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How do I create bibliographies in LaTeX?

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There are two methods for creating a bibliography. The first can be used for short documents with only a few sources, and is fairly simple. The second method is used for large documents and theses, and involves using a program called "bibtex".

Simple method

If all of this seems complicated, there is a simpler way to produce a quick bibliography for your document. This can be used for smaller papers, ones that don't need a very extensive bibliography. Something like this will work fine:


  \bibitem{notes} John W. Dower {\em Readings compiled for History
  21.479.}  1991.

  \bibitem{impj}  The Japan Reader {\em Imperial Japan 1800-1945} 1973:
  Random House, N.Y.

  \bibitem{norman} E. H. Norman {\em Japan's emergence as a modern
  state} 1940: International Secretariat, Institute of Pacific

  \bibitem{fo} Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi {\em Anti-Foreignism and Western
  Learning in Early-Modern Japan} 1986: Harvard University Press.


You can put this at the end of your LaTeX file. If you want to refer to something from your bibliography you can put something like this in yourfile:

  This is obvious \cite{norman}.

which would produce something like

  This is obvious [2].


Pretend that the file that we are using is called 'foo.tex'. To make a bibliography, we should put all our sources into a file called 'foo.bib'. The structure of foo.bib is as follows:

	@BOOK{<some abbreviation that you make up>,
	    AUTHOR = "author",
	    TITLE = "book title",
	    PUBLISHER = {publishing company},
	    ADDRESS = {where published},
	    YEAR = year published}

For our sample document, we will use the following:

	    AUTHOR = "Star, R. M.",
	    TITLE = "Foo Bar Baz",
	    PUBLISHER = {MIT Press},
	    ADDRESS = {Cambridge, MA},
	    YEAR = 1989}
Quotation Marks
BIBTeX uses REAL quotation marks (") and NOT the opening and closing quotation marks (`` and '') that LaTeX normally uses.

Now, everytime you refer to the book Foo Bar Baz in foo.tex, you refer to it in the following manner:

\cite[p. 2] {bar}

This will match the citation number with the number of the book in the list of references.

If you have a few references that you did not explicitly cite in the text of your document, but you would like to include it in the list of references, you use the following (in foo.tex):

	\nocite {baz,fuzz,bong}

where baz, fuzz, and bong are abbreviations for the other texts.

To actually create the bibliography, you need to use the following commands in foo.tex (these are usually at the end of the document - where you want the References section to appear):


There are several options for \bibliographystyle:

plain normal style - listed in ABC order and labeled numerically
unsrt same as plain except entries appear in order of citation
alpha same as plain except entry labels are used
abbrv same as plain except uses abbreviations for first names, month names, and journal names

Now that you have the basis for a bibliography, you have to run both latex and bibtex on the document. First, you should run latex (to create a foo.aux file, which bibtex reads). Then run bibtex once to get some of the citations and create a .bbl file. Then run latex again so that the cross references between the text file and the bibliography are correct. You may want to repeat running bibtex and latex on the file to make sure that all cross references are correct. Be warned that adding/deleting citations and sources will require running bibtex again.

For more information on this topic, please refer the following pages in the LaTeX manual by Leslie Lamport:

	72-74    Bibliography and Citation
	74-74    BibTeX
	140-147  Format of the .bib File (also gives info on other entry types)
	187-188  Bibliography and Citation

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members

Last Modified:

July 07, 2016

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