Presume that these mainstays (even if their names are short) can all be named publicly.

I fancy referring to them only with my abbreviations that I introduce on the first page, to save space and avoid typos, like for long surnames (e.g. some Indian, Polish, and Russian mathematicians).

E.g., I'd state my abbreviations of Iannis Xenakis as IXS, Jean Barraqué as JB, and Per Nørgård as PN (I chose the latter because of its 2 accents). Then I'd write:

IXS won the Polar Music Prize in 1999, but fewer prizes than PN. JB won none.

  • 2
    Please note that aside from the issue of abbreviating names, the grammar of your proposed sentence is abysmal.
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 6:46
  • @BenVoigt 'the grammar of your proposed sentence is abysmal' How? I adedd a missing word.
    – user13306
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 5:44
  • One word makes a huge difference. It still is somewhat inconsistent, though. The introductory sentence mentions a prize by name, not how many. But the conjunctive clause talks about the number. In context, that's ambiguous. Fewer prizes the same year? Fewer years winning the same prize? Fewer when both year and prize are varied
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 6:37

2 Answers 2


I've never seen this in academic writing, ever. At minimum it will be confusing, and some people might find it rude to obscure people's names like this.

Don't do it. Just write out the surnames on each reference. If they're long, so be it.

If your main goal is to avoid keystrokes and typos, use an autocomplete or "abbrev" feature of your word processor or text editor, or some sort of macro expansion. But don't impose it on the reader.

(I think in some fields it might be acceptable to refer to authors of the paper this way. "One of us (NE) previously investigated this question..." And in some cases, you see initials used to refer to individuals who are anonymous, such as patients or study participants. "R.Z. is a 59-year old female who presented with shortness of breath..." But I've never seen initials used for non-anonymous third parties as you suggest.)

  • 1
    Agreed, with a footnote: abbreviations like this are sometimes used to refer to standard works, like LSJ for the Liddell-Scott-Jones Greek English lexicon or BDB for Brown-Driver-Briggs. But those would be journal guidelines, you don't usually introduce your own. Also, if you use a reference manager the accents shouldn't be an issue.
    – user25112
    Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 23:28
  • @Nate Thanks for the savvy observation in your last para. I added a 1st para. to address this.
    – user13306
    Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 23:32
  • When journals require a list of "who did what" these abbreviations are often used . (AB derived the experiment design, CD and EF conducted the experiments, GH helped with statistical analysis,...)
    – skymningen
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 10:40

I agree 100% with Nate's response, but I'd like to expand on why it might be considered rude to do this.

I don't speak Danish. If I'm citing a researcher with a name like "Nørgård", it's probably because our hypothetical Dr. Nørgård spent many hours learning a second language and went to the trouble of publishing their research in English. They may even have paid a translation/editing service to help with that.

I find it tough enough writing or understanding academic papers in my own language (English). That so many researchers do it in a non-preferred language is a massive gift to me. Taking the trouble to figure out how to write (or paste) "Dr. Nørgård" is a very small way to remind myself of that gift and to express my respect for their effort.


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