    Publisher = {Payot},
    Title = {Cours de Linguistique G{\'e}n{\'e}rale},
    Year = {1995}}
\addbibresource{\jobname} % use your actual bib file name in a real document
\begin{mla}{First Name}{Last Name}{Professor}{Paper Title}{\today}{\ }
The relation between the the sign and the signified is arbitrary \autocite{Saussure1995}.

bib output


For the components of the name field, BibTeX distinguishes between "lastname", "von" part, and "firstname(s)". (Well, there's also the "junior" part, but that's not relevant here.) I assume you've entered the author's name in your bib file as

name = "Ferdinand de Saussure", 

leading BibTeX to recognize the three components. Now, your citation style probably requires sorting on the von-part, and therefore it is not advisable to redefine this field as

name = "Saussure, Ferdinand de",

which would make BibTeX treat "de" as a second firstname and thus lead to citations such as (Saussure), which is probably not correct. Better to define the name field as

name = "Ferdinand {\lowercase{d}e} Saussure"

This will let BibteX properly parse the name's components while forcing the "d" in "de" to be typeset in lowercase.

If the "de" is not a "von" part at all but instead a component of lastname, it's best to set up the name field accordingly, i.e., as

name = "de Saussure, Ferdinand",

in which case BibTeX will think that the name has exactly 2 components (lastname, firstname).

A great resource and reference for various tricks and magic with BibTeX is the document Tame the BeaST. For a discussion of how to manipulate the name field, see esp. section 11, starting on p. 23. It's an amazingly readable and intelligible document. Really!

  • 1
    Shouldn't it be \MakeLowercase?
    – egreg
    Oct 2 '11 at 12:27
  • Not according to "Tame the Beast"... But it can't hurt either, I'd say. :-)
    – Mico
    Oct 2 '11 at 12:34
  • 1
    It will, because \makelowercase is not defined. It should be \lowercase or \MakeLowercase.
    – egreg
    Oct 2 '11 at 12:52
  • Good catch! A case of not enough coffee in the morning... I've changed the command to \lowercase.
    – Mico
    Oct 2 '11 at 13:02
  • That's because I've already had my lunch. :)
    – egreg
    Oct 2 '11 at 13:04

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