# Why a comma appears for the first author of the bibliography?

With biber and biblatex i write a thing like :

@article{brown1999basal,
title={How the basal ganglia use parallel excitatory and inhibitory learning pathways to selectively respond to unexpected rewarding cues},
author={Brown, Joshua and Bullock, Daniel and Grossberg, Stephen},
journal={Journal of Neuroscience},
volume={19},
number={23},
pages={10502--10511},
year={1999},
publisher={Soc Neuroscience}
}


And i obtain :

Brown, Joshua, Daniel Bullock et Stephen Grossberg (1999). « How the basal ganglia use parallel excitatory and inhibitory learning pathways to selectively respond to unexpected rewarding cues ». In : Journal of Neuroscience 19.23, p. 10502-10511.

Why there is this kind of presentation about the first comma ? In other words, why :

Brown, Joshua, Daniel Bullock et Stephen Grossberg (1999)

And not :

Joshua Brown, Daniel Bullock et Stephen Grossberg (1999)

I discovered that it appears to be the same presentation in a lot of documents, but I didn't really understand why, as this is clearly unclear to switch to a "name, surname" presentation to a "surname name" during an enumeration ...

Two question so :

• Why this presentation exist by default ?
• How to prevent this ? (assuming that i use a thing like this :
\usepackage[backend=biber,natbib=true, style=authoryear, autopunct=false, uniquename=false, uniquelist=false, mincitenames=1,maxcitenames=2,bibencoding=utf8, maxbibnames=99]{biblatex}


for my options.

• Your bibliography is sorted by names, specifically the family names of the authors. So the entry you quote is sorted under "B" for Brown. It is useful to have the phrase that determines the sort order at the very beginning of the entry to make the list easier to scan. Mar 27 '20 at 13:19

tl;dr It has to do with sorting and directing attention to the relevant bits of information.

With your settings (specifically style=authoryear,) the bibliography list is sorted by author names, year and title. This means the most relevant bit that determines the sort order is the author name.

Western names are usually sorted by family (last) name and then by given (first name), so "Joshua Brown" sorts under B for the reversed form of the name "Brown, Joshua" and not under J for Joshua even though the "natural" name order is usually given-family. (There are languages where the "natural" order of the name is family name-given name. But BibTeX and many bits of biblatex are quite western-centric. When names are reversed into family-given order one usually adds a comma between the family and given name.)

In lists sorted like this it makes sense to put the phrase that determined the sort order first so that it can easily be seen when scanning the list. That's why biblatex's authoryear style reverses the first name in the list to family-given order. In your example the first thing one sees when one looks at the entry is "Brown", so one immediately knows that one is at "B". If the name were given as "Joshua Brown" the first thing one sees is "J", which might lead to the wrong impression that the one is already at "J" in the list.

Furthermore, the authoryear styles use the family name of authors to label the citation in the text. So your reader will only come to your list with "Brown et al." in her mind, if the first thing she sees is "Joshua" that won't help her.

Granted, some of this "the attention is drawn to the wrong part of the name" issue is alleviated by the fact that your document appears to be in French, which often (and by default in biblatex) typesets family names in sᴍᴀʟʟ ᴄᴀᴘs, so it is slightly easier to navigate. But still compare

with

Now imagine the bibliography is even longer, potentially stretching over several pages.

The second example was generated with

\documentclass[french]{article}
\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}
\usepackage{babel}
\usepackage{csquotes}

\usepackage[backend=biber, style=authoryear,
uniquename=false, uniquelist=false,
mincitenames=1, maxcitenames=2, maxbibnames=99,
autopunct=false,]{biblatex}

\DeclareNameAlias{sortname}{given-family}

\begin{document}
\cite{sigfridsson,worman,geer,nussbaum,cicero,pines,gaonkar:in}
\printbibliography
\end{document}


which contains the code to reorder the names.

I will admit that I found it a bit odd that the standard name order in style=authoryear, is family-given/given-family, so that only the first author/editor is shown in the reversed family-given format. I guess the idea behind that is that given-family is the "natural" order and that those names are not as relevant for the sorting, so reversing them would not help that much and keeping the "natural" order is seen as more relevant here.

Note that styles like style=numeric, or style=alphabetic, where there are more relevant cues for the reader about the sort order use the natural name order "given-family" for all names, even the first one.

You can use

\DeclareNameAlias{sortname}{family-given}


to get family-given order, which is friendlier for sorting

Brown, Joshua, Bullock, Daniel et Grossberg, Stephen (1999)

but typesets all name in the reversed family-given order.

For the fun of it here is a solution that uses given-family name order but highlights the first letter or the family name of the first name in the list in bold.

\documentclass[french]{article}
\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}
\usepackage{babel}
\usepackage{csquotes}

\usepackage[backend=biber, style=authoryear,
uniquename=false, uniquelist=false,
mincitenames=1, maxcitenames=2, maxbibnames=99,
autopunct=false,]{biblatex}

\usepackage{expl3}

\ExplSyntaxOn
\tl_new:N \l__beaublatex_tempa_tl

\cs_new_protected:Npn \beaublatex_highlight_first #1 #2 #3
{
\tl_set:Nx \l__beaublatex_tempa_tl {#3}
\regex_replace_once:nnN {\A[A-Z]} {\c{#2}\0} \l__beaublatex_tempa_tl
#1{\l__beaublatex_tempa_tl}
}

\DeclareNameFormat{given-family:firstfirstbold}{%
\ifnumequal{\value{listcount}}{1}
{\renewcommand*{\mkbibnamefamily}{\beaublatex_highlight_first{\textsc}{textbf}}}
{}%
\ifgiveninits
{\usebibmacro{name:given-family}
{\namepartfamily}
{\namepartgiveni}
{\namepartprefix}
{\namepartsuffix}}
{\usebibmacro{name:given-family}
{\namepartfamily}
{\namepartgiven}
{\namepartprefix}
{\namepartsuffix}}%
\usebibmacro{name:andothers}}

\DeclareNameAlias{sortname}{given-family:firstfirstbold}
\ExplSyntaxOff


• @NilsBeaussé I added a suggestion to make the B in "Brown" bold. Keep in mind that most tradition that the standard styles follow was developed back when hyperlinks weren't a thing and text was usually printed. To avoid misunderstandings it can help to typeset the family name in a different font (for example in small caps) or to use a different separator between names than name parts: "Brown, Joshua; Daniel Bullcok and Stephen Grossberg". I haven't seen all that many texts with family-given/given-family order but this may well be field and language-specific. Mar 27 '20 at 14:19