Is there a way to produce Chicago-style citations of material written in Chinese, Japanese, for an English-language paper using biblatex-chicago?

I want to produce a citation that looks like:

Li Wuwei 李无未, Riben Hanyu yinyun xue shi 日本汉语音韵学史 (History of the study of Chinese phonology in Japan) (Beijing: Shangwu yinshuguan, 2011)

Right now, I'm able to produce a reference that looks like this using biblatex-chicago:

Li Wuwei [李无未], Riben Hanyu yinyun xue shi, 日本汉语音韵学史 [History of the study of Chinese phonology in Japan] (Beijing: Shangwu yinshuguan, 2011)

My .bib entry looks like:

Author = {{Li Wuwei}}, %Author as institution not individual
nameaddon = {李无未},
Publisher = {Shangwu yinshuguan},
address = {Beijing},
Title = {Riben Hanyu yinyun xue shi},
titleaddon = {日本汉语音韵学史},
usere = {History of the study of Chinese phonology in Japan},
Year = {2011}}

The problem is not the square brackets around the Chinese name and title, but

(1) the fact that the name now is not parsed as a name (if it were, it would be listed in the footnote as "Wuwei Li," and in the final bibliography as "Li, Wuwei," which is incorrect), but treated as one word. This means I cannot make the style cite the reference simply as

Li, Riben

but only

Li Wuwei, Riben

in subsequent citations. Dominic Yu (http://blyt.net/blog/2009/11/bibtex-and-chinese-names.html) kindly showed me how to solve this with bibtex. I wonder if there is a solution for biblatex-chicago?

The second problem is:

(2) The comma

Riben Hanyu yinyun xue shi, 日本汉语音韵学史

between the transcribed title and the original title. Is there a way I can get rid of that in the reference?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  • Next to the author field, you have the remark Author as institution not individual. Have you tried setting the field's value to {Li, Wuwei} (instead of {{Li Wuwei}})? I'm afraid I don't have the required fonts and hence can't check out directly if this suggestion might help.
    – Mico
    Aug 11, 2012 at 11:21
  • Thank you for your suggestion. If I write the name as {Li, Wuwei}, it will be "Wuwei Li" in the footnote, and "Li, Wuwei" in the bibliography. However, convention has it that the name should be "Li Wuwei" in both footnote and bibliography, and, possibly "Li" in short, subsequent citations.
    – Mårten
    Aug 12, 2012 at 2:39
  • Thanks for providing this clarification. It appears that @Audrey's answer -- which provides a new method for rendering a person's name, besides the Western/default and "institution as individual" ways -- is the correct way to proceed.
    – Mico
    Aug 12, 2012 at 11:12
  • 1
    moewe seems to have a quite promising and elegant solution to your first question, as well as insights to your second one, with biblatex 3.5+ and biber 2.6.
    – XMJ
    Sep 29, 2016 at 2:50

2 Answers 2


For problem (1), the nameaddon field can hold the CJK name for only a single author. This approach is no good for works by multiple authors and name lists in other fields, such as editor. One way around this is to reserve the name affix for the CJK name:

author = {Li, 李无未, Wuwei and Keane, Michael}

and modify the name formatting directives. This is somewhat awkward and you'll have to characterize "real" name affixes in order to properly format names like "Robert Griffin III" and "Lon Chaney Junior". A rudimentary \ifnameaffix test is used in the example below.

For problem (2), using the titleaddon field for the CJK title is probably the way to go for biblatex-chicago styles. Punctuation between the title and the title add-on is tangled up in a bunch of different formats, drivers and macros. One possible way out is to use \nopunct in the title formatting directives.

