A Swirl Through Bibtex

September 3, 2006 § Leave a comment

Bibtex is a tool for bibliography generation and management for LaTeX. It is presentation-agnostic. Consistency of bibliography presentation is managed by styles which are independent of the content.

BibTeX has the following capabilities:

  • convenient management of all our bibliographic data (in a single or multiple files/locations as desired)
  • setting the presentation for the bibliographic data with a simple change of the \bibliographystyle command in our LaTeX document
  • enforcing consistency of style across a complex document.

Cite As You Write

References are included in the .tex file with the \cite command. Multiple citations can be included in a single \cite command.

Tom and Jerry demonstrated the first experiment in time-dilation effects~\cite{tom_nutty_exp}

The above entry inserts the reference in the document, ensuring that formatting is consistent with the bibliographic style specified.

In order to refer to new work, simply add it’s details to the .bib file. This is the format understood by BibTex. Use the command \bibliographystyle in the .tex file to generate the bibliography at that location.

1-2-3… Cite Off

If a document is written in a file report.tex and the bibliographic entries are stored in the unimaginatively named mybib.bib:

  • Use the \bibliography{file_name} command in report.tex to specify that the bibliography entries reside in mybib.bib. Like so: \bibliography{mybib}
  • Specify a bibliography style: \bibliographystyle{plain} — here we specify a plain style. A few other styles are unsrt, alpha, abbrv.
  • Build the output document with the following sequence of commands:
    • latex report
    • bibtex report
    • latex report
    • latex report

The .bib File

A typical .bib entry is as follows:

title = {A Time Trap for Jerry},
journal = {Proceedings of the 4th Toon Conference on Insidious Traps},
author = {Cat, Tom and Mouse, Jerry},
year = {2000}

Entries in .bib file can be one of the following, or any other as defined:

  • article: an article from a journal or magazine
  • book: a book with a publisher
  • booklet: a work that is printed and bound, but without a named publisher
  • inproceedings: an article in a conference proceedings
  • inbook: a part of a book (may be a chapter, etc.)
  • incollection: a part of a book with its own title
  • manual: technical documentation
  • unpublished: a document with an author and a title, but not formally published


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.


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