This might be a little far fetched for this site, if it's inappropriate, close it, but please direct me to where I could ask this question.

My bibliography is growing quite huge and the time has come for me to standardize it. Most of the papers in it are from conference proceedings and I was wondering what is the best way to cite them?

For example, let's look at a conference called 'ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology', which when has to be abbreviated becomes UIST. I have a paper from the 9th instance of this conference, in the conference field of my bibtex, what should I write?

Proceedings of the 9th annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology ?

  • Should I write Proceedings as Proc.?
  • Should I abbreviate the conference name? (Proceedings of the 9th annual ACM Symposium on UIST)
  • Should I chop the Proceedings of the 9th annual? (ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology)
  • How bout this? ACM UIST'96

Is it just a question of aesthetics?

Edit: Fixed the UIST'09 to become the proper year number, UIST'96.

  • 9
    Yes. It is just a question of aesthetics; the proper citation name for the conference name etc. should follow whatever arbitrary rules that you, or the journal you submit to, chose to follow. If it is a paper to be submitted to a journal, I suggest just leaving it as verbose as possible. It is always easier for the editors to see the complete name and chop it down to house style abbreviation, than for them to backronym your abbreviated conference name. Commented Oct 23, 2010 at 15:32

3 Answers 3


I have done the following (ok, this is just a simplified version of it...):

  • I have a "database" that contains the details of the conferences in a machine-readable form. It contains information like the abbreviation, the full name of the conference, an almost-full name (with some irrelevant things like "Annual International" removed), location, month, year, publisher of the proceedings, and details such as LNCS volume number if the book was published in Springer's LNCS series.

  • Then I have a Python script that reads the database and outputs several Bibtex files: long.bib, medium.bib, short.bib. These contain Bibtex entries for conference proceedings, with different amounts of details. For example, long.bib might contain details like

      title = {Proc.\ 23rd International Symposium on Distributed Computing
          (DISC, Elche, Spain, September 2009)},
      booktitle = {Proc.\ 23rd International Symposium on Distributed Computing
          (DISC, Elche, Spain, September 2009)},
      volume = 5805,
      series = {Lecture Notes in Computer Science},
      publisher = {Springer},
      address = {Berlin, Germany},
      year = {2009}

    while short.bib might contain just

      title = {Proc.\ 23rd Symposium on Distributed Computing (DISC 2009)},
      booktitle = {Proc.\ 23rd Symposium on Distributed Computing (DISC 2009)},
      volume = 5805,
      series = {LNCS},
      publisher = {Springer},
      year = {2009}

    Once again, all this is machine-generated.

  • In my Bibtex database (articles.bib) I have crossreferences to conference proceedings. All details come from long.bib/medium.bib/short.bib.

      author = {...},
      title = {...},
      pages = {...},
      crossref = {proc-disc-2009},
      doi = {...},
  • I can easily change the amount of detail by choosing one of the following in any paper that I am writing:


    And if I ever wanted to switch from "Proc. ..." to "Proceedings of ...", I only need to change it in one place.

  • Of course I'll have to run bibtex -min-crossrefs=999 so that I don't have any crossreferences in the Bibtex output...

Works fine until you have to explain all this to your coauthors. :)

By the way, you can use bib2bib from the bibtex2html package to "flatten" the bibliography. Then you will have just one Bibtex file, less confusion with coauthors, no crossreferences, and no need to specify -min-crossrefs. I have a script that does something along these lines:

for a in short medium long; do
    bib2bib \
        -oc /dev/null \
        --remove abstract \
        --remove bibitemlabel \
        --remove comment \
        --remove file \
        --remove keywords \
        --remove owner \
        --remove review \
        --remove timestamp \
        --no-comment \
        --expand \
        --expand-xrefs \
        -s '$key' \
        -c 'not ($type = "proceedings" and $key : "^proc-")' \
        "articles.bib" "$a.bib" |
    perl -p0 -e '
        s/\n  address = \{\},//g;
    ' > "flat/$a.bib"
  • 3
    Very good point about having to explain -min-crossrefs to your coauthors who then forget and submit the paper having neglected to do that. =/
    – TH.
    Commented Oct 23, 2010 at 18:26
  • Can't some of this be done by just setting biblatex options?
    – Simd
    Commented May 20, 2011 at 10:41
  • 1
    If this is the 'short' version of your setup, I would be very interested in reading a blog post or similar about the full version! Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 15:33
  • @Raphael I think the entry proceedings or conference in biblatex does this.
    – zyy
    Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 3:12

I'd probably cite that as Proceedings of UIST 1996. ACM Press, Nov. 1996.

UIST09 would not be right at all since the 9th UIST was not in 2009.

But as Willie Wong points out, just follow whatever arbitrary rules you want. For example, I'd list the general chairs, David Kurlander, Marc Brown, and Ramana Rao, as the editors. A complete citation might look like,

M. Spenke, C. Beilken, and T. Berlage, FOCUS: the interactive table for product comparison and selection. In D. Kurlander, M. Brown, and R. Rao, eds., Proceedings of UIST 1996, pages 41–50. ACM Press, Nov. 1996.

    author = {Michael Spenke and Christian Beilken and Thomas Berlage},
    title = {{FOCUS}: the interactive table for product comparison and selection},
    booktitle = {Proceedings of UIST 1996},
    month = nov,
    year = 1996,
    publisher = {ACM Press},
    editor = {David Kurlander and Marc Brown and Ramana Rao},
    pages = {41-50},

Knuth advocates spelling out the entire name of conferences and journals (in Mathematical Writing, I believe), but I think this is a good compromise given space limitations of conferences. I guess Proc. UIST 1996 would be shorter but that seems stilted to me.


Is it just a question of aesthetics?

No, unfortunately. Chicago (17.160) has the nice guidance "it is never incorrect to spell out all journal titles" but with the rather deflating caveat "[e]xcept for ... journals [that] prescribe their own style." And there are many journals that do want shortened journal titles; some, like Science, have very stringent title shortening policies. So "one Bibtex entry fits all" doesn't work.

Jukka's solution can work well, but if you go the route of trying to have a different set of bib files for every contingency, they can multiply a lot and be hard to maintain. Instead I recommend (i) having long journal titles in your .bib file, (ii) working with that when writing the article draft, (iii) switching to cutting and pasting the .bbl file into the main text when you think the reflist is complete, and (iv) then paring that down if the publication venue wants you to.

I recommend as the long form, "In Proceedings, 9th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST '09), pp...", which reads naturally, includes both the ordinal and date names of the conferences series, but doesn't feel too verbose. As a rule, computer science reflists are rather inconsistently edited: I guess that the majority of article in conference proceedings have some inconsistencies in the way they cite articles for reasons such as these. Medicine is much better...

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