Citation sort order for same year

I have X8 and am using output styles for citations and bibliography as author + year. When citing two or more papers by the same author that were published in the same year, these are output as a,b, etc. This is fine, except that I want to be able to specify which record is ‘a’. Endnote always lists ‘a’ as, I think, the one that was first entered into the library.

I have tried using a dummy number (for example using the ‘accession’ field that I do not normally use), but I think this would only work if I actually wanted to show the accession number in the bibliography (which I don’t). Does anyone have a solution to this? There are various comments online, but none seem to address this particular issue.


The order is not based on the order added to the library but on specifics defined by the output style Bibliography sorting order, which is usually defined by the publisher.  You can’t just change it for a group of citations (although you can turn off grouped citation sorting in general, but it will probably not renumber the a,b,c order as it is based on the bibliography.  

Instructions to change the sort order is here:

A more elegant way was described here: 

However you should remember that publishers define the sort order, so adjusting it to suit your preferences, might not be their preferences.  see the discussion around this post: 

Thanks for your quick and helpful response. I have looked at the other suggestions that you mention, and the final one seems to be the most relevant. It appears that Endnote sticks to the rules of the style guides for Bibliography layout. That seems logical and perfectly correct: a bibliography is simply a convenience for finding sources, so order in the text is not important.

However, it is important in the textual citations in many cases. For example, I might want to argue that author Smith first argued something in one paper and then, later in the year, clarified and modified the point. Although it may be stylistically correct, it is very odd, and discursively misleading, to say: 'Smith (2019b) first argued that X was the case but later in the same year (Smith 2019a) showed that this implied Y.'

I don’t think I have come across any publisher requirements for having things the way that I would prefer, but I have had publishers’ copy editors making complex manual changes because Endnote puts a source as 2019b rather than 2019a.

The only way around this that I have found is to alter the titles of papers so that the alphabetical ordering corresponds to the correct chronological order (by the month of publication) and then, at the end of the process, manually unformat everything and edit the titles. This is very cumbersome and rather defeats the point of using a Reference Manager program.

Surely a sensible publisher would rather have a paper with logically correct citations and a slightly incorrect alphabetisation of titles in the Bibliography. ** I suspect that this is more of a problem for authors of discursive papers in the humanities and social sciences than it is for authors in natural science. Perhaps the program developers could include a dummy item in the reference that indicated month of publication (1-12) with the option to use this in the Bibliography sort order of a custom style. Writers who do not have this problem could simply ignore it. **

Incidentally, the second source listed in the reply is an incomplete URL and returns an error. I think the correct source for the ‘elegant solution’ is in the ‘EndNote-How-To’ section of the forum and is the query ‘How-to-change-the-order-of-references-in-one-in-text-bracket’ and dated 05-28-2011. (I can’t paste in the correct URL as the forum software tells me that it is ‘invalid HTML’, despite being pasted from the original page). I hope anyone else interested is able to find it.

I think I fixed the link.  – can you test it for me.  Often that html error shows up the first time, and then reposting works, as long as you haven’t posted other times (max 3?) within 5 min.  

Hi, yes, the link works now!