Suppose that a bibliography contains two entries by the same author, published in the same year (and for the sake of simplicity, with no coauthors). Which order should they be listed in? At least three possibilities come to mind, and as this link shows at least two are considered in practice:

  1. (Alphabetical) In alphabetical order, depending on the titles of the papers.

  2. (Historical) In order of appearence, taking into account months and days of publication.

  3. (Logical) In the order which makes the most logical sense, so that if paper B uses results from paper A then A appears before B.

Which of these is the most widely accepted / the most formally correct?

One instance where this question often comes up for me in practice is when writting a CV. Is there a difference between a publication list of a single person and a bibliography that happens to include two or more papers by the same author?

  • 2
    For papers: Whatever order BibTeX outputs. If the copy-editors care, they'll change the order themselves (but they usually don't).
    – JeffE
    Commented Jul 9, 2018 at 20:30

3 Answers 3


For a CV, it seems that a widely accepted rule of thumb is that the order of publications is inverse-chronological, i.e. one lists the latest papers first, and moves on with older ones:

Author, title1, ..., 2018

Author, title2, ..., 2016

Author, title3, ..., 2016

Author, title4, ..., 2015


In case of journal articles, I've never encountered option 1. (alphabetical). (In fact, I've never encountered this case at all) For the others:

  1. (Historical) When the citation style is (Author, year) - then the citations in the list of references are sorted chronologically, and in the text it might happen (and is fine) that e.g. (Author, 2018) will be cited before (Author, 1990).
  2. (Logical) When the citation style is [1,2] - then the list of references is sorted by the order of appearance in the manuscript, e.g. Author's 2018 can be [1], and Author's 1990 paper can be [79] (or vice versa).

Although, each journal has its own policy regarding the citation style and ordering of the references in the reference list. If the journal has a LaTeX template, then you let it do all the work for you. In case of issues/inconsistencies - the editorial office handles the final typesetting.

  • Many thanks for the answer! Your examples suggest that you might have missed part of the question: "published in the same year". If the years are different, the order is clear, as far as I understand it. Commented Jul 9, 2018 at 19:26
  • @JakubKonieczny You said yourself "taking into account months and days of publication". I intended to draw the big picture.
    – user68958
    Commented Jul 9, 2018 at 19:40
  • In mathematics, citations of the form [17] are quite common, but these numbers, which match the order in the bibliography at the end of the paper, are not in order of appearance in the text but rather in alphabetical order by author (or set of authors) and chronological for papers by the same author (set). Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 2:19

How to cite them in a bibliography depends entirely on the citation and bibliography style of the journal or publisher responsible for the material in question.

If you have a style where everything is listed in alphabetical order, and assuming that the years are identical then you could decide either using alphabetical order of the title as a "tiebreaker." However, some publications would recommend listing the bibliography items in the order in which the works are mentioned in the text.


If it is for the journal article, you should not be concerned with the order, instead, you should cite the relevant papers in the natural flow of order.

For example, in paper A author says that using ABC technique certain problem can be solved while the conventional XYZ technique fails. Lets say paper A was published in 2017. Later in paper B by the same author, published in 2018, he proves that technique XYZ has such and such and such flaws.

Then the natural order would be e.g. "In [B], it was demonstrated that XYZ produces inadequate results under normal circumstances. The same authors have proposed in [A] that using ABC technique, such these inadequacies could be removed and performance enhancement of 80% could be achieved."

Just an example from the top of my mind. But note that this does not follow

(i) Alphabetical order

(ii) Timing of publication.

Hope this helps.

  • 1
    But the question was about the order in the bibliography, not the order they were cited. Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 5:57

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