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Suppose I have the following references to literature:

  • Miller, H. (1999): … Referred to as: Miller (1999)
  • Miller, F., & Smith, J. (2002): … Referred to as: Miller & Smith (2002)
  • Miller, A., & Smith, J. (2003): … Referred to as: Miller & Smith (2003)
  • Miller, B., Smith, J., & Jones, K. (2001): … Referred to as: Miller et al. (2001)
  • Miller, B., Jones, K., & Smith, J. (2004): … Referred to as: Miller et al. (2004)

How to sort those entries?

“Logic” (?) says to first use

  • Miller, A., & Smith, J. (2003): … Referred to as: Miller & Smith (2003)

because all authors are “Millers” but Arthur’s given name begins with the first letter of the alphabet.

  • Miller, B., Jones, K., & Smith, J. (2004): … Referred to as: Miller et al. (2004)

would follow, because “B” comes after “A” and “Jones” before “Smith”,

  • Miller, B., Smith, J., & Jones, K. (2001): … Referred to as: Miller et al. (2001)
  • Miller, F., & Smith, J. (2002): … Referred to as: Miller & Smith (2002)

and

  • Miller, H. (1999): … Referred to as: Miller (1999)

would follow.

On the other hand, practically would sort as follows:

  • Miller, H. (1999): … Referred to as: Miller (1999)

because this is a “one author reference”.

  • Miller, F., & Smith, J. (2002): … Referred to as: Miller & Smith (2002)

Before

  • Miller, A., & Smith, J. (2003): … Referred to as: Miller & Smith (2003)

Because these are two-author references and “Miller & Smith (2002)” is chronologically before “Miller & Smith (2003)”. From the reference “Miller & Smith” the given names are not known to the reader (before looking in the references), thus sorting after the known year would make sense. Therefore also

  • Miller, B., Smith, J., & Jones, K. (2001): … Referred to as: Miller et al. (2001)

would go before

  • Miller, B., Jones, K., & Smith, J. (2004): … Referred to as: Miller et al. (2004)

Which sorting order is “better”/more common? Or is there another sort of ordering which makes more sense?!

There is no style guide, required format, standard or something like that for the planned publication.

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3  
Where is this being published? Have you asked to see if there are existing standards? –  Lauren Ipsum Oct 29 '13 at 22:09

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

You haven't mentioned the style guide you're following; different guides have different rules.

For Turabian / Chicago Style, the rules applicable are:

A single-author entry precedes a multiauthor entry beginning with the same name.

and

Successive entries by two or more authors in which only the first author’s name is the same are alphabetized according to the coauthors’ last names (regardless of how many coauthors there are).

These rules order your list; since every entry has a different set of authors, chronology doesn't come into it. The order you want (if you are following Chicago style) is:

Miller, H. (1999): … Referred to as: Miller (1999)
Miller, A., & Smith, J. (2003): … Referred to as: Miller & Smith (2003)
Miller, B., Jones, K., & Smith, J. (2004): … Referred to as: Miller et al. (2004)
Miller, B., Smith, J., & Jones, K. (2001): … Referred to as: Miller et al. (2001)
Miller, F., & Smith, J. (2002): … Referred to as: Miller & Smith (2002)
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Thanks, now I understand the Turabian/Chicago Style. Where could I find information about possible other styles (and about how do they work, how common are they,...)? –  Burgmeister Oct 30 '13 at 9:49
1  
There are lots - see the sidebar on the right hand side of this wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Style_guide ... usually a publication has a preference for one or another. Some have their own unique style guides. The important thing (as Lauren Ipsum pointed out in a comment to your question) is to use the one your publisher wants you to use. –  micapam Oct 31 '13 at 2:07
    
Great comment! Could you include this in the answer? This additional info made me accept (and upvote) your answer. –  Burgmeister Nov 1 '13 at 15:35
    
can you please explain what does (s)he mean by sorting? In bibliography you can't have citations. –  Theta30 Dec 29 '13 at 4:13

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