I'm currently preparing a paper for a conference and I'm struggling a bit to stay within the page limit imposed by the Latex layout of this conference. I'm trying to make some extra space for my content without having to use any Latex related tricks (like reducing margin sizes, font sizes, etc...) as this would probably just annoy the reviewers.

Instead, I'm trying to reduce the size of the references by removing unnecessary contents. However, the question is: What is actually unnecessary?

I consider the following to be essential:

  • Name(s) of the author(s)
  • Title of publication
  • Date of publication
  • Journal or conference of the publication
  • Page number if the publication was published in a book or proceedings volumes

But what about additional information like DOIs, keywords, abstracts, etc...? Could I safely remove those items to save space?

Thank you very much for your input.

  • 14
    Your text is too long, not your bibliography. Use fewer words. – JeffE Mar 26 at 13:54
  • 2
    This helps a lot cutting some excess text from the bibliography: IEEE abbreviations for Transactions, Journals, Letters: technicalghostwriters.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/… But surprisingly, I just got asked by the typesetting service of the journal where I just got my work accepted to provide the editors and locations for all the conference papers in my bibliography; I've never included that info before and didn't know it was required (and, apparently, most journals/conferences, it is not) – penelope Mar 26 at 14:00
  • 3
    @orithena Yes, the references are counted indeed. – Hagbard Mar 26 at 14:50
  • 3
    I've never heard about "abstracts" in a reference. What field is this ? – Marianne013 Mar 26 at 17:03
  • 1
    I agree with @Marianne013 that abstracts don't normally occur in references. Nor do keywords. DOIs sometimes occur, but certainly not always. Titles of journals can be abbreviated. In mathematics, the abbreviations used in MatSciNet are a de facto standard; I don't know whether other fields have something similar. – Andreas Blass Mar 26 at 22:55

What information is mandatory depends on the applied reference style, e.g. APA6 oder Chicago Style. The reference style even sets the number of authors listed maximum in the reference. Most of the times, the journal/conference sets the reference style you have to apply.

Usually, the mandatory information for journal/conference papers includes:

  • Author(s) name(s)
  • Title
  • Year
  • Journal/Conference name
  • Page number
  • DOI

The only real option to shorten anything is to use the abbreviations of journals/conferences. But the applied reference style might even prevent this trick.

  • 6
    I don't know that the DOI is usually mandatory; in my area (machine learning), these sections are usually not counted against the page limit, but even so DOIs are almost never included, page numbers are a maybe, and abbreviated venue names are the norm (usually just ICML, not International Conference on Machine Learning, and only Proceedings of the 35th International Conference on Machine Learning when someone has clearly just copy-pasted a bib entry from Google Scholar). – Dougal Mar 26 at 16:42
  • @Dougal DOIs are getting more and more mandatory since they uniquely identify a publication precisely and are persistent. All other information (e.g. journal, year and title) is like the adress of an object (e.g. country, city, street) while the DOI is like the geo tag pointing exactly to where you wanna go. That's why more and more publishers request DOIs in references. Additionally, DOIs are much easier usable to identify citations to a publication. If you use the DOI, algorithms (like the one of Web of Sience) easily track the citation correctly. – FuzzyLeapfrog Mar 26 at 18:31
  • 3
    I agree with you in theory, but I'm just saying that in practice, in my field, I don't think I've literally ever seen a paper use them. (They also tend to look awful in typical bibtex formats.) – Dougal Mar 26 at 19:07
  • @Dougal In my fields (atmospheric science and information science) DOIs are nearly in every reference. This also applies to a lot of other fields in my STEM institution. There are exceptions but they are getting more and more rare and they vary over disciplines. My impression is that the exceptions can mainly be found in conference proceedings but are getting rare even there. In the end, the reference style of the journal/conference decides what is mandatory but if one can choose, I'd always include the DOI. Readers will be happy and the cited authors, too. – FuzzyLeapfrog Mar 26 at 19:19
  • This is very field, or even better – journal dependent. In many journals in my field the references look like this: Abbott, B. P., Abbott, R., Abbott, T. D., et al. 2017a, ApJL, 848, L12 – and the name of the journal is a hyperlink directly to the referenced article. So, title is not mandatory, and in only a few journals that I routinely scan there are titles in the bibliography. – corey979 Mar 26 at 21:08

Does the venue impose a particular bibliography format? If not: I'd consider DOIs useful but not obligatory, and I've never seen a plain bibliography with abstracts and keywords (that would be an annotated bibliography).

  • 3
    In theory, if it exists just giving a DOI might actually be a shorter unique identifier than the author names, title, year and journal. I can't see any reputable conference accepting it though. – origimbo Mar 26 at 11:43
  • Yes, a particular format is imposed but it doesn't apply any restrictions on the exact content, only on the layout of each reference. – Hagbard Mar 26 at 12:27

Many journals/conferences impose style requirements on in-text citations and reference lists. If left to your own style, the standard goal is for the in-text citations to uniquely refer to a single item in the reference list. You might be able to save a couple of characters if the in-text citation refers to a group of items, but don't do this. Numeric in-text citations tend to take up less space than author-year and label based styles.

For the reference list, the goal is for each reference to refer uniquely to a single published item. The DOI alone would accomplish this, but might be more characters than the journal, volume, and page number. The authors, title and year, are almost always redundant and require more characters than the journal, volume and page number. It is important to realize that most people want a little more than the minimum and like to see the author and title.

  1. Use a smaller font for the references (if not already doing that). But I appreciate your not lowering the font of the main text.

  2. Use ISI journal title abbreviations. See here: https://www.library.caltech.edu/journal-title-abbreviations

  3. Omit the title of journal articles.

  4. Use "et al." if more than 2 authors.

  5. Deh-fuh-nitely avoid DOI or other reference cruft.

  6. I don't understand why you would EVER list keywords or abstracts of CITED articles. However, if you are talking about your own keywords and abstract...no keep them, they are huge information content. But just be very efficient in how much you write.

Note: for 2 and 3, my preference if you are unlimited in space is to include them as they are a significant aid to readers, especially 3. However, they are not really needed to find the content. AND it is normal in ACS, APS, etc. journals to go with the terser format. (This was normal when journals were printed because of the need for higher information density. You are in a somewhat similar situation here. Another context would be if you have a 2 page memo to submit for a grant.) As for 5, I actually dislike the modern emphasis on various computer databases ISBN, etc. In any case, if you are pressed for space, it is one more reason to cut them.

  • Even though many other answers here are in favour of including the DOI, I tend to agree with you not to use it as it doesn't seem to be very common in my field (computer science). – Hagbard Mar 27 at 9:24

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