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I'm just had a look at my citations and they are in an aweful state. Most conference papers that I imported into my citation manager have different styles, e.g.:

IEEEE Conference on Emerging Txxx Bxxx Qxxxxxxx, 2009 (ETBQ 2009)
IEEEE Conference on Old Wxxx Yxxx Sxxxxxxx (OWYS), 2009
IEEEE Conference on Txxx Txxx Xxxxxxxx, 2009, (TTX 2009)
IEEEE Conference on Gold. 2009 (Chicago)

Am I allowed to bring all conferences into the same format?

What format would you recommend? Should I drop abbreviation, year, or place of the conference as it is repeated? I think the year might have to stay because e.g. a coference might be held in Dec. 2009 and the papers are only published in Feb. 2010, hence the 2009 date would be lost. I also like the abbreviation as it helps my to identify the coferences in one glimps.

Second question: Should I add "Proceeding of the" in front of every conference?

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    1: Drop an E in IEEEE. 2: Use whatever citation style is required for the paper you are writing. 3: Really. 4: If no style is imposed, put them all into the format you like best. – F'x Oct 18 '13 at 15:24
  • With everything said in the answers, of course only add "Proceeding of the" (or any of its abbreviations) if the proceedings are actually called like that. The fact that (w.l.o.g.) a book constitutes the proceedings of a conference does not automatically mean that the book title is actually "Proceedings of the ...". Likewise, do not make up any conference abbreviations - for example, by only using the first letter of each word from the full title - unless you can find evidence that it actually is the official conference abbreviation. – O. R. Mapper Oct 19 '14 at 22:01
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There is an important and unfortunate caveat for managing citations that I bring up because this refers to IEEE. In IEEE, ACM, and many other computer science and electrical engineering venues, it is often the case that there are strict page limits and the citations are counted toward that limit. This happens mostly with conferences, but sometimes even with journals.

Because of this, I often find it necessary to maintain both a "master" reference database and an ad hoc "abbreviated" copy of the database used for a particular paper. In the master database, I keep the full everything in all its bibliographic detail to the best of my ability. In the abbreviated copy, conference and journal names get shortened as necessary to purge the bibliography of widow and orphans and extract those last few lines necessary to get the text to fit. It's a nasty, undignified practice, and I consider it the lesser of two evils if it can preserve technical content without decreasing the ability of a reader to locate citations.

The ability to find the citation, though, is sacrosanct. Authors, title, year (and volume and issue if available), must never be trifled with. As such, the shortening targets that tend I use, in order, are:

  • "Proceedings of the..." can always go, as can the location of a conference.
  • "International Conference on" goes to "Int'l Conf. on" and then vanishes
  • Most EE/CS conference have acronyms: an exceedingly well-known conference can be entirely replaced by its acronym.

Thus, for example, "Proceedings of the 23rd International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Beijing, China" can ablate all the way down to "IJCAI", saving 1-2 lines in typical IEEE format bibliography. It's an ugly business, and maybe I shouldn't admit to it out loud on the internet, but it's a useful practice that I still find ethical as long as the spirit of readily locatable citation is preserved.

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    If you're using BibTeX, there's no need to keep separate full databases. You can give a short name to the journal (journal = JournalXY, for instance). Then, you can create two files. In one set of files, you can define string expansions (@string{JournalXY = "Journal of X Y") for long names and another with (@string{JournalXY = "J. X. Y.") for the shortened names. – aeismail Oct 18 '14 at 17:34
  • Ooh... that's an elegant use of macros that I hadn't thought of. Thank you - I think I may start doing that! – jakebeal Oct 18 '14 at 17:38
  • You're welcome. One more thing—don't forget to cite both files in your \bibliography command! – aeismail Oct 18 '14 at 17:40
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If you are publishing specifically with the IEEE then I would recommend looking at their Citation Reference Guide which also explains the way common words from conferences are abbreviated and what you should include.

For example, the word "Proceedings" is abbreviated to Proc., Conference to Conf. etc and a paper from a conference would look like this:

[1] J. K. Author, “Title of paper,” in Unabbreviated Name of Conf. , City of Conf., Abbrev. State (if given), year, pp. xxx-xxx.

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It is clear that the papers from the same publication should follow the same format. The proceedings or journal should provide a suggested reference format for the papers. This should point you to what is a correct way to reference them and format the entry in your database.

When you enter papers into a data base you should try to follow the suggested reference in terms of what information is suggested to be included. I use bibTeX and enter the full name of the publication. I can also provide the formal abbreviation of the journal since the format for references in journals vary, some use full names some use abbreviations. There is a data base for journal abbreviations established by ISI that should give you the correct abbreviated format for all. I assume many if not all reference managers have ways of handling full and abbreviated names, probably using full names as a standard. With proceedings that are not included in the list you ave to follow the suggestions from the proceedings and also use the correct abbreviations for specific words as suggested in the ISI data base.

Many authors do not know about the correct abbreviations, or do not bother to follow them, which causes confusion in databases. I have papers that occur under up to 4 different posts because of inappropriate journal names, wrong volume or page numbers etc.

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    There is a data base for journal abbreviations established by ISI that should give you the correct abbreviated format for all.Not even close. Abbreviations of venues in my research area are way off, and most conference proceedings are not listed at all. – JeffE Oct 18 '13 at 18:29
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As conferences are very important for computer science, here is this list on wikipedia. And at the end it also lists conference acronyms from LNCS series published by Springer (LNCS publishes roughly half of CS conferences). This link lists correct names for IEEE conferences, and this link lists those for ACM conferences. All-together, those would cover 85% of conferences in Computer Science:)

Personally, I would advise to not go for journal-like shortening of conf names, which is IMHO last century, now we don't have a problem of storing longer strings in the database:)

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"Am I allowed to bring all conferences into the same format?": Yes, please do it, and please make sure that you always give the abbreviation, because this is the only way to easily recognise the conferences.

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