I am using the unsrt bibliography style but I am finding that there are inconsistencies in the formatting of the bibliography. For example the following example produces a bibliography that is italic for book titles and normal for the rest but italic for article publication details and normal for the rest. For example the PDF bibliography might look something like this:

[1] Author1, Author2,...
     Article title.
     Article publication details.

[2] Author3, Author4,...
     Book title.
     Book publication details.

The document for the following example was created using pdflatex.


\graphicspath{ {images/} }

\title{Inconsistant bibliography formatting example}

\noindent Citation one \cite{Darwin2010}.
\noindent Citation two \cite{ReesChalkley2019}.




abstract = {In the future, entire genomes tailored to specific functions and environments could be designed using computational tools. However, computational tools for genome design are currently scarce. Here we present algorithms that enable the use of design-simulate-test cycles for genome design, using genome minimisation as a proof-of-concept. Minimal genomes are ideal for this purpose as they have a simple functional assay, the cell either replicates or not. We used the first (and currently only published) whole-cell model, for the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium . Our computational design-simulate-test cycles discovered novel in-silico minimal genomes smaller than JCVI-Syn3.0 , a bacteria with, currently, the smallest genome that can be grown in pure culture. In the process, we identified 10 low essentiality genes, 18 high essentiality genes, and produced evidence for at least two Mycoplasma genitalium in-silico minimal genomes. This work brings combined computational and laboratory genome engineering a step closer.},
author = {Rees, Joshua and Chalkley, Oliver and Landon, Sophie and Purcell, Oliver and Marucci, Lucia and Grierson, Claire},
doi = {10.1101/344564},
file = {:home/oli/.local/share/data/Mendeley Ltd./Mendeley Desktop/Downloaded/Rees et al. - 2019 - Designing Minimal Genomes Using Whole-Cell Models.pdf:pdf}, 
journal = {bioRxiv},
month = {mar},
pages = {344564},
publisher = {Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory},
title = {{Designing Minimal Genomes Using Whole-Cell Models}},
url = {https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/344564v3},
year = {2019}
abstract = {Title from publishers bibliographic system (viewed on 11 Apr 2014). Charles Darwin (1809–1882) first published this work in 1868 in two volumes. The book began as an expansion of the first two chapters of On the Origin of Species: 'Variation under Domestication' and 'Variation under Nature' and it developed into one of his largest works; Darwin referred to it as his 'big book'. In volume 2, concerned with how species inherit particular characteristics, Darwin first published his 'provisional hypothesis' of pangenesis. This theory of 'gemmules' was not met with much acceptance and today is not valuable as scientific explanation, but it was important in laying down the key questions that needed to be answered regarding the processes of genetic inheritance. Darwin also used volume 2 to challenge the theories of evolution by design, expounded by the botanist Asa Gray. Darwin's arguments were some of the very first in a long debate that remains hot today.},
author = {Darwin, Charles},
isbn = {1108014232},
pages = {500},
publisher = {Cambridge University Press},
title = {{The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication Volume 2}},
url = {https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en{\&}lr={\&}id={\_}uON0AO7qwYC{\&}oi=fnd{\&}pg=PA1{\&}dq=Variation+of+Animals+and+Plants+under+Domestication{\&}ots=hqeZySDFfI{\&}sig=YY5rjn06wS5HccnZ8kvVEMC7bpU{\#}v=onepage{\&}q=Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication{\&}f=false},
year = {2010}

I imagine that latex is doing this intentionally because one is a book and one is an article but my thesis examiners do not like the inconsistency and so is there a way to fix this? I have tried changing the @book to @article in the .bib file but then it displays different information that is more appropriate for an article and less appropriate for a book. Also, it would be nice to have something a bit cleaner and less mandrolic than manually going through a large .bib file to make lots of changes.

  • did you try to use biblatex and to choose one of the default styles that better match your request? You can have a first glance [here][1] but it's better to see the Biblatex documentation, which provides lots of details more. [1]: overleaf.com/learn/latex/biblatex_bibliography_styles
    – Teodoro
    Apr 22, 2020 at 7:49
  • @Teodoro I have looked at some but it's hard to know because the examples don't show all different type of document/media so I won't know until I've just tried them all. Do you know of any that do what I need?
    – ojunk
    May 11, 2020 at 15:03

1 Answer 1


People who spend time proclaiming the importance and desirability of consistency would do well to remind themselves of what may well be Ralph Waldo Emerson's best-known dictum: A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not claiming that one should be opposed to consistency or treat it with contempt. However, I do think it's not a good idea to strive for consistency where none is needed. Otherwise, you'll soon be comparing apples to oranges and -- almost inevitably -- start to complain that they don't look alike (other than their shapes being roughly spherical, I suppose). For sure, comparing the formatted outputs of entries of types @article and @book is pretty much the functional equivalent of comparing apples to oranges.

If your advisers keep insisting on making comparisons across formatted bibliographic entry types, they should focus on the entry types @article and @incollection. After all, a journal issue contains a multitude of articles written by separate authors, and an anthology or a conference proceedings volume consists of chapters written by separate authors. And -- big sigh of relief -- the unsrt bibliography does apply consistent formatting across the pairs article title -- chapter title and journal name -- title of anthology.

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I can't help but remark that your advisers should concern themselves much less with the appearance of the bibliography of your thesis and much more with its contents: Are there any salient publications you're unaware of? Are the names of authors, article names, journal names, book titles, etc correct, or are there typos?

  author   = "Anne Author and Brenda Branson", 
  title    = "Thoughts",
  journal  = "Circularity Today",
  year     = 3001,
  volume   = 1,
  number   = 2, 
  pages    = "3--4",
  author   = "Carla Carlson and Daniela Daniels",
  title    = "Further Thoughts",
  year     = 3002,
  pages    = "1001--1002",
  booktitle= "Circularity Forever",

Addendum: To appease your advisers, do consider employing the elsarticle-num bibliography style: Like unsrt, it doesn't sort the entries alphabetically by authors' surnames. Its main virtue, so to say, is that it is utterly brand: Nothing is italicized, and nothing is surrounded by quotation marks. Put differently, its utter blandness is guaranteed to satisfy your advisers' craving for consistency. Yay! Aside: If you do decide to use elsarticle-num instead of unsrt, be sure to also load the natbib citation management package with the option numbers.

  • 1
    I agree with what you've said @Mico but unfortunately, I must comply to get my PhD. Thank you for your suggestion about elsarticle-num it sound perfect! Unfortunately it now compiles the document without a bibliography at all. I will update my question with details right now and would be great if you could help?
    – ojunk
    May 11, 2020 at 14:59
  • @ojunk - May I suggest that you post a new query, in which you would lay out the details of what is and what is not working with the elsarticle-num bib style?
    – Mico
    May 11, 2020 at 15:43
  • 1
    please find the new question at tex.stackexchange.com/questions/543581/…
    – ojunk
    May 11, 2020 at 15:46

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