Can someone please explain in a clear and concise way how am I supposed to enter the names of authors in a BibTeX file? I have entries with something like

   author = {Juan A. Navarro P\'erez, Ra\'ul de la Garza and Andr\'es Espinoza},

but somehow the output seems kind of wrong!

  • 1
    Comments below suggest First Last or Last, First are both OK, and seem to prefer First Last. I haven't found a definitive source, but I think Last, First is preferred, since it contains additional information (the comma as a delimiter). Certain 3rd party tools (RefTeX) understand Last, First but not First Last.
    – mankoff
    Apr 27, 2014 at 16:40

3 Answers 3


I think things are just a bit more complicated than in @Joseph's answer. (Though in laying them out, I may violate the desire for a "concise" answer.)

My go to reference for details of the BibTeX format is Norman Walsh's page which self describes as:

This help entry contains the same information as Appendix B of the LaTeX manual.

In BibTeX's world view, a name has four components:

1) First name (which includes any middle names provided)

2) von ("de la" or "van der" like components)

3) Last (Surname without the von part)

4) Jr (Things like "Jr.", "III", etc)

The page explains:

you may type a name in one of three forms:

"First von Last" "von Last, First" "von Last, Jr, First"

You may almost always use the first form; you shouldn't if either there's a Jr part or the Last part has multiple tokens but there's no von part.

You can enclose components in braces to overcome BibTeX's identification of named components. Say, implausibly enough, that toni morrison were to wed someone named Jones and thus adopt the name 'toni morrison Jones'. You could render this '{t}oni {{m}orrison Jones}' with the braces around the 't' and 'm' to prevent a bibliographic style from altering the capitalization and the braces around 'morrison Jones' to force BibTeX to identify the entire string as the Last component, rather than treating `morrison' as the von part.

Finally, you can use braces if 'and' or a coma are part of the name. In the example on the page:

"{Barnes and Noble, Inc.}"

  • 2
    I'd forgotten about the 'Jr' part, but you are of course correct.
    – Joseph Wright
    Jul 29, 2010 at 13:07
  • 7
    vanden, as this has become a popular answer to a popular question, might you care do edit and polish your answer to merge and include some other details from @joseph's answer (i.e. names have to be separated by "and") Mar 25, 2012 at 11:39
  • Just a note for names that include "the second", "the third", "the fourth" - the correct entry would be e.g. author = {Surname, IV, Name}, for "Name Surname IV".
    – sdaau
    May 3, 2014 at 10:03

Two things to remember. First, each name must be separated by 'and', as this is what BibTeX looks for to separate them out. (It has to be 'and' in English, I'm afraid.) Second, BibTeX can understand different parts of a name if you give it as 'Surname, Firstname', i.e. with the surname first. So for your example I would have

  author = {Navarro P\'erez, Juan A. and de la Garza, Ra\'ul  and 
    Espinoza, Andr\'es},

Notice that BibTeX can detect a 'von' part (which includes the 'de la' here), if it is in the surname section but starts with a lower case letter.


To add to the accepted answer (in lieu of commenting, which requires more reputation): http://maverick.inria.fr/~Xavier.Decoret/resources/xdkbibtex/bibtex_summary.html#names provides a clear overview of how to enter names in various ways and get BibTex to recognise the Firstname, Von, LastName and Jr parts.

For ease: use "von Lastname, Jr, Firstname" with the "von" part starting lowercase and the first- and last names upper case.

Secondly, between two authors, do not use commas, but use the word "and". So

author = {von Lastname, Jr, Firstname and 
          di Lastname2, Firstname2 and
          Lastname3, Firstname3}

for multiple authors

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