Is it possible to set (or change) the natbib package options after its loading (i.e. after the line \usepackage{natbib})?

The reason I need it is that I'm using a LaTeX style from a journal and it has a natbib option which means it "...handles reference entries in the author-year system by using the natbib package", according to the journal style documentation, and I need to tune some settings (like 'sort&compress', for example), but I do not know how to do that since I do not load the 'natbib' package directly.

I know there is a command \biboptions{} in Elsevier LaTeX style which does exactly what I want. But as far as I understand, this command is specific to their style and does not belong to the natbib package itself, or am I wrong?

P.S. I'm working with the Springer's 'SVJour3' document class currently. It is a widely used one, I believe. So, maybe someone can suggest me a way to sort the citations so that they do not look like [2,3,1] instead of [1-3] or at least [1,2,3] in the text?

Thank you!

3 Answers 3


You can use \PassOptionsToPackage{OPTIONS}{PACKAGE} to set additional options which should be used when the package gets loaded. But you have to use it before the package gets loaded.

Or you could use PreventPackageFromLoading from the scrfile package, which is part of KOMA-Script. You could prevent the package from loading and later load it yourself after you reset the prevented packages with \ResetPreventPackageFromLoading. More in the KOMA-Script Guide (scrguide).


The \biboptions macro would seem to be set up by the elsarticle document class (or one of its subsidiary files), rather than by natbib. If you can use this command to disable sorting/compressing of numerical references, I'd do so.

The commands natbib provides to change citation-related defaults are \setcitestyle and \bibpunct. The \bibpunct command is the older of the two, and always takes exactly six arguments. The command \setcitestyle, in contrast, is more flexible and also a bit "wordier". However, neither of these two commands would allow you to undo a package option such as "sort&compress".

Finally, I'd say that if you're forced to use a certain document class and bibliography style file for your journal submission, it's generally not productive to try to subvert this requirement. A cover letter, in which you explain to the editor and editorial assistants why one or more settings embedded in their journal's default setup are not chosen optimally and why they should consider accepting a different set of settings, may be the better approach to achieving a satisfactory outcome.

  • 1
    Totally agree on that last point!
    – Joseph Wright
    Aug 19, 2012 at 11:39

I think I have found the answer as far as Elsevier articles are concerned (I am using elsarticle.cls). elsarticle-num.bst requires entries in the BibTeX database to be preceded with a \bibitem tag, e.g.

  author = {P. W. Bridgman},
  title = {A complete collection of thermodynamic formulas},
  journal = {Physical Review},
  year = {1914},
  volume = {3},
  issue = {4},
  pages = {273--281},

If this is done the references should appear sorted in the article.

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