I'm using multibib. I manually set the order of the bibliography. I would like the order of the numbered items to be reversed. For example, my document has:


And the document then shows:

[1] Foo
[2] Bar

I would like the document to show:

[2] Foo
[1] Bar

Can anyone explain what to change in my .bst file, or a flag to multibib that I am missing that will achieve this?

  • 1
    It might depend on your bibstyle, but changing ITERATE {call.type$} to REVERSE {call.type$} should invert the order of the entries. However, this will also reverse the numbering of the references.
    – Olof
    Jan 27, 2011 at 8:58
  • 2
    If you're willing to switch to biblatex, have a look at tex.stackexchange.com/questions/21401/….
    – lockstep
    Sep 18, 2011 at 13:50
  • @mankoff: Have a look at the documentation. One possibility is to work with keywords. Oct 22, 2011 at 19:33
  • 1
    @mankoff A single bib file would need a different approach. It's possible - I just don't have time ATM to look into it.
    – Audrey
    Nov 15, 2011 at 18:19
  • 1
    @Audrey: I'd really like to see a biblatex solution!
    – lockstep
    Dec 4, 2011 at 13:54

2 Answers 2


The biblatex package offers features comparable to those of multibib. References from a single bib file can be subdivided using various options of \printbibliography. Examples include type, keyword and category. Refer to the biblatex manual for details. Prefixes to the labelnumber are specified with the prefixnumbers option.

Assuming each sub-bibliography has a unique prefix, descending label numbers can be obtained by altering the labelnumber field format so that it prints the value given by the total prefix-specific entry count, minus the actual labelnumber, plus one.





Filler text \cite{aksin,bertram,angenendt}.
Filler text \cite{chiu,padhye,moraux}.

enter image description here

This solution works with either backend, though with biber the "rerun LaTeX" messages in the log may not stabilize. In any case heed the warning; the first time the message disappears after recompiling should give the correct document.

  • 1
    Very nice, but when I try to also cite in the text, things seem a bit odd. I added this just after the \begin{document}: This is a test citation of \cite{aristotle:anima, knuth:ct} and \cite{ctan}. and it produced: This is a test citation of [P-2, K0] and [W0].
    – mankoff
    Dec 10, 2011 at 23:37
  • @mankoff Thanks for mentioning this issue. The original solution only worked with \nocite. I've made edits to fix this. Anticipate weird results if your categories aren't mutually exclusive.
    – Audrey
    Dec 11, 2011 at 0:29
  • @Audrey It seems to me that this solution cannot work with separate \printbibliography commands; but as I read the code I think that a user-level command for this would be possible as well. Would that be too much work (probably in order to process all \printbibliography options)? Sorry, but my low-level (la)tex skills are non-existent.
    – nplatis
    Feb 14, 2012 at 14:57
  • @nplatis Considering this again, I can see now why a solution that doesn't extend \bibbycategory would be useful. You might want to add some text between the bibliographies, for example. If you haven't found a solution already, I can post one for your question when I find some time. The above solution and the one I have in mind for you won't work for sortcites=true/numeric-comp and mixed-category citation lists, however.
    – Audrey
    Mar 21, 2012 at 21:44
  • @Audrey Thanks for the reply. That is what I had in mind when asking for separate \printbibliography commands. I have not found a solution yet, but I have not researched it too much.
    – nplatis
    Mar 22, 2012 at 17:09

I have a possible answer (possible because my installation crashed before I can test all of the features). It is relying, as mentionned, on biblatex, with biber as a backend.

In the preamble, you mention that you want to use biber as a back end (useful for tweaking the sorting), that you want to use the new sorting scheme you devised, and that you are going to play with the prefix in the bibliography.




At the end of the document, you are printing the different bibliographies with the help of keyword to differentiate between them.

\printbibliography[keyword=original,prefixnumbers=F,title=Original sources]

\printbibliography[keyword=known,prefixnumbers=B,title=Other sources]

I successfully managed to get the [F1], [F2] and then [B1] and [B2] behavior, but was not able to test the biber tweak due to crashing. However, I am fairly convinced that this is the way to go, due to previous experiments.

I am aware that this answer is not complete as it is not fully tested, but I wanted to launch it out so that people can play with it until I manage to repair my set-up (at work, where I have huge networking trouble, hence possible long duration before repair).

  • Did you have a chance to do any further testing? AFAIK this will give descending labelnumber to the citations, but prints the bibliography by ascending labelnumber.
    – Audrey
    Dec 10, 2011 at 21:57
  • I did not do any further testing yet. My config is still out and I can't use biber anymore at work. I could try at home, but I am finishing my thesis, and I don't want to jinx anything at this moment...
    – Martigan
    Dec 13, 2011 at 15:23
  • I've finally tested this implementation. It does not mimic the other answer. If the references are sorted newest-first (ascending?), then the numbers are 1..n (descending). Or vice-versa. This is a shame. This implementation is so much more compact than the other solution.
    – mankoff
    Jul 6, 2012 at 21:35

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