Tex Bibliography Style Natbib Author

Natbib uses the citation style associated with the corresponding bibliography style if no specific citation commands are declared. There are some additional commands to control some punctuation parameters. See the example below:

\documentclass{article}\usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}\usepackage[english]{babel}   %Import the natbib package and sets a bibliography and citation styles\usepackage{natbib}\bibliographystyle{abbrvnat}\setcitestyle{authoryear,open={((},close={))}}     \begin{document}   \section{First Section} This document is an example, Two items are cited: \textit{The \LaTeX\ Companion} book \cite[see][chap 2]{latexcompanion} and Einstein's journal paper \cite{einstein}.     %Imports the bibliography file "sample.bib"\bibliography{sample}   \end{document}

The specific command to format the citation style is:

The parameters, comma-separated, tell LaTeX to use the authoryear citation mode and use double parentheses as opening and closing marks. Below a list of possible parameters that can be passed to this command:

  • Citation mode: , or .
  • Brackets: or . You can manually set any other opening and closing characters with adn .
  • Citation separator: , .
  • Separator between author and year:
  • Separator between years with common author: <code>yysep={char}.
  • Text before post-note: .

The are other additional citation commands depending on the citation mode. For instance, in the example above the command takes two extra parameters; the first optional parameter see is printed before the citation mark and the second optional parameter chap 2 is printed after the citation mark. Below a table describing some additional citation commands:

command description
Textual citation
Parenthetical citation
Same as but if there are several authors, all names are printed
The same as but if there are several authors, all names are printed
Prints only the name of the authors(s)
Prints only the year of the publication.

For more information about the rest of the commands in this example see Bibliography management with natbib

  Open an example of the natbib package in ShareLaTeX

[edit] Further reading

\setcitestyle{authoryear, open={((},close={))}

This is a gentle introduction to using some of the bibliography functionality available to LaTeX users beyond the BibTeX basics. This introduction won't be discussing how to create new styles or packages but rather how to use some existing ones. It is worth noting that Harvard, for example, is a citation style. It is associated with an alphabetical reference list secondarily ordered on date, but the only strictly defined element of Harvard style is the citation in author-date format.

The example data[edit]

The database used for my examples contains just the following

@article{Erdos65, title = {Some very hard sums}, journal = {Difficult Maths Today}, author = {Paul Erd\H{o}s and Arend Heyting and Luitzen Egbertus Brouwer}, year = {1930}, pages = {30}}

The limits of BibTeX styles[edit]

Using cite.sty and BibTeX makes it very easy to produce some bibliography styles. But author-date styles - for example the often mentioned, never defined "Harvard" - are not so easy. It's true that you can download some .bst files from CTAN that will handle some variants but using them is not always straightforward. This guide deals with Natbib a supplementary package that can access .bib files and has sophisticated functionality for producing custom or default author-year format citations and bibliographies as well as the numerical styles handled by BibTeX.


Natbib is a package created by Patrick Daly as a replacement for the cite.sty package when author-date citation styles are required. Natbib provides three associated bibliography styles:

  • plainnat
  • abbrvnat
  • unsrtnat

which correspond to the three styles available by default in BibTeX where you have a plain numbered style, an abbreviated numbered style and an unsorted numbered style.

Alongside these new styles is an extended set of citation commands to provide flexible citation formats. These are


each of which has a number of variants.

