Is there a ready made BibTeX bibliography style file that both: (1) prints author names abbreviated (like abbrv) in the references section and (2) sorts references numerically in citation order (like unsrt)? Furthermore, is there one such style compatible with natbib?

  • 1
    Side remark: is that really a good idea? Unsorted listings with abbreviated author names can make referring to the reference list (in dead tree format; so you can't hide behind hyperref) rather difficult. Nov 7, 2010 at 19:28
  • @Willie, well this is what I was asked to produce, so I don't have much choice. But could you elaborate on why is this a bad idea? Why an unsorted but non-abbreviated list would be any better? Nov 8, 2010 at 12:07
  • Ah, perhaps I misunderstood you since you mentioned natbib. I thought you want a citation format that has in-line [JoSm] and in the reference section [JoSm] Johnson, A and B Smith, blah. and have that listed in citation order. Looking more closely at LockStep's answer suggest you actually want just to abbreviate the author first names in the reference section and cite by number. Then in that case my objection won't apply. I'll leave why "what I thought you meant" is a bad idea as an exercise to the reader. Nov 8, 2010 at 13:05
  • I see, yes, I wasn't clear enough. In the text I'll be using numerical references since otherwise, as you point out, unsorted references don't make a lot of sense. Nov 8, 2010 at 13:12

2 Answers 2


I didn't find a ready-made bst-file, but seem to have managed to combine unsrt and abbrv by myself. Since I can't upload the new bst-file, here's what I did:

  1. Copy unsrt.bst into a working directory and rename it (later, this file should go into your local texmf tree);

  2. In the new file, look for FUNCTION {format.names}. In the seventh code line of this function, look for ff~ and replace it with f.~ (because that's the way it is in abbrv.bst);

  3. Replace the macros for month/journal names after FUNCTION {default.type} { misc } with their counterparts of abbrv.bst.

I've tested the resulting bst-file, and it seems to work. The relevant parts of plainnat.bst, abbrvnat.bst and unsrtnat.bst resemble those of the standard bst-files at first glance, so I guess the above method should also work to create a natbib-compatible bst-file that suits your request.

P.S.: With biblatex, your request would basically boil down to \usepackage[sorting=none,firstinits=true]{biblatex}. ;-)

  • 11
    +1 for pointing out how biblatex makes this question trivially easy
    – Seamus
    Nov 7, 2010 at 19:59
  • 3
    Thanks, this worked for me! If anybody needs it, I uploaded the custom bst file here. Just download it to your working folder, and put \bibliographystyle{unsrt_abbrv_custom} in your preamble.
    – Tropilio
    Mar 23, 2021 at 9:10

There is a ready made BibTeX style file that both: (1) prints author names abbreviated (like abbrv) in the references section and (2) sorts references numerically in citation order (like unsrt): ieeetr.bst. According to Choosing a BibTeX style it is one of the seven standard styles that come with LaTeX, but I do not know if it is compatible with natbib.

  • 5
    +1 -- ieeetrans formatting is somewhat different from unsrt and abbrv, but it does abbreviate and sort in citation order.
    – lockstep
    Oct 26, 2011 at 15:36
  • There is also a natbib-compatible version of IEEEtran, called IEEEtranN.bst
    – Praveen
    Mar 30, 2021 at 19:01

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