I am aware that, on a CV, when listing publications that have co-authors, they are usually denoted using "*" symbol, but what if there are two sets of co-authors? For instance, there 3 co-first authors and 3 co-second authors. In that case, which symbol do I apply to first co authors and which symbol for the 2nd co-authors?

I don't have space to write this out in worse, I can only list it, so I want a clean way to do this.

  • What's a co-first author and a co-second author? (Similarly, what are co-first and co-second authors?) How are they distinguished from co-authors?
    – user2768
    Oct 3, 2018 at 7:02
  • 3
    As far as I know, there are "shared first authorships" and "shared last authorships" in medicine. Crazy enough. They are usually marked by symbols (no special ones, these are just explained below the affiliation section of the paper). The same is done for "shared corresponding authorships" that seem to pop up in all kind of research fields. That "shared second authorships" are a thing now seems even more crazy to me. But okay, if so, you should just use any kind of symbol and explain it. Oct 3, 2018 at 8:11
  • 5
    @user2768 In fields where authors are ordered by contribution, first authorship can be a big deal. As a consequence the second author is often assumed to have contributed (significantly) less, whether that holds true or not. A way around that is adding a note saying "these authors contributed equally", such that the first two authors are recognized as co-first. Co-second (and so on) is just the generalization to the next set of authors. They're all co-authors, as that term is more inclusive, and doesn't say anything about contribution level.
    – Anyon
    Oct 3, 2018 at 13:08

1 Answer 1


Like @FuzzyLeapFrog writes in a comment, you could use any symbol in your CV as long as you explain it, e.g. in a footnote. There is no clear standard as far as I know. Personally I'd use a parenthetical remark to point out that I'm a co-first author, but you say there's no space. In that case, I'd just use whatever symbols are commonly used in papers to denote affiliations or co-authorship in your field. Often this means typographical symbols called daggers that are used to denote footnotes after the asterisk has been used. The order tends to be

  1. Asterisk: *
  2. Dagger (or obelisk): †
  3. Double dagger (or diesis): ‡

In case you really want to go overboard with it, Wikipedia has a few suggestions for a fourth symbol, but there is no real convention for what the fourth symbol should be. Also note that the dagger symbol is sometimes used to indicate that the author passed away, so you may need to take some care with that in some contexts.


You must log in to answer this question.