% Sets uniquelist=minyear and uniquename=minfull

% List of name affixes excluding Roman numerals

  \ifboolexpr{ test {\ifrmnum{#1}} or test {\ifinlist{#1}{\nameaffixlist}} }}

% Based on definitions from biblatex.def    
  \ifboolexpr{ test {\ifblank{#7}} or test {\ifnameaffix{#7}} }

  \ifboolexpr{ test {\ifblank{#7}} or test {\ifnameaffix{#7}} }

  \ifboolexpr{ test {\ifblank{#7}} or test {\ifnameaffix{#7}} }

  \ifboolexpr{ test {\ifblank{#7}} or test {\ifnameaffix{#7}} }


% Based on definitions from biblatex-chicago cbx    





  title={A Nation-State by Construction: Dynamics of Modern Chinese Nationalism},
  author={Zhao, Suisheng},
  publisher={Stanford University Press}}
  author = {Zhao, 赵杰, Jie},
  title = {Qingdai Manwen de wenzi tese ji yinyun, yinbian tedian},
  titleaddon = {清代满文的文字特色及音韵、音变特点},
  usere = {Scriptual specificities of Manchu writing in the Qing period
           and characteristics of phonology and sound change},
  shorttitle = {Manwen de wenzi tese},
  journal = {Manzu yanjiu},
  volume = {102},
  number = {1},
  date = {2011},
  pages = {7--12}}
  author = {Li, 李无未, Wuwei and Brown, Junior, Bob and Doe, III, John},
  publisher = {Shangwu yinshuguan},
  address = {Beijing},
  title = {Riben Hanyu yinyun xue shi},
  titleaddon = {日本汉语音韵学史},
  usere = {History of the study of Chinese phonology in Japan},
  date = {2011}}

\textcite{li,zhaos,zhaoj} \\
\citeauthor{li,zhaos,zhaoj} \\

enter image description here

A few notes:

  • CJK names are not responsive to firstinits, but it is straightforward to make them so.
  • Name disambiguation only considers the first and last parts of a person's name, not the affix. This is convenient for handling two ambiguous CJK names, but perhaps not ideal for ambiguities between CJK and non-CJK names (see the example).
  • The name affix approach redefines generic formatting directives from biblatex.def. So it should work for a variety of styles.
  • The formatting changes to handle the title add-on approach are very specific to biblatex-chicago. They have little use in other styles.
  • This looks great thank you so much! I will try it out immediately; but, where do I put the second string of code? Not in the document preamble?
    – Mårten
    Aug 12, 2012 at 3:33
  • 1
    @Mårten No problem. You may have noticed that the notes style sets an extraneous comma after the leading reversed name in a two-person list: "Last1, First1, and First2 Last2". If that isn't by-design you might want to contact the biblatex-chicago author.
    – Audrey
    Aug 23, 2012 at 16:09
  • 1
    @Mårten I forgot to mention that there are plans to better support multilingual documents. Probably not in the very near future, but it will likely be the next major feature introduced into biblatex+biber.
    – Audrey
    Oct 3, 2012 at 23:51
  • 1
    That is great news! I think many people in Asian studies would benefit from it. When it happens, is it likely that I will have to reformat all the biblatex entries in my database?
    – Mårten
    Oct 4, 2012 at 3:45
  • 1
    @Mårten Since the last name Zhao is non-unique, I'd expect the uniquename counter for those entries to be non-zero. This doesn't seem to be the case. I've posted an issue at the biblatex github repo.
    – Audrey
    Mar 14, 2015 at 17:13

Being an east-asianist myself, I came across your (Mårten’s) guide and this question. Thank you for both.

While it doesn’t use biblatex-chicago, the following still is a very simple yet working solution for the problem of inserting entries with Asian names.


\setCJKmainfont{Source Han Sans}
        title = {Ruhe yanjiu guoxue},
        titleaddon = {如何研究国学},
        volume = {3},
        rights = {山东大学文史哲编辑部},
        issn = {0511-4721},
        journaltitle = {文史哲},
        author = {Zhang~Dainian, 张岱年},
        date = {1994},
\renewcommand{\labelnamepunct}{\addcolon\space}% : instead of . after name
Hello world.\footcite[p. 32]{zhangdainianruhe1994}

In the footnote, only the Western name is stated. In the bibliography, First the Western name and then the Chinese name is stated. This is achieved by simply securing the space between Zhang and Dainian: Zhang~Dainian, and putting the characters as the first name, behind the comma.

Done like this, you can easily write Western names as well by simply using the regular space instead of ~. I use xelatex instead of pdflatex, hence polyglossia instead of babel.

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