Suppose there are two authors Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton on a research paper. Is it OK to write them as A. Einstein and Isaac Newton or vice versa? Similarly, if there are more authors, is it OK to write initials of some of them and not all? If it is not OK, is it wrong and unacceptable, or bad?

My question is about writing the authors' names on the top, with the title of the paper.

  • 1
    Are you referring to writing their names in the body of the text, as citations, in the references? Do you have a particular citation style in mind? This question is lacking a few critical pieces of information.
    – Ian_Fin
    Dec 12, 2016 at 13:43
  • @Ian_Fin: ... or in the list of authors of the paper ... (unless you meant that by "in the body of the text"). Dec 12, 2016 at 13:48
  • 1
    My question is about writing the names on the top with the title of the paper.
    – Zobie
    Dec 12, 2016 at 13:58
  • 5
    In general, you should follow the journal's guidelines. Usually, a mix of abbreviated and full given names is not acceptable.
    – user9482
    Dec 12, 2016 at 14:03

3 Answers 3


Usually, this is determined by the style guidelines of the journal or conference, so all author names should be formatted in the same way. There are cases, however, where one author consistently uses an initial as his first name, or even, where an author has an initial as his first name, leading to a non-uniform formatting of authors' names (e.g., Deepak Kapur, G. Sivakumar, Hantao Zhang: A path ordering for proving termination of AC rewrite systems or Zhou Chaochen, C.A.R. Hoare, Anders P. Ravn: A calculus of durations).

  • 3
    This is the answer I was about to post. The most common case in my experience is when someone prefers to go by a middle name: "Lee Carlson" to their friends, "R. Lee Carlson" formal author credit. (Mr. Carlson was my high school math teacher. He refused to tell anyone what the R stood for.)
    – zwol
    Dec 12, 2016 at 19:38
  • I agree that one should look at the journal's guidelines for references/bib. I do disagree with comments that journals obsessively follow one or other standard. In the title/author list in APS/AIP journals they permit an author list to mix authors who use only their first intiitals and those who try to include the full first name. (However, what happens in the reference list is that typically initials will get used - but again while I'd have to check, I think I've seen it mixed.
    – Carol
    Dec 13, 2016 at 3:47

It's OK. It is generally each author's personal decision under which name they are listed on a paper. People have published scientific papers under pseudonyms, abbreviations, and as "anonymous authors". Possibly, some people will find inconsistent naming or deviations from the usual naming scheme weird, but it's really none of their business.


Following @lighthouse kepper's and @Uwe's answers I'd suggest:

If you are author of the article and submitting the manuscript then write full names of all the authors except for ones who want to use different naming. This way, the descision is on the journal's side and the preference was clearly stated.

If you are responsible for the visual style of the article then discuss it with your boss or more experienced colleagues what to do. Usually when there are few authors it is better to display full names, when there is a lot of authors listed, and "et.al." is not an option, use abbreviations. If someone submitted name with abbreviation only, use this name as defalut.

If you are referee and you was given such article to review, ignore it and focus on the article's content.

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