I found a bunch of threads with similar problems, but I didn't manage to solve mine, because slightly different. I would like to have the bibliography shown as:

Doniger, W.. Splitting the Difference. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Instead, I have:

W. Doniger, Splitting the Difference. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

my code is:


Basically I only need to invert the first name and the last name without changing anything else, because it is already in alphabetical order and with the citation style that I need. I use an online version of latex, so I don't know if I can change the packages (and I don't know how to do it). Any idea?

  • 1
    Most of the code you have shown is standard BibTeX/natbib, but you also call \printbibliography, which is only defined by biblatex. This should get an error message (if you are using Overleaf, see tex.meta.stackexchange.com/q/7898/35864). You probably should drop the call to \printbibliography with this setup.
    – moewe
    Jun 25, 2019 at 18:31
  • That said, the name format is defined by your bibliography style (abbrvnat), if you want to change that, you need to modify the bibliography style or change the style.
    – moewe
    Jun 25, 2019 at 18:36
  • Thanks @moewe, it works even without the \printbibliography, but I did not understand how to modify the names order. Could you please give an example or a reference link?
    – hydra
    Jun 25, 2019 at 21:32
  • I've taken the liberty of deleting the biblatex and citing tags.
    – Mico
    Jun 25, 2019 at 22:16

1 Answer 1


I suggest you proceed as follows.

  • Find the file abbrvnat.bst in your TeX distribution. If you work with an online LaTeX compiler, I suggest you obtain the file from https://www.ctan.org/tex-archive/macros/latex/contrib/natbib/.

  • Make a copy of this file and call the copy, say abbrvnat-reverse.bst. Don't edit an original file of the TeX distribution directly.

  • Open the file abbrvnat-reverse.bst in a text editor. The editor you use to edit your tex files will do fine.

  • In the file abbrvnat-reverse.bst, locate the function format.names. In my copy of this file, the format.names function starts on line 216.

  • In this function, locate the following line:

        { s nameptr "{f.~}{vv~}{ll}{, jj}" format.name$ 't :=

    Change this line to

        { s nameptr "{vv~}{ll}{, jj}{, f.}" format.name$ 't :=
  • Save the file abbrvnat-reverse.bst either in the directory where your main tex file is located (this instruction applies if you use an online LaTeX compiler) or in a directory that's searched by BibTeX. If you choose the latter method, please also update the filename database of your TeX distribution suitably.

  • In your main TeX file, change



  • Finally, perform a full recompile cycle -- LaTeX, BibTeX, and LaTeX twice more -- to fully propagate all changes.

Happy BibTeXing!

  • Thanks a lot @Mico , that was very clear and it worked perfectly! :)
    – hydra
    Jun 26, 2019 at 7:08

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