I use the natbib package (with the default authoryear option) and the apalike bibliography style for bibliographies.

I would like to cite a forthcoming paper in such a way that "forthcoming" or "to appear" is used in place of a year of publication -- both in inline citations and in the bibliography.

If I use the following bibtex entry...

@Unpublished{ key,
   author="F. Lastname", 
   year="to appear", 
   note="Manuscript under submision" }

...then \citep{key} expands to (Lastname pear) rather than the desired (Lastname to appear). Similarly, if I use "forthcoming" in the year field, \citep{key} expands to (Lastname ming). It appears that the year field is being truncated to its last four characters.

Is there a workaround for this?

2 Answers 2


I should note that although this sort of citation is common, it's not very good practice: the article you are citing does have a year, namely the year of the draft you read, and should be cited with that year, and a note saying that it is to appear. See Which publication type for forthcoming papers in BibTeX? for some ideas on how best to implement this.

That being said, it's not that difficult to modify the bibliography style to allow this kind of year.

This truncation is a property of how the apalike.bst style is set up. Make a copy of apalike.bst and make the following modification to it. Save it as myapalike.bst in your local texmf folder. It should go in <path/to/local>/texmf/bibtex/bst (where the path is dependent on your OS). Then use \bibliographystyle{myapaplike} in your document.

Find the FUNCTION calc.label: it should look like the following:

FUNCTION {calc.label}
{ type$ "book" =
  type$ "inbook" =
    { type$ "proceedings" =
        'editor.key.label                       % apalike ignores organization
        'author.key.label                       % for labeling and sorting
  ", "                                                  % these three lines are
  *                                                     % for apalike, which
  year field.or.null purify$ #-1 #4 substring$          % uses all four digits
  'label :=

Change the line

year field.or.null purify$ #-1 #4 substring$          % uses all four digits

to be:

year field.or.null purify$ #-1 #64 substring$          % allow many characters
  • It may not be "good practice," but FWIW it's standard practice in my field. Thanks for the help. Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 19:54
  • I agree, (we're in the same field). The comment wasn't meant to be a criticism of you.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 19:57
  • 2
    You might want to try the unified.bst available here which allows this sort of citation, and is being adopted by the LSA and some other linguistics journals.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 20:03
  • btw, does somebody know how to escape purify$. i've tried removing it, but then citation year doesn't appear at all. thanks.
    – varun
    Commented Mar 23, 2012 at 14:10
  • 1
    @varun What do you mean by "escape purify$"?
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Mar 23, 2012 at 16:12

Another possibility, although not completely satisfactory, would be to make use of the \citeauthor command and manually enter "(forthcoming)" in the body of text:

\citeauthor{key} (forthcoming)

Since one rarely cites forthcoming papers (hopefully), this solution might not be that much of a hassle.

  • 1
    This was the most helpful answer and works best in a pinch.
    – invictus
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 13:06
  • This is a little dangerous: when the cited work is published and you update the bibtex, the reference won't update. When I use the solution proposed here (e.g. because I'm dealing with publisher files that I cannot modify), I leave a comment in the bibtex that I have done this, as a reminder to check the references after updating the bibtex.
    – Keelan
    Commented Sep 19, 2023 at 19:57

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