I am writing a homework at the moment. One of the authors I cite, changed his name from A... to B... due to marriage (I know him personally).

In the Bibliography I clearly should use the name given in the papers (sometimes A..., sometimes B...). But how should I refer to him in the text?

"B... also mentioned...[1,2]" or "A... also mentioned...[1,2]", where [1] lists him as A and [2] lists him as B.

I could imagine calling him B and remark in a footnote, his former name was A. What do you expercienced authors think about this?

2 Answers 2


I would distinguish between narrative and citation. In narrative text, it is best to refer to a person by their current most preferred scientific name. In citation, on the other hand, it is best to provide the information that will best guide lookup of the document in various search and databases.

When the two are not clearly connected, giving a footnote or parenthetical note will help make it clear to the reader that the difference is intended and not accidental, but it is not strictly required.

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    The part about "most preferred scientific name" deserves emphasis. In particular, when somebody changes their legal name, they don't necessarily change their scientific name. It's possible that although the OP's friend has changed his name for legal / social purposes, he may still be using the previous name for professional purposes, and for instance, intends to continue publishing under that name. The OP should check with their friend to see what he plans to use as a professional name. Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 19:38
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    @NateEldredge is spot on -- I've seen both options used, both in academia and insustry. In academia changing one's professional name is uncommon once a publication record is established.
    – Chris H
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 9:16
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    @Chris H: In the case of changing their gender (rather than simply getting married), most people change their names unless they were lucky enough to start out with a unigender name. Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 15:33
  • @PeterShor good point, though this question was about a name change through marriage.
    – Chris H
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 15:50

I agree with the answer above. Cite papers using the names they were published under, and add a footnote or other indication in the narrative tying together the apparently different authors in the citations. I once wasted a lot of time chasing a reference because the paper I got it from used the author's currently preferred scientific name in the bibliography, but the paper was actually published under a different name (the author had changed her scientific name in the meantime). It would have been much better if the citing paper had given the correct name that the paper was published under, with a note explaining that the two names belonged to the same person.

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    This seems more like an comment than an Answer. A Stack Exchange works best with distinct Answers that address some specific aspect of the Question not already addressed by other Answers. I suggest deleting your answer to avoid down-votes; re-post as a comment. One goal of a Stack Exchange is to avoid rambling repetitious discussions. Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 2:08
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    @Basil: Comments have a tendency to be deleted arbitrarily by overzealous moderators. I think this is significant enough that it could be left as an answer. Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 15:35

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