The Preamble[edit]

All Natbib styles require that you load the package in your document preamble. So, a skeleton LaTeX file with Natbib might look like this:

\documentclass[]{article}\usepackage[round]{natbib}\begin{document} Document body text with citations. \bibliographystyle{plainnat}\bibliography{myrefs}\end{document}


Options available with Natbib can be specified in the brackets on the \usepackage command. Among them are:

semicolonseparate citations with ;
colonas semicolon
commaseparate with commas
authoryearauthor-year citations
numbersnumeric citations
supersuperscript citations
sortmultiple citations are ordered as in bibliography
sort&compressas sort but number ranges are compressed and hyphenated
compressnumber ranges are compressed and hyphenated but only where the 'natural' sort produces a continuous range
longnamesfirstfirst citation is full author list and subsequent citations are abbreviated
sectionbiballows multiple bibliographies in the same document
nonamebreakforces all author names onto one line
mergemerges a citation with a previous citation
elideelides any repeated elements in merged references
mciteignore merge

Clearly some of these options require explanation but that will be achieved via examples below. For now, we just note that they can be passed through \usepackage[]{} in the preamble of your LaTeX file.


Basic Citation Commands[edit]

To cite with Natbib, use the commands \citet or \citep in your document. The "plain" versions of these commands produced abbreviated lists in the case of multiple authors but both have * variants which result in full author listings. We assume the use of the round option in these examples.

\citet and \citet*[edit]

The \citet command is used for textual citations, that is to say that author names appear in the text outside of the parenthetical reference to the date of publication. This command can take options for chapter, page numbers etc. Here are examples

\citet{Erdos65}producesErdős et al. (1965)
\citet[chapter 2]{Erdos65}producesErdős et al. (1965, chapter 2)
\citet[pp. 10-12]{Erdos65}producesErdős et al. (1965, pp. 10-12)
\citet[see][chap. 2]{Erdos65}producesErdős et al. (see 1965, chap. 2)

Here are the \citet* versions

\citet*{Erdos65}producesErdős, Heyting and Brouwer (1965)
\citet*[chapter 2]{Erdos65}producesErdős, Heyting and Brouwer (1965, chapter 2)
\citet*[pp. 10-12]{Erdos65}producesErdős, Heyting and Brouwer (1965, pp. 10-12)
\citet*[see][chap. 2]{Erdos65}producesErdős, Heyting and Brouwer (see 1965, chap. 2)

\citep and \citep*[edit]

The \citep command is used where the author name is to appear inside the parentheses alongside the date.

\citep{Erdos65}produces(Erdős et al. 1965)
\citep[chapter 2]{Erdos65}produces(Erdős et al. 1965, chapter 2)
\citep[pp. 10-12]{Erdos65}produces(Erdős et al. 1965, pp. 10-12)
\citep[see][chap. 2]{Erdos65}produces(see Erdős et al. 1965, chap. 2)
\citep[e.g.][]{Erdos65}produces(e.g. Erdős et al. 1965)

Here are the \citep* versions

\citep*{Erdos65}produces(Erdős, Heyting and Brouwer 1965)
\citep*[chapter 2]{Erdos65}produces(Erdős, Heyting and Brouwer 1965, chapter 2)
\citep*[pp. 10-12]{Erdos65}produces(Erdős , Heyting and Brouwer 1965, pp. 10-12)
\citep*[see][chap. 2]{Erdos65}produces(see Erdős , Heyting and Brouwer, 1965, chap. 2)
\citep*[e.g.][]{Erdos65}produces(e.g. Erdős , Heyting and Brouwer, 1965)

The Reference List[edit]

Having dealt with basic varieties of citation, we turn to the creation of the bibliography or reference list.

Inserting a correct and correctly formatted bibliography when using Natbib is no different than when using plain BibTeX. There are two essential commands -


which LaTeX interprets as an instruction to read a bibliographic database file (eg myrefs.bib) and insert the relevant data here, and


which specifies how the data are to be presented.

Above the three basic Natbib styles were mentioned as analogues of the partially homonymous styles in BibTeX. Let us imagine documents bearing citations as in the section about citation above. Here is, approximately, how these citations would appear in plainnat.

What more is there?[edit]

This covers the basic functionality provided by the package Natbib. It may not, of course, provide what you are looking for. If you don't find what you want here then you should probably next investigate harvard.sty which provides a slighly different set of author-date citation functions. Providing a gentle guide to harvard.sty is my next rainy day project.

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