A BibTeX bibliography file may reasonably be compared to a small database, the entries in which are references to literature that may be called up by citations in a document.
Each entry in the bibliography has a type and a unique key. The bibliography is read, by BibTeX, using the details specified in a bibliography style. From the style, BibTeX finds what entry types are permissible, what fields each entry type has, and how to format the whole entry.
The type specifies the type of document you're making reference to; it
may run all the way from things like
Proceedings (which may even contain other citations
through dissertation styles like
otherwise-uncategorisable things such as
unique key is something you choose yourself: it's what you use when
you want to cite an entry in the file. People
commonly create a key that combines the (primary) author's name and
the year of publication, possibly with a marker to distinguish
publications in the same year. So, for example, the Dyson, Eddington,
Davidson paper about deflection of starlight appears in my
bib file as
So, noting the rules of the style, you have “simply” to write a bibliography database. Fortunately, there are several tools to help in this endeavour:
tex2bibwill probably help.
Tools such as
Xbibfile (a graphical user interface),
ebib (a database application written to run “inside”
btOOL (a set of
perl tools for building
BibTeX database handlers) are available from CTAN.
Other systems, such as
pybliographer and the
and JabRef (which
claims to supersede
are only available from their development sites.
- Some commercial citation-management systems will export in
BibTeX format; an example is
- Data from on-line citation databases may often be translated to
BibTeX format by utilities to be found on CTAN. For
translate citations from ISI “Web of knowledge” (a
subscription service, available to UK academics via
BIDS). UK academics may translate BIDS downloads
- Google Scholar provides an
“Import into BibTeX” tab for each reference it finds for you:
that tab gives you a page containing a BibTeX entry for the