I have a little bit of a problem with the numbering of my citation call-outs. I have 3 bibliographic references, and the first thing to get cited gets the number [3] assigned instead of [1].

Can anybody explain why the numbering is off?

My .tex file:


\section{This is a section}
\cite{wen2016designing} did something but then 
\cite{binetti2014distributed} did something else.

This is very interesting \cite{dimoulkas2014constructing}.

But the ordering ends up being all wrong.


My .bib file (mybib.bib):

  title        = "A distributed auction-based algorithm for the
                  nonconvex economic dispatch problem",
  author       = "Binetti, Giulio and Davoudi, Ali and Naso, David
                  and Turchiano, Biagio and Lewis, Frank L.",
  journal      = "IEEE Transactions on Industrial Informatics",
  volume       = 10,
  number       = 2,
  pages        = "1124--1132",
  year         = 2014,
  publisher    = "IEEE",
  title        = "Designing adaptive consensus-based scheme for
                  economic dispatch of smart grid",
  author       = "Wen, Guanghui and Yu, Wenwu and Yu, Xinghuo and
                  Cao, Jinde",
  booktitle    = "Advanced Computational Intelligence (ICACI), 2016
                  Eighth International Conference on",
  pages        = "236--241",
  year         = 2016,
  organization = "IEEE",
  title        = "Constructing bidding curves for a {CHP} producer
                  in day-ahead electricity markets",
  author       = "Dimoulkas, Ilias and Amelin, Mikael",
  booktitle    = "Energy Conference (ENERGYCON), 2014 IEEE
  pages        = "487--494",
  year         = 2014,
  organization = "IEEE",
  • I assume, the order of your items in the bibliography is alphabetically. Wen et al is the last entry, therefore the reference is shown as the number [3].
    – Lupino
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 10:40
  • 3
    You can use \bibliographystyle{unsrt}` instead of abbrv to get references in the order of citing.
    – Marijn
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 10:49
  • It'll be harder for readers to find a source in your paper because you don't sort alphabetically. I wouldn't do it this way. This comment is also for future readers; not meant as a criticism of you Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 2:04

1 Answer 1


You asked,

Can anybody explain why the numbering is off?

You currently employ the abbrv bibliography style, which is programmed to sort all bibliographic entries alphabetically by the surnames of the authors of the publications you cite (and, secondarily, by the publication year). The three bib entries you've posted will thus get sorted as [1] Binetti before [2] Dimoulkas before [3] Wen. Whether or not the citation call-out to Wen's publication occurs early or late in the body of your document, it'll get assigned the number [3].

However, you evidently prefer to have the citation call-outs be numbered purely consecutively, i.e., by the order they first occur in the body of the document. You should therefore switch to the unsrt bibliography style, i.e., change the instruction \bibliographystyle{abbrv} to \bibliographystyle{unsrt}. Then, rerun LaTeX, BibTeX, and LaTeX twice more to fully propagate all changes. You'll find that, now, [1] Wen occurs before [2] Binetti and [3] Dimoulkas.


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