Suppose that we have a citation style in which given names of authors are abbreviated in the bibliography, that is, either

Smith, A. B.: An interesting observation.


A. B. Smith: An interesting observation.

In this case, how should one handle an author who publishes under a name that includes a nickname in quotes? Something like

John A. “Jack” Miller

or even worse,

Walter ‘The Wizard’ Brown

Is there any style guide that covers such cases?

  • 1
    Do any authors really do that? I agree when you say "even worse". I would be interested to see the actual examples.
    – Oliver882
    Jan 31, 2023 at 19:23
  • @Oliver88 The actual example I've to deal with is dl.acm.org/doi/10.1561/1100000086 (Florian 'Floyd' Mueller). So far I've never seen the "even worse" variant; that's mere curiosity – hopefully.
    – Uwe
    Jan 31, 2023 at 19:45

3 Answers 3


I consult the APA Style Expert and one of their expert Stefanie tells me "A nickname in quotes in an author's name is represented by an initial for the nickname in quotes in the reference." in APA

In your example, that would be:

John A. “Jack” Miller -> Miller, J. A. "J."

Walter ‘The Wizard’ Brown -> Brown, W. 'T.'


There are cases where you do not need to invert the name and keep the full name of an author. For example, you do not need to abbreviate and invert names that consists of 'an inseparable multipart name' like 'Lady Gaga' or 'Malcolm X'. This is said in Section 9.8, Page 300 of Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th Ed. (2020).


Personally, I would stick with formal names and leave anything you see as a nickname off of the bibliographic reference. So W. Brown or Brown, W. is enough. The extra common name isn't needed to get to the paper, after all. And a single initial for such a name looks a bit odd.

In the body of the paper you might actually spell out their "moniker" if you like.

If an editor suggests otherwise, then follow their advice for that publication.


The example is of someone who has adopted an Anglicized name, probably because the person is tired of mis-pronunciation and maybe in this case, because the name is one associated with uncultured Bavarians. A similar practice is much more prevalent among Chinese Americans, who then face the problem under which name to publish.

I would just use the name exactly as they write it, since I am unaware of any rules regarding the use of alternative names. I would however restrain from calling it a nick-name, because I do not think that it is a capricious decision.

  • 2
    The question was how to write it in a bibliography in which given names are generally abbreviated. Would you use "F. Mueller", "F. 'F.' Mueller", "F. 'Floyd' Mueller", or what else?
    – Uwe
    Jan 31, 2023 at 21:21
  • One Vietnamese friend named Dung. Another named Phuoc. Masters in my taiji legacy have family name Dong. They use those names as they are rightfully proud of their accomplishments.
    – Buffy
    Jan 31, 2023 at 21:22
  • Amusing that "Florian" is considered uncultured ... it sounds goofily hoity-toity to me. Jan 31, 2023 at 22:17

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .