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‘Multi-letter’ initials in BibTeX

If your bibliographic style uses initials + surname, you may encounter a problem with some transcribed names (for example, Russian ones). Consider the following example from the real world:

   author = {Epifanov, S. Yu. and Vigasin, A. A.},
   title  = ...

Note that the “Yu” is the initial, not a complete name. However, BibTeX’s algorithms will leave you with a citation — slightly depending on the bibliographic style — that reads: “S. Y. Epifanov and A. A. Vigasin, …”. instead of the intended “S. Yu. Epifanov and A. A. Vigasin, …”.

One solution is to replace each affected initial by a command that prints the correct combination. To keep your bibliography portable, you need to add that command to your bibliography with the @preamble directive:

@preamble{ {\providecommand{\BIBYu}{Yu} } }

   author   = {Epifanov, S. {\BIBYu}. and Vigasin, A. A.},
   title    = ...

If you have many such commands, you may want to put them in a separate file and \input that LaTeX file in a @preamble directive.

An alternative is to make the transcription look like an accent, from BibTeX’s point of view. For this we need a control sequence that does nothing:

   author   = {Epifanov, S. {\relax Yu}. and Vigasin, A. A.},
   title    = ...

Like the solution by generating extra commands, this involves tedious extra typing; which of the two techniques is preferable for a given bibliography will be determined by the names in it. It should be noted that a preamble that introduces lots of odd commands is usually undesirable if the bibliography is a shared one.

“Compound” initials (for single names made up of two or more words) may be treated in the same way, so one can enter Forster’s rather complicated name as:

  author   = {Forster, P.M. {\relax de F.} and Collins, M.},
  title    = ...

The same trick can be played if you’re entering whole names:

  author   = {Epifanov, Sasha {\relax Yu}ri and

(though no guarantee, that either of those names is right, is offered!) However, if you’re typing the names in the “natural” (Western) way, with given names first, the trick:

  author   = {P.M. {\relax de F.} Forster and

doesn’t work — “de F. Forster” is treated as a compound family names.

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URL for this question: http://www.tex.ac.uk/cgi-bin/texfaq2html?label=bibtranscinit

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This is FAQ version 3.28, released on 2014-06-10.