Since the coding of my problem is too long, I have put it after this message. I have explained the problem more in the tex file. In short:

Some references print initials and in some cases several names are printed before et al. instead of one!

I am using these commands:

pdflatex test.tex
biber test
pdflatex test.tex

The test.tex file:



   author = {{Lilly}, S.~J. and {Tresse}, L. and {Hammer}, F. and {Crampton}, D. and {Le Fevre}, O.},
   title = "{The Canada-France Redshift Survey. VI. Evolution of the Galaxy Luminosity Function to Z approximately 1}",
  journal = {APJ},
   eprint = {arXiv:astro-ph/9507079},
     year = 1995,
    month = dec,
   volume = 455,
    pages = {108},
      doi = {10.1086/176560},
   adsurl = {http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1995ApJ...455..108L},

   author = {{Lilly}, S. and {Schade}, D. and {Ellis}, R. and {Le Fevre}, O. and 
    {Brinchmann}, J. and {Tresse}, L. and {Abraham}, R. and {Hammer}, F. and 
    {Crampton}, D. and {Colless}, M. and {Glazebrook}, K. and {Mallen-Ornelas}, G. and 
    {Broadhurst}, T.},
    title = "{Hubble Space Telescope Imaging of the CFRS and LDSS Redshift Surveys. II. Structural Parameters and the Evolution of Disk Galaxies to Z approximately 1}",
  journal = {ApJ},
   eprint = {arXiv:astro-ph/9712061},
     year = 1998,
    month = jun,
   volume = 500,
    pages = {75},
      doi = {10.1086/305713},
   adsurl = {http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1998ApJ...500...75L},

   author = {{Ellis}, R.~S. and {Colless}, M. and {Broadhurst}, T. and {Heyl}, J. and 
{Glazebrook}, K.},
   title = "{Autofib Redshift Survey - I. Evolution of the galaxy luminosity function}",
  journal = {MNRAS},
   eprint = {arXiv:astro-ph/9512057},
     year = 1996,
    month = may,
   volume = 280,
    pages = {235-251},
   adsurl = {http://ads.nao.ac.jp/abs/1996MNRAS.280..235E},
  adsnote = {Provided by the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System}

   author = {{Kajisawa}, M. and {Ichikawa}, T. and {Tanaka}, I. and {Konishi}, M. and 
{Yamada}, T. and {Akiyama}, M. and {Suzuki}, R. and {Tokoku}, C. and 
{Uchimoto}, Y.~K. and {Yoshikawa}, T. and {Ouchi}, M. and {Iwata}, I. and 
{Hamana}, T. and {Onodera}, M.},
   title = "{MOIRCS Deep Survey. IV. Evolution of Galaxy Stellar Mass Function Back to $z {\sim} 3$}",
  journal = {APJ},
archivePrefix = "arXiv",
   eprint = {0907.0133},
 primaryClass = "astro-ph.CO",
 keywords = {galaxies: evolution, galaxies: high-redshift, infrared: galaxies},
     year = 2009,
    month = sep,
   volume = 702,
    pages = {1393-1412},
      doi = {10.1088/0004-637X/702/2/1393},
   adsurl = {http://ads.nao.ac.jp/abs/2009ApJ...702.1393K}

   author = {{Kajisawa}, M. and {Ichikawa}, T. and {Tanaka}, I. and {Yamada}, T. and 
{Akiyama}, M. and {Suzuki}, R. and {Tokoku}, C. and {Katsuno Uchimoto}, Y. and 
{Konishi}, M. and {Yoshikawa}, T. and {Nishimura}, T. and {Omata}, K. and 
{Ouchi}, M. and {Iwata}, I. and {Hamana}, T. and {Onodera}, M.
   title = "{MOIRCS Deep Survey. IX. Deep Near-Infrared Imaging Data and Source Catalog}",
  journal = {PASJ},
archivePrefix = "arXiv",
   eprint = {1012.2115},
 primaryClass = "astro-ph.CO",
 keywords = {catalogs, galaxies: high-redshift, galaxies: photometry, infrared: galaxies, surveys},
     year = 2011,
    month = mar,
   volume = 63,
    pages = {379-},
   adsurl = {http://ads.nao.ac.jp/abs/2011PASJ...63S.379K},

