Why are articles and books formatted differently in many citation styles? Proceedings, websites, theses and other works are also formatted in their own way.

It really looks very inconsistent and makes the bibliography harder to read. I know that this is a rather minor problem, but it would also not be too hard to fix it.

As an example, many citation styles look like this:


First Last. Title of the Work. Vol. 123. Series Name 456. Publisher Name, 2022


First Last. “Title of the Work”. In: Journal Name 123.456 (2022)


Title in quotes / italics and journal name in italics.

This means, one cannot just look for the italic words and have the title of the publication.

Other differences

  • Publisher is printed or not
  • Year is in parentheses or not
  • Formatting of the volume and number

You might argue that the publisher has a different importance for articles and books, but this does not explain the other inconsistencies.

Possible "Reasons" I can think of

  • Historical Reasons, but why is this not yet changed?
  • As a reader I am supposed to immediately tell whether this is an article or a book. But what do I do with this information?

Considered Citation Styles

The citation above is generated using BibLaTeX with the bibstyle=numeric. Considering other common citation styles in LaTeX only one does the formatting of book/article title consistently. The described behavior is however relatively independent from the citation style, as it occurs in APA, MLA, Chicago, ...

  • 5
    – Louic
    Jan 19, 2022 at 12:47
  • Books and articles typically have different publication/citation data, and the info you need to easily find the source is different.
    – Kimball
    Jan 19, 2022 at 14:09
  • I guess I've never had a problem decoding a bibliography, so I'm not sure just what you are getting at. There is learning needed, so early on it is more confusing than later, but it comes pretty quickly. Sure, if you want to easily make a program to automatically grab data, that is more difficult.
    – Jon Custer
    Jan 19, 2022 at 14:41
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    @JonCuster I also never had problems decoding a bibliography due to this. As I said it is a rather "minor problem". However, the fact that it can still be decoded is not really a reason to make it inconsistent. As these inconsistencies are shared among many citation styles, I thought there is a good reason.
    – A.Z.
    Jan 19, 2022 at 14:52
  • 1
    Tell you what, lets all settle on one language - that may be easier than one bibliography style...
    – Jon Custer
    Jan 19, 2022 at 14:54

1 Answer 1


Title in quotes / italics and journal name in italics.

This means, one cannot just look for the italic words and have the title of the publication.

You can, actually. The journal name is the name of the publication, and the article is an element in the publication. The title of the work is in italics, and subparts are quoted. Likewise, if you were citing a single chapter in a larger work, the name of the chapter would be quoted and the larger work in italics.

  • This answer matches what I do when I prepare a bibliography: Book and journal titles in italics; chapter and article titles in quotes. But I don't complain if a coauthor or journal does something different, as long as it's done consistently. Jan 19, 2022 at 16:54
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    @AndreasBlass Zotero just does it for me :shrug: Jan 19, 2022 at 17:12
  • Interesting point of view! It does not make me super happy as it still is inconsistent, but that might be (at least part of) the reason.
    – A.Z.
    Jan 19, 2022 at 18:46
  • @A.Z. Haha, it's not really a point of view, that's why it's done. Jan 19, 2022 at 19:59
  • @AzorAhai-him- Fair enough :) replace "point of view" by "point". I will accept your answer tomorrow if no other major comments/answers appear.
    – A.Z.
    Jan 19, 2022 at 21:37

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