I want to use a smaller font size for the bibliography, e.g., \footnotesize. What is the easiest way to achieve this? I currently do \renewenvironment{thebibliography}... and copy the definition from report.cls but with the \footnotesize inserted in. However, that seems to be a bit of a hack, so I'm looking for a cleaner way.

  • I think your current method is the cleanest. If you find yourself doing this a lot, you might consider moving it from your document's preamble to a personal style (.sty) file.
    – godbyk
    Jul 27, 2010 at 17:05
  • the ams document classes define \bibliofont for this purpose. it's worth checking the document class you are using before redefining thebibliography, but if a suitable command isn't available, your method is appropriate. Apr 29, 2012 at 11:12
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    @WaldirLeoncio While I can see that there is a overlap between the two questions, I would not close this question here as a duplicate of the one you linked to. If at all I would do it the other way round. The question here has answers for all bibliography packages. The question you linked to is specific to biblatex. Plus the question here has more views, votes, and is older.
    – moewe
    Jun 15, 2017 at 13:04
  • @moewe, sounds fair, I agree with you. Jun 15, 2017 at 14:04

4 Answers 4


First I have to say that you should avoid fiddling with font sizes in order to squish more text into a document. Conferences and journals often discourage such formatting hacks; some might even reject papers found to be doing this.

Anyway, if you still need to to this for whatever reason, the easiest way I found is to write something like

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    I thought this would also change the font size of the "References" heading, but to my surprise it doesn't. Nice! Jul 28, 2010 at 9:41
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    I wouldn't consider bibliographies typeset in a smaller size as a formatting hack - I've seen it quite often in professionally typeset books.
    – lockstep
    Aug 9, 2010 at 22:49
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    @JitseNiesen: Unfortunately it changed size of the heading in my case.
    – nimcap
    Dec 21, 2011 at 17:33
  • @nimcap, which packages are you using? if you cannot solve your problem, you might try to ask a new question. Dec 22, 2011 at 16:53
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    This does not work with \fontsize{5cm}{5.5cm}. Only part of the bibliography takes the new size formatting... :/
    – Atcold
    May 27, 2016 at 20:04

Using the biblatex package you could also write


(Personally I'd use \small instead of \footnotesize.)

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    seems that it does not work with \footcite?
    – pluton
    Aug 29, 2011 at 22:59
  • This will lose the process of lowercasing letters of reference titles...
    – xuhdev
    Mar 26, 2016 at 2:36
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    To mirror the exact definition of biblatex.def I would use \renewcommand*{\bibfont}{\normalfont\footnotesize}.
    – moewe
    Jun 15, 2017 at 13:06
  • In Rmarkdown, the following worked for me: \renewcommand\bibliographytypesize{\small}.
    – M M
    Oct 23, 2020 at 11:46

And if you use the natbib package:

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    This way looks the most elegant for me, thanks
    – yegor256
    Nov 1, 2010 at 15:27
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    If you are having problems with getting itshapes, you can use \renewcommand{\bibfont}{\normalfont\small} Apr 29, 2012 at 8:24
  • should this be now a \renewcommand ? it did not work for me.
    – user855443
    Jun 9, 2018 at 14:51

Using beamer+biblatex you could also write

\frame[shrink=50] {\printbibliography} 

And using beamer+bibtex you could write accordingly

\frame[shrink=50] {\bibliography{bibfile}} 
  • @Exocom how do we use shrink with allowframebreaks Jan 5, 2017 at 15:39
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    \begin{frame}[allowframebreaks, shrink=60] \bibliography{bibfile} \bibliographystyle{style} \end{frame}
    – pyaj
    Jul 6, 2021 at 14:38
  • Very useful for beamer, where for me, \footnotesize wasn't doing anything. Also, a thing to note, higher the number given to shrink, higher it shrinks. So, a value of 20 does not mean it shrinks "to" 20% but "by" 20%.
    – Hrishikesh
    Jan 12, 2022 at 5:56

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