%Things to do with the hyperref package:
\usepackage[pdftex, plainpages = false, pdfpagelabels, 
        pdfpagelayout = OneColumn
        bookmarksopen = true,
        bookmarksnumbered = true,
        breaklinks = true,
        colorlinks = true,
        hyperindex = true,

%For Bibliography:

This is an example of the problem I am dealing with, take a look at the following two references, the first one sometimes has initials and the second one never has initials: \cite[e.g.,][]{lilly95,ellis96}. Here is the first one alone this time: \citep{lilly95}. Here is another paper by \cite{lilly98}. As you see, the two different "Lilly" papers have two different initials.

Here are two example of using many names instead of one: \citep[][K11]{kaj09, kaj11}. Any guidance to fix this problem would be great. This doesn't happen to all the citations, infact most are good, only a very limited few give such strange outputs.


  • 5
    OK -- I looked at the .bib file, and it the answer is somewhat clear. I only get initials printed in the bibliography, and the 'S. J.' in that case is because you have it in the .bib file (I don't see it in the document body). As for the multiple name author list, that is to disambiguate between different sets of authors: the two Kajisawa articles are identical until the fourth author, so biber prints all author names to the fourth author. Otherwise a 'Kajisaw et al. 2009' and a 'Kajisawa et al. 2011' look like exactly the same people were involved. – jon Aug 14 '12 at 5:14
  • 1
    @astroboy I have shortened your code. A MWE is the absolute minimum that is required. There were a lot of unneeded packages... :) – zeroth Aug 14 '12 at 5:24
  • 1
    I should also add, if you are unsatisfied with the default biber behaviour on the disambiguation of names, look at the uniquename and uniquelist options for biblatex (though they are biber-only features). – jon Aug 14 '12 at 5:26
  • 2
    @Jon Perhaps you could make your comments into an answer? Depending on the background people come from, they might expect 'et al.' to be used to shorten any list of authors to one name, so the default might be unexpected. (For example, in my subject area we use numerical citations, so if I refer to the authors of a paper I only want one name when I use 'et al.'.) – Joseph Wright Aug 14 '12 at 7:08
  • Thank you very much jon, I set both parameters to false and I got exactly what I wanted. There were so many new things in BibLaTeX for me to learn that I completely forgot this behavior. Could you add this as an answer to this question so I accept it? – makhlaghi Aug 14 '12 at 7:18

(From earlier comments.)

biber is much smarter than bibtex when it comes to disambiguating lists of authors in that it will automatically print as many names as are necessary to show that two sets of authors are not identical. In your example, this doesn't occur until the fourth author (e.g., 'Kajisawa, M. and ... Konishi, M.' vs. 'Kajisawa, M. and ... Yamada, T.'), so, by default,biber prints all these names in your in-text citations.

If you need to disable this behaviour, there is the uniquelist option you can pass to biblatex (note that it is a biber-only feature, but then again, bibtex won't give you this potential problem); e.g.:


The uniquelist (and uniquename settings) interacts with the maxnames setting in powerful ways. There is a good discussion of the various ambiguity problems in § 4.11.4 of the biblatex manual (ver. 1.7).

Regarding the initials, biblatex is putting in the bibliography the names as they are found in the .bib file: some have two initials (e.g., Ellis and Lilly), while others have only one.

  • 1
    Thank you Jon for the excellent explanation. Now that I understood the problem I found the problem with the initials too: I modified the test.tex file above to add another paper by "Lilly" that caused the initials problem. That was also fixed with setting uniquelist and uniquename to False. Thanks again. – makhlaghi Aug 15 '12 at 2:26
  • @astroboy -- Glad to have been able to help. – jon Aug 15 '12 at 2:36

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