In a series of posts (see [1] and [2]) I asked how one can make one's own bibliography style.

Now, I would like to make the volume number bold, which is quite usual in many journals. What can I change in order to achieve this?


Let's assume that the bibliography style (bst) file you've been modifying is called alpha-mod.bst. I suggest you proceed as follows.

  • First, locate the BibTeX function called emphasize. (This function may have been reduced to a stub in an earlier modification round.) Below this function, insert the following code block:

     FUNCTION {embolden}
     { duplicate$ empty$
         { pop$ "" }
         { "{\bfseries " swap$ * "}" * }
  • Second, locate the following line

     FUNCTION {format.vol.num.pages}

    which denotes the start of the definition of, you guessed it, the format.vol.num.pages BibTeX function.

    The immediate next line in the bst file should be

    { volume field.or.null

    Change it to

     { volume embolden field.or.null

That's it. Don't forget to save the bst file.

  • Great! Thanks a lot!
    – Astrolabe
    Jun 21 '20 at 22:25
  • Another question came into my mind. Is there any clever way to abbreviate the journal names automatically? If yes, I will ask it separately.
    – Astrolabe
    Jun 21 '20 at 22:38
  • Of course, I mean the accepted abbreviation of the journal names, not any arbitrary ones.
    – Astrolabe
    Jun 21 '20 at 22:40
  • Is that possible?
    – Astrolabe
    Jun 22 '20 at 16:33
  • @Astrolabe - Sure it's possible. Lots of bib styles provide extensive lists of abbreviated journal names; see, e.g.,, elsarticle-harv.bst. OTOH, many other bib styles provide no such list.
    – Mico
    Jun 22 '20 at 16:39

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