I wonder how I can get a proper sorting of names in the bibliography.

In the following example, "von Beethoven" is at the position "v", but it should be sorted as "Beethoven" under "B".



  author = {Volkmann, Albert},
  title = {title},
  year = {2005},

  author = {von Beethoven, Ludwig},
  title = {title},
  year = {2005},

  author = {Caesar, Gaius J.},
  title = {title},
  year = {2005},


\usepackage[color, draft]{showkeys} %Einblenden der Referenznamen in den Arbeitsversionen

\usepackage[natbib=true, style=numeric-comp, backend=bibtex8, defernumbers, useprefix, maxnames=99, maxcitenames=3]{biblatex}  % f¸r bessere Literaturverzeichnisse




citeauthor: \citeauthor{vonBeethoven2005} 

Citeauthor: \Citeauthor{vonBeethoven2005}



  • You could add sortname={Beethoven} to your bib entry. But maybe there even is an automated solution?
    – matth
    Jan 3, 2012 at 16:51
  • 7
    Just to be entirely correct, the composer and pianist was Ludwig van Beethoven. Jan 3, 2012 at 17:28
  • 11
    He must be talking about a different Beethoven: the Ludwig von Beethoven, author of the famous work "title" from 2005
    – Seamus
    Jan 3, 2012 at 18:32
  • @Seamus I actually typed it into Google before realising that it was a joke. :-D (I did not read the MWE before commenting.) Jan 3, 2012 at 19:23
  • @HarroldCavendish: I know, I just needed a quick example, and my problematic real name in the bibliography contains a "von" and not a "van", but I did not want to use the real citation. Sorry for the very stupid example, but it is real "minimal" :-D Jan 3, 2012 at 20:16

3 Answers 3


Don't forget that many options in biblatex/biber are per-entry so you can just add:

OPTIONS = {useprefix=false}

to the entry. Table 2 in the Biber manual and Appendix C of the BibLaTeX manual detail which options have which scope - with Biber, many options can have global, per-entrytype or per-entry scope. This actually makes quite a few surprising things possible.


You could simply omit the useprefix option -- and this will also produce "Beethoven" instead of "von Beethoven" in citations (as it should for the sake of consistency). To sort the composer under "Beethoven" and at the same time use the prefix when citing, keep useprefix and add a sortkey field to the entry in your .bib file:

  author = {von Beethoven, Ludwig},
  sortkey= {Beethoven, Ludwig von},
  title = {title},
  year = {2005},

See also Biblatex, capitalization of arabic names and name prefixes.

  • 3
    Is it really good style to keep "von" in citations and not using it for sorting?
    – egreg
    Jan 3, 2012 at 16:56
  • 1
    The linked question about arabic names/name prefixes has taught me not to think about "style" too much when it comes to citing vs. sorting.
    – lockstep
    Jan 3, 2012 at 16:58
  • 3
    Yes, but this is a German name in a German document.
    – egreg
    Jan 3, 2012 at 17:04
  • 2
    @Werner I'm suggesting to follow the main national style, at least for local people's names. It would be annoying for a reader not finding a name in the bibliography where it belongs according to the citation.
    – egreg
    Jan 3, 2012 at 17:14
  • 3
    In general, German and Dutch standard is to have von/van in the citations but alphabetize under the following name in the biblipgrahpy (see [kaivonfintel.org/von/]). So using both userprefix and sortkey gets the right order usage pattern except for the fact that the van/von prefix is capitalized. To overcome this we can write {von} in the author field. This would solve the problem of capitalization in the bibliography, but will still get a wrong result when our cited author starts a sentence, in which case von should be capitalized!
    – Ariel
    Feb 5, 2015 at 10:32

The useprefix option just tells biblatex that "von" must be considered as part of the last name for citing and sorting.

\usepackage[natbib=true, style=numeric-comp,
  backend=bibtex8, defernumbers,
  % useprefix, % <- von is part of last name with this option
  maxnames=99, maxcitenames=3]{biblatex}

(Page 60 of the manual.)

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