# How to modify the alpha bibliography style to show truncated first names after the surnames?

I am searching for a way to make my references such that:

• the layout of the citation call-outs follows standard alpha style, and
• the layout of the formatted bibliographic entries is slightly non-standard, as follows. For an article published in 1998 by A. Braham and D. Avid, I want the citation call-out to be "standard alpha", i.e., [BA98], and the list of authors in the formatted bibliographic entry to be shown as Braham, A., and Avid, D. Currently, the name list format is A. Braham and D. Avid.

I suggest you proceed as follows:

• Find the file alpha.bst in your TeX distribution. Make a copy of this file and call the copy, say, alpha-mod.bst. (Don't edit an original, unrenamed file of the TeX distribution directly.)

• In the file alpha-mod.bst, find the function format.names. (In my copy of the file, this function starts on line 187.)

In this function, find the following line:

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

• In this line, change the string "{ff~}{vv~}{ll}{, jj}" to "{vv~}{ll}{, jj}{, f.}".

Even if you're not familiar with BibTeX's in-fix syntax, I trust you can guess what this change does: Instead of telling BibTeX to place the first name before the other components of the author's full name, BibTeX is now instructed to place a comma and the truncated first name after all other components. (Aside: In BibTeX jargon, a "full" name may have up to four components: first or given name (or names), a von-component, the surname, and a junior-component.)

• Save the file alpha-mod.bst either in the directory that contains your main tex file or in a directory that's searched by BibTeX. If you choose the latter option, be sure to update the filename database of your TeX distribution suitably.

• In your main tex file, change the instruction \bibliographystyle{alpha} to \bibliographystyle{alpha-mod} and perform a full recompile cycle: LaTeX, BibTeX, and LaTeX twice more to fully propagate all changes.

Happy BibTeXing.

A full MWE (minimum working example):

\documentclass{article}
\begin{filecontents}[overwrite]{mybib.bib}
@misc{ab02, author = "Anne Author and Brenda Buthor",
title = "Thoughts", year = 3002}
@misc{abc03, author = "Anne Author and Brenda Buthor and Carla Cuthor",
title = "Further Thoughts", year = 3003}
\end{filecontents}

\bibliographystyle{alpha-mod}

\begin{document}
\cite{ab02}, \cite{abc03}
\bibliography{mybib}
\end{document}

• I work in Overleaf, is it also possible to find the alpha.bst file there?
– Sven
Apr 8 '20 at 10:27
• @Sven - I'm afraid I don't know Overleaf at all. If you can't find it in Overleaf, you could download alpha.bst from the CTAN (Central TeX Archive Network) at mirrors.ctan.org/tex-archive/biblio/bibtex/base/alpha.bst.
– Mico
Apr 8 '20 at 10:32