I have discovered biblatex and biber just a few months ago, they are fabulous resources but unfortunately I haven't found yet a resource explaining how to customize them.

I'm using natbib syntax, and would like to change two things:

  1. whenever I am in a phdthesis entry, biblatex-natbib will output the string “Doctoral dissertation” in the reference, but in fact in France (and more generally in Europe) we have many kinds of PhD: thèse de doctorat, thèse de 3e cycle, thèse d'état, HDR, habilitation, etc. In the BST styles I use for the French Mathematical Society there is a field called THESISNAME where I can specify the type of PhD and this string will replace the default “PhD Thesis,” how can I introduce such an entry in biblatex-natbib?

  2. when there are many entries by the same author I would like the 2nd to n-th entries to start by a long dash instead of the author's name. How can this be obtained?

[I realize that it wouldn't be reasonable to ask a question on tex.stackexchange every time some small customization is needed, but I'm convinced that if somebody can show me how to do those two small changes, I will understand how the system works and will be able to make other similar changes by myself.]

  • For the first question, it cannot be solved in preamble: you have to define a new data model in a .dbx file. See Moewe's explanations in his answer to this question.For the second question, you don't say which style you use, but, for instance, authoryear-compwill do that.
    – Bernard
    Commented Oct 20, 2019 at 9:26
  • I use natbib, is that what you mean by "style"?
    – yannis
    Commented Oct 20, 2019 at 10:32
  • biblatex's generic @thesis type has a field called type that would be pretty much equivalent to your thesisname. The field can be used with bibstrings, so you can easy set up predefined strings (see e.g. github.com/plk/biblatex/issues/660) or you can use it as a free-form field.
    – moewe
    Commented Oct 20, 2019 at 10:34
  • No, the natbib option is a compatibility module. Bibstyle is, for instance, auhoryear, authortitle, numeric. You can see a list in § 3.3, Standard Styles, pp.72–78 in the documentation.
    – Bernard
    Commented Oct 20, 2019 at 10:44
  • I use the following command in my document: \usepackage[natbib=true,style=apa,backend=biber]{biblatex} but apais not mentioned in §3.3 and the document biblatex.pdf has no index so that I can search for it. Is authoryear-comporthogonal to apa, if yes how do I set this option?
    – yannis
    Commented Oct 20, 2019 at 10:49

1 Answer 1


For the first question, it cannot be solved in preamble: you have to define a new data model in a .dbx file. See Moewe's explanations in his answer to this question.

For the second question, the authoryear-comp style will do that. You can see a list of the core biblatex styles in § 3.3, Standard Styles, pp. 72–78 in the documentation, and these styles can be further customised – the xpatch package can be quite helpful for this job.

  • For point one it may be helpful to mention that the existing type field is essentially what yannis had in mind with THESISNAME, so it might just be a matter of switching to the predefine field. Since the question asks about general resources, it may be worth mentioning the standard tex.stackexchange.com/q/12806/35864 (of course it doesn't nearly cover everything that biblatex can do, but it is a start) not only in the comments, but also in the answer.
    – moewe
    Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 6:28

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