In my bibliography a book has been published in a few volumes across different years, and I need to cite some of such volumes. Other books have been published in several volumes in the same year.

This kind of sources is somehow unusual for me. Say, with a joking choice of fields:

Mouse, M.
The re-discovery of the countryside in the early Pleistocene
Volumes 361,362,363 of the Futuristic Agriculture Series
Published in 1965(2nd ed),1953,1957

The work is divided into three volumes I, II, III numbered 361 through 363 in a series.

Sometimes I would want a citation for the entire set (to introduce the overall effort of Mr Mouse perhaps), some other times a citation to a single volume (for the foreword and plan of work here, for a specific chapter there).

The brute-force, article-like approach would be to create an item for each volume. This would lead to a rather lengthy list, accurate but repetitious.

Are there BibTeX coding options to get a shorter list in the References --- basically one item contains author, work, number of volumes and respective years --- and yet accurate references in the body of the text -- say a tag that specifies a particular volume and year?

Any suggestion for best practices and implementations?

I am using bibtex. As bibliography style I am currently use unsrtnat.

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    Can you share (some of) the references you are thinking about? That would give us something to play around with and can give us some feeling as to what we are dealing with. (The only useful thing in BibTeX/natbib I can think of at the moment is crossref. biblatex has a related feature and an entry type for multi-volume books: @mvbook, which may or may not help.) – moewe Apr 11 '20 at 15:18
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    I suppose the answer to your question depends crucially on how detailed your citations need to be. If you discuss a specific claim made on p. 28 of one book and, later on, debate a claim made on p. 552 of some other book in the series, the natural thing to do is to provide separate bib entries for each book. Put differently, the fact that the works you're citing belong to some series might be almost immaterial. If, on the other hand, you make some generic reference to an overarching theme present in all books in the series, you can probably get away with a single entry. – Mico Apr 11 '20 at 15:19
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    Related (using biblatex, so possibly not what you are after): tex.stackexchange.com/q/462748/35864, tex.stackexchange.com/q/459759/35864 (all quite complex, but it shows what could be done if you put in the work). Another idea with biblatex: gist.github.com/moewew/89357f98aca7c605eab16e1385674c25 – moewe Apr 11 '20 at 15:36
  • @moewe Added some text – XavierStuvw Apr 11 '20 at 16:22
  • Can you share a real-world example? Made-up examples can sometimes give the wrong impression. In the case you made up is The re-discovery of the countryside in the early Pleistocene a three-volume book? – moewe Apr 11 '20 at 16:24

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