We recently submitted a paper, and now I'm creating some slides about it for future presentation. There are papers that we have cited in our paper and I need to cite them in slides too because they are directly related to our work. What I would like to do is inline citing when you just mention author's name, or conference name, or the year. I have seen works in which what is mentioned is the first author's family name, e.g. (Patterson, 2013). And I've seen those who just mention conference name and year, e.g. (PPoPP, 2012).

I want to know which one is more appropriate, or actually correct? Where to use one, and where to use the other? Or should I use something different?


3 Answers 3


As an applied mathematician, I like to go for the format [Author1, Author2 JST '99], where "JST" is an abbreviation for the journal. I truncate longer author lists with et al, and add initials in some cases to reduce ambiguity [Li RC, Guo CH, LAA '05]. With the help of a macro, I put the citations in square brackets (following the LaTeX usage), in a different color (dark grey) and font (\small/\footnotesize).

Of course every solution to this problem is a compromise between brevity, readability and googleability, but it seems to me that this one works well in my field.


Well, in my field, it's certainly the habit to mention only the authors and the year, unless it's really old. So I would have

Theorem [Doe, Soe, 2010; Smith 1997] There is ...

The reasons are:

  • If someone needs the full citation, he has the proceedings / book of abstracts.

  • The only interesting things in the citation are:

    1. It's not your result, you borrow it from elsewhere
    2. Which people did it -- quite likely you have some of them in the auditorium, they can get upset if you don't credit them, and they'll be pleased if you point them out.
    3. How old is it -- is it something known for years, or is it a "hot result"?

If you publish the presentation online after the conference, it might be a good habit to add the whole bibliography of the proceedings as a last slide. It can be in a small font since it's only for people to read it on the computer.

The key of a talk is not to be precise, but to show the most relevant information!


My suggestion is probably not applicable to presentations using a lot of citations, or using them on a lot of pages (but then, I think a good presentation shouldn't cite too much, so it's okay).

In addition to using whichever citation style best works for you ( (Smith, 1995), [Smith et. al., CSJ, 2007]*, or even just [1] ), plus changing the text color sounds like a good idea, why don't you add the expanded citation in the slide footnote in a smaller font? If it's not more than 1-2 or maybe 3 cites per slide, on no more than a few slides, it could work nicely and even allow you to use the basic [1], [2,3] citation style.

Also it could be a good idea to include the list of most important citations on the last slide (maybe not showing it in the presentation, but useful for possible questions).

Something like this: :)
* Smith, Jones and Doe: "Very important article", Cool Science Journal, 2007
[1] Jones and Smith: "Yet another important article", 2000

  • Why don't you do that? For the same reason why you have all text on slides so huge: Either people can't read it at all, or they can, but they concentrate on reading the footnote instead of listening to you.
    – yo'
    Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 13:59
  • 2
    Well, it is an oral presentation, and you can point out (or even write, as you suggested) the important name and year. Not everybody will look towards the footnote, and I don't see the harm putting them there for those that are possibly really interested in the reference. When I was composing a table-slide for several methods, their names did not fit in the table at all, and the footnote solution worked quite fine.
    – penelope
    Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 14:05

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