In my bibliography I use the names of the authors as they are given in the publication. Usually this will be the last name, the first name not abbreviated and second names abbreviated. However, I now have the following problems:

  1. For some authors I only have publications with their first name abbreviated.
  2. Some authors have their first name abbreviated in some publications and in others not. This leads to the strange result that I have them in the bibliography with their first name abbreviated only sometimes.

Should I try to get/use the not abbreviated first names for consistency or leave the names as they are given in the publications?

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    @JoelReyesNoche: It is certainly related to, if not a special case of Should I cite author names as they appear in the journal or as I know them to be complete? Dec 29, 2015 at 12:59
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    @O.R.Mapper I'm sorry I missed that one. However, the bottom line of the discussion in that post is a non consensus between "respect the authors choice", "be consistent in your own work" and "try to be as complete as possible". So I can decide now what's the best solution for me ;) Dec 29, 2015 at 13:11
  • @O.R.Mapper, thanks. It is related, but I don't think it is an exact duplicate.
    – JRN
    Dec 29, 2015 at 13:11
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    The busy person solution to retain consistency is abbreviating everything. Figuring out the first name of everyone you cite in your thesis takes a lot of time, for a very limited benefit. Dec 29, 2015 at 14:34
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    @vonbrand My bibliographies usually contain title, journal, issue, page numbers, author surnames and initials, and often a DOI. I don't think there is any room left for ambiguities. Dec 29, 2015 at 23:07

1 Answer 1


At the end of the day this all boils down to opinion and you already gave the most important argument yourself: Usually, the only way to obtain consistency is to abbreviate all first names. If you try to use unabbreviated names even when the journal doesn’t, you will eventually run into a case where you cannot find out an author’s full first name by any reasonable means.

All journals that I am aware of adhere to such a citation style, so you would be in good company abbreviating first names. Moreover, such a citation style would not arise if it would lead to any practical problems. In fact, knowing an author’s full first name rarely accelerates finding a cited publication, and if then only by a little. I cannot imagine a situation where the first name would actually be necessary to find or identify a properly cited paper – you always have page numbers or similar to resolve potential ambiguities.

  • Thank you for your comment. The only thing which is a bit more difficult when abbreviating first names is to search for the author lets say because you would like to find her/his academic website for further information. However, as the bibliography is not intended to be used in that way in the first place it's not an argument against abbreviation. Dec 30, 2015 at 13:12

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