8.24.4 Using BibTeX

As described in thebibliography (see thebibliography), a sophisticated approach to managing bibliographies is provided by the BibTeX program. This is only an introduction; see the full documentation on CTAN (see CTAN: The Comprehensive TeX Archive Network).

With BibTeX, you don’t use the thebibliography environment directly (see thebibliography). Instead, include these lines:

\bibliography{bibfile1, bibfile2, ...}

The bibstyle refers to a file bibstyle.bst, which defines how your citations will look. The standard bibstyle’s distributed with BibTeX are:


Labels are formed from name of author and year of publication. The bibliographic items are sorted alphabetically.


Labels are integers. Sort the bibliographic items alphabetically.


Like plain, but entries are in order of citation.


Like plain, but more compact labels.

Many, many other BibTeX style files exist, tailored to the demands of various publications. See the CTAN topic https://ctan.org/topic/bibtex-sty.

The \bibliography command is what actually produces the bibliography. Its argument is a comma-separated list, referring to files named bibfile1.bib, bibfile2.bib, … These contain your database in BibTeX format. This shows a typical couple of entries in that format.

  title     = {The {{\TeX}}book},
  author    = {D.E. Knuth},
  isbn      = {0201134489},
  series    = {Computers \& typesetting},
  year      = {1983},
  publisher = {Addison-Wesley}
    author    = {W.H. Masters and V.E. Johnson},
    title     = {Human Sexual Response},
    year      = {1966},
    publisher = {Bantam Books}

Only the bibliographic entries referred to via \cite and \nocite will be listed in the document’s bibliography. Thus you can keep all your sources together in one file, or a small number of files, and rely on BibTeX to include in this document only those that you used.

With BibTeX, the keys argument to \nocite can also be the single character ‘*’. This means to implicitly cite all entries from all given bibliographies.

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