Bibtex Bibliography Styles

Choosing a bibliography style

A large proportion of people are satisfied with one of Patashnik’s original “standard” styles, plain, unsrt, abbrv and alpha. However, no style in that set supports the “author-date” citation style that is popular in many fields; but there are a very large number of contributed styles available, that do support the format.

(Note that author-date styles arose because the simple and clear citation style that plain produces is so awkward in a traditional manuscript preparation scenario. However, TeX-based document production does away with all those difficulties, leaving us free once again to use the simple option.)

Fortunately, help is at hand, on the Web, with this problem:

  • a sample text, showing the sorts of style choices available, can be found on Ken Turner’s web site;
  • an excellent survey, that lists a huge variety of styles, sorted into their nominal topics as well as providing a good range of examples, is the Reed College “Choosing a BibTeX style”.

Of course, these pages don’t cover everything; the problem the inquisitive user faces, in fact, is to find what the various available styles actually do. This is best achieved (if the links above don’t help) by using xampl.bib from the BibTeX documentation distribution: one can get a pretty good feel for any style one has to hand using this “standard” bibliography. For style my-style.bst, the simple LaTeX document:

\documentclass{article} \begin{document} \bibliographystyle{my-style} \nocite{*} \bibliography{xampl} \end{document}
will produce a representative sample of the citations the style will produce. (Because xampl.bib is so extreme in some of its “examples”, the BibTeX run will also give you an interesting selection of BibTeX’s error messages…)

This question on the Web:

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Where to Find Your Citation Style

  • arXiv papers and BibTeX
    Instructions for adding an arXiv eprint referrer, with modified bibliographic styles for some journals.
  • astrobib
    Astrobib supports many well-known astronomy journals and is compatible with AAS/WGAS LaTeX macros, A&A and MNRAS styles, &c.
  • Choosing a BibTeX Style
    Reed College has provided several modified versions of APA, MLA, and Chicago. Click on the name of the style you want to download under the Styles Recommended by Reed section. Place the style in the directory of your paper.
  • CTAN
    CTAN is a document database providing packages, bibliographic styles, and other resources for use with LaTeX.

But what about importing from databases?

  • TeXMed - a BibTeX interface for PubMed
    TeXMed is just an interface to NCBI PubMed, that allows you to query PubMed and to store references in BibTeX format.
  • Documentation on Web of Knowledge/Web of Science for BibTeX Citations
    Quick summary: Once you've found a citation you want to save, just go to the bottom of the article information page and export using the options in the Output Record box.
  • Documentation on Exporting to BibTeX in ProQuest
    Quick summary: Click the Cite button in the light blue bar above your search results. A box will come up that will walk you through citing the resource(s). Select BibTeX as your citation style, then press the orange "Change" button. Copy the citation to your .bib file. NOTE THAT YOU WILL NEED TO PROVIDE THE IDENTIFIERS FOR EXPORTED CITATIONS.


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