Biblatex Change Bibliography Style

I'll start with a few words of caution. First, while most of the following tips should also be applicable for custom CTAN styles, my focus is on the standard styles that ship with . Second, these guidelines are about easy-to-medium modifications; for the trickier stuff look at some of the other questions at (or ask your own one).


As newer versions of were released, customizations that formerly required redefining internal macros (or at least changing settings mid-document) have become package options settable in the preamble. Here's how to do some often-requested tweaks:

  • will render all first and middle names as initials. (Introduced in v0.8, renamed in v3.3, is called in pre-3.3 versions)

  • will suppress any fields included in your file. (It works the same way for , and .) (Introduced in v0.9)

  • (available for the , , and bibliography styles) will print recurring author/editor names instead of replacing them by a dash. (Introduced in v0.9)

  • will print complete name lists for multi-author/editor works in the bibliography while truncating those lists for in-text citations. (Introduced in v1.1)

Now, where to put actual customization macros? As you don't want to create a full-fledged custom style, I recommend to use the configuration file . This file, if available, is read by immediately after a style has been loaded. The (empty) original is located at in your TeX distribution directory; put a copy in the analogous location of your local TEXMF tree (and update your file database) and fill it with the redefinitions I'm (finally!) going to talk about.

Addendum: You may also specify preamble options (but not bibliography/citation styles or compatibility modules) via the configuration file. Put the following into :

Suppressing of specific BibTeX fields

For & friends, see the introduction. Generally, differentiates between name lists, literal lists, and other fields, and different macros have to be applied to suppress those field categories. Should you, e.g., want to remove the , , and fields from the bibliography, add the following to your local copy of :

See sections 2.2.1 and 2.2.2 of the manual for a complete list of fields and the categories they belong to. To suppress specific fields for in-text-citations (e.g., when using the style), use instead of .

Formatting of fields (and of citation postnotes)

As a general rule, inspect the "Field Formats" section of the file (location: see above). With regard to the example given in your question, look for the following:

This means that for (and a bunch of other entry types), the field is put inside quotation marks. ( stands for the value of the field, prevents double punctuation.) In your local , change the last part from to , and you're set with regard to the bibliography. In case your "parent" style prints titles as part of in-text-citations, you'll have to modify the field in the same way.

For the formatting of citation postnotes, the same principles as above apply, so I'll just post the solution to your actual question. ;-)

Bibliography – spacing and punctuation

Section 3.10.1 "Generic [Formatting] Commands and Hooks" of the manual provides the basics, the "Formatting Commands" section of contains the actual macros. With regard to your example question (How to replace unit-separator periods with commas?),

needs to be redefined (using !) as

Bibliography – order of first names and last names

The standard styles shipped with use two different name formats for the bibliography: (used by and ) and (used by , , and ). (In-text-citations are the domain of a third name format, .) These name formats in turn utilize auxiliary macros such as

  • : lead author of multi-author works is printed as "last name – first name", follow-up authors are printed as "first name – last name";

  • : all authors are printed as "last name – first name";

  • : you guessed it.

To change the name format for, say, the bibliography style (by default ) to, say, , apply the following:

These name formats were renamed in version 3.3, see Biblatex 3.3 name formatting, before version 3.3 was , and was in the above. The old names continue to work, but generate warnings; the new names should be used.

Bibliography – order of certain fields

Let's delve into the files and , both of them located in the subdirectory of your folder. As per your question, you want to swap the and fields. Suppose you encounter the following code snippet in :

Copy-pasting this definition to your local copy of and swapping the respective code lines should be a piece of cake, right? Wrong! While the "bibliography driver" shown above is functional (the example is taken from section 4.2.3 of the manual), the actual drivers are much more complex. They regularly use macros to print specific name lists, literal lists, or fields, and the macro definitions of may be modified by . Assuming your parent style is , tracing the drivers and macros will bring forth the following definition:

Note the macro which will print either a comma or a colon, depending on whether the list is defined. (The macro will only print its argument if the last printing command did actually print anything.) A possible redefinition – and the answer to your question – would be

By the way, redefining will (and for the sake of consistency should) affect other entry types besides .

Language-specific terms

To change these, you need to modify the "localization keys" listed in section 4.9.2 of the manual. With regard to your example question, the following code does the trick:

(Actually, a long and a short form is assigned to every localization key. However, with it is not possible to separately override these two expressions.)

Afterword features a lot of questions/answers about customizing , with the solutions spanning everything from cute and simple macro redefinitions to venturous hacking of internals. Some notable ones (no claim to be complete):

Finally, here's a real-world example of tinkering with bibliography drivers.

Biblatex provides several standard citations styles, if no citation style is set LaTeX uses the one that matches the bibliography style. Below you can see an example:

\documentclass{article}\usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}\usepackage[english]{babel}   \usepackage[ backend=biber, style=alphabetic, citestyle=authoryear ]{biblatex}   \addbibresource{sample.bib}%Imports bibliography file   \begin{document}\section{First section}   This document is an example, two items are cited: \textit{The \LaTeX\ Companion} book is \cite{latexcompanion}, and Einstein's journal paper is \cite{einstein}.   \medskip   \printbibliography\end{document}

The parameter passed to the command that imports biblatex is the one that sets the citation style, in this case authoryear. The standard citation styles are:

  • Implements a numeric citation scheme intended for in-text citations. Should be employed in conjunction with the numeric bibliography style.
  • Compact variant of the mode. Citations like [1, 2, 3] are replaced by [1-3].
  • Verbose variant of the style. Instead of [2, 5, 7] will print [2];[5];[7].
  • Alphabetic citation scheme similar to the standard in style bibtex. To be used in conjunction with the alphabetic bibliography style.
  • Verbose version of the style. Instead of [Doe98, Doe95, Farn2004] will print [Doe98];[Doe95];[Farn2004].
  • Implements the author-year citation scheme. To be used in conjunction with the author-year bibliography style.
  • Compact variant of the style. Prints the author only once if subsequent references passed to a single citation command share the same author. Prints Doe 1992, 1995 instead of Doe 1992, Doe 1995.
  • A variant of the intended for footnote citations. Replaces repeated citations by the abbreviation ibidem.
  • A style combining the features of and
  • Implements the author-title scheme. Intended for citations given in footnotes.
  • Compact variant of . Instead of Doe, First title; Doe, Second title this will print Doe, First title, Second title.
  • A variant of the intended for footnote citations. Replaces repeated citations by the abbreviation ibidem.
  • A style combining and .
  • Variant of that only prints the title if the bibliography contains more than one work of the respective author/editor.
  • Style combining and .
  • Style combining and .
  • Citation style that prints a full citation when the entry is cited for the first time and a short version afterwards.
  • Citation style that goes with the bibliography style by the same name. Loads the style.

There are other non-standard citation styles popular in different journals and thesis

  • In Sciences:
    • American Chemical Society (ACS) style
    • American Institute of Physics (AIP) style
    • American Mathematical Society (AMS) style
    • Vancouver system
    • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) style
    • Nature style
    • Science style
  • In Humanities:
    • Chicago Style
    • Harvard referencing style
    • MLA style
  • In Socials:
    • American Psychological Association (APA) style
Citation style stylename
AIP (*)

(*) this is a new style, see

  Open an example of the biblatex package in ShareLaTeX

[edit] Further reading

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