While I am writing the references for my paper, I usually copy and paste the bibliographic information and use it directly. AFAIK, most of them are in the full version, meaning that all the author names are spelled out, e.g. James Rhianna Smith. (They can be really long!).

Also given the fact that some conferences do have a page limit (e.g. 6 pages maximum), directly using those tedious full names is sometimes a luxury I cannot afford.

Under this type of circumstances, should I shorten the author names?

  • 1
    @PeterJansson I don't really agree. This isn't a technical question about BibTeX, but one about acceptable bibliographical practices. Oct 18, 2013 at 16:31
  • I've edited the question into a software-agnostic question about bibliographic practices
    – F'x
    Oct 18, 2013 at 17:06
  • 3
    At the risk of being off-topic, note that even if you decide to use only first initials, you should not need to manually edit your BibTeX file. Instead, choose a bibliography style that uses initials; BibTeX will abbreviate them automatically. Oct 18, 2013 at 19:50
  • @NateEldredge I don't think it is offtopic. The OP clearly doesn't know how to use BibTex properly. The answer to both the original and edited question is a simple: "NO!", and has nothing to do with page limits or conference formatting standards.
    – mankoff
    Oct 18, 2013 at 20:18

2 Answers 2


This is almost always dictated by the style guide of the journal/conference/whatever to which you're submitting. Check with them, or better yet, use a bibtex style definition file provided by them (e.g., IEEE).


Sure, why not? There's nothing wrong with using first initials consistently.

  • 4
    Depends on what (journal/thesis/conference/etc) style you're following…
    – F'x
    Oct 18, 2013 at 17:06
  • And what if two different authors have the same initials and last name?
    – JRN
    Oct 19, 2013 at 8:53
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    Well, and what if the full names are the same? This is merely an aggravation of an existing problem, not a new one, so whatever techniques you used before remain valid now as well.
    – fedja
    Oct 19, 2013 at 14:21
  • I just experimented with BibTeX and was surprised to find out that it treats authors with the same initials and last name as the same person even if the names have been spelled out. That is, it will treat Joel Reyes Noche and James Randi Noche as the same person. This means that my comment above is moot.
    – JRN
    Oct 20, 2013 at 7:56

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