This is possibly a very obscure problem. I tried searching for solutions but I had a hard time getting search engines to accept a literal ", &" string.

The problem is basically this. I'm using natbib with round and authoryear options. I'm using the citation style of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (mn2e.bst), which says the first reference to a three-author paper must display all three names in full on the first citation and "et al." thereafter. So, if I make two citations to a paper by Smith, Jones and Parker, the first citation should be "Smith, Jones & Parker (2012)" and the second should be "Smith et al. (2012)".

This means the first citation should use the citet*. But then the output is

Smith, Jones, & Parker (2012)

which is just plain wrong. My sysadmins are allergic to updating (I'm on RHEL 5, writing this in FF3.6...) so I've got an old version of natbib. I tried playing with the punctuation with \bibpunct but I couldn't remove the correct comma. I realise this is basically the same as the standard formats (e.g. plainnat) writing "and" instead of "&" so I guess I'm asking how to remove that Oxford comma.

As required, here's a minimal example.




   author = {{Smith}, A. and {Jones}, B. and {Parker}, C.},
    title = "{A paper title}",
  journal = {Journal of Amazing Science},
 keywords = {natbib},
     year = 2012,
    month = feb,
   volume = 314,
    pages = {159}
  • It is rather difficult to debug an old version which is not present on current system. I don't get the comma with a recent natbib and the mn2e.bst (version 1.1b) from CTAN. But as far as I can see it is not possible to insert such a comma through natbib. It is mn2e.bst which decide if it is present. So you should try to update the bst. (Regardless how allergic to updating your sysadmin is: you must have a local texmf tree where you can put newer versions of packages.) Feb 13, 2012 at 14:45
  • 1
    D'oh! It's my fault. I'm using a modified version of mn2e.bst that eliminates the too-many-author problem. The standard version of mn2e.bst doesn't have this issue. I guess this can be closed as it doesn't really involve standard TeX packages.
    – Warrick
    Feb 13, 2012 at 17:06


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