Bibliographic references in LaTeX
[ LaTeX for Linguists, .dvi, .ps, .pdf]

Andrew Bredenkamp

  • Loading natbib.sty
  • Creating a bibliographic database
  • Making citations
  • Getting references into your document
  • Other packages
  • The package

  • One of the the most versatile package for putting citations in your documents is Patrick W. Daly's natbib.sty in combination with the standard BibTeX system.

    Loading natbib.sty

    To load natbib.sty, the preamble should contain the following:


    In addition, a bibliography style should be set after the \begin{document} command. The standard one for this package is plainnat:


    Creating a bibliographic database

    You can include the bibligraphic details in the same .tex file, but this means that you cannot share references across files. The most efficient way is often to create a separate database of bibliographic entries which you can use as a resource for any files you create. Note also that some sites (e.g. those at Essex or DFKI ) give references already in BibTeX format, so you can just copy them into your own bibliography.

    Database entries look, for example, like the following:

      author =       {Michel Goossens and Frank Mittelbach and Alexander
      title =        {The {\LaTeX\ } Companion},
      publisher =    {Addison-Wesley},
      year =         1994

    If you are creating entries in emacs, there is a special mode for editing BibTeX entries. There are different entry types for books, journal papers, unpublished theses, etc.

    Making citations

    Once everything is set up as described above then making citations is straightforward.

    Using natbib.sty, you get very delicate control over how citations appear in your text. Here are some examples:

    The standard citation in author-year format is produced with the following:

    To include a reference to a particular section, use an optional argument as follows:

    To include all the authors in the citation:

    To create in parenthetical citation:

    There are a whole range of other options, all of which are described in the full documentation (which you can read here, in case you cannot find a copy elsewhere).

    Getting references into your document

    LaTeX has a complicated way of writing in references. It does this by writing information to auxiliary files. As with cross-references, therefore, you will have to run LaTeX several times to resolve the bibliographic references.

    If you have added new bibliographic entries, you will need to complete the following cycle:

    Unless you add new entries to the .bib file, you can add new citations to your document by simply running the file through LaTeX twice (i.e. the last two steps).

    Other packages

    A popular package for bibliographies is cslibib -- most of the functionality of this package is provided by natbib.sty.

    The package

    BibTeX is a standard component of LaTeX. The natbib.sty is available in from "the usual places".

    LaTeX for Linguists,
    Doug Arnold,,
    September 25, 2007.