Creating a BibTeX bibliography file

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 Book and Proceedings (which may even contain other citations of type InBook or InProceedings) through dissertation styles like PhdThesis to otherwise-uncategorisable things such as Misc. The 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 experimental bib file as Dyson20.1.

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:

have "BibTeX modes".
  • If you have an existing thebibliography

environment, the Perl script ''tex2bib'' will
probably help.
  • There are a number of BibTeX bibliography management systems

available, some of which permit a graphical user interface to the
task.  Sadly, none seems to be available with the ordinary TeX
Tools such as ''Xbibfile'' (a graphical user interface),
''ebib'' (a database application written to run "inside"
Emacs) and ''btOOL'' (a set of Perl tools for building
BibTeX database handlers) are available from CTAN.
Other systems, such as
[[|''pybliographer'']] and the
Java-based [[|''Bibkeeper'']]
and [[|''JabRef'']] (which
claims to supersede ''Bibkeeper'')
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
example, the Perl script ''isi2bibtex'' will
translate citations from ISI "Web of knowledge" (a
subscription service, available to UK academics via
BIDS).  UK academics may translate BIDS downloads
using ''''
"Import into BibTeX" tab for each reference it finds for you:
that tab gives you a page containing a BibTeX entry for the

Source: Creating a BibTeX bibliography file