Bibtex4Word - BibTeX Database

Contents: Introduction - Publication Types - Fields - Entering Names - Strings - Special Characters


A BibTeX database stores information about published references in a file having the extension .bib. It is possible to edit the database file directly with a text editor but much easier to use a database manager such as Jabref. In this section I give an incomplete description of how to enter references aimed at those who are unfamiliar with BibTeX. If you know enough to disagree with anything I say, you know enough to make up your own mind.

More complete descriptions of how to use BibTeX are available online:

Publication Types

A BibTeX database file contains an entry for each publication and can contain hundreds of separate entries. Some people have different database files for different topic areas while others, including me, find it more convenient to have one massive file containing all the publications they have ever looked at.

Each entry can be any one of nineteen different publication types. The most useful of these are

a paper published in a journal
used for a book. This can be either an "authored book" written entirely by a single group of authors or else and "edited book" with different authors for each chapter.
a chapter or other section of an authored book
a chapter of an edited book
a paper presented at a conference

To add a new entry in JabRef, you click the "+" button and then select which entry type to use. If you make a mistake, you can change the entry type later by right clicking on an entry and selecting Change entry type.


Information about each entry is given in different fields of which the most important are listed below. Do read through this list at least once because some of the information is non-obvious and changing it all after entering loads of references is a great nuisance.

is a short name that is used to refer to a publication within BibTeX and does not usually appear in the bibliography or citation. Each entry must have a unique bibtexkey that is different from all others in the database and must not contain spaces or any of the following ten characters: "@',\#}{~%. My preference is to use the last name of the first author followed by the date of publication and, if necessary to make it distinct, a letter a to z. An example of this would be "Einstein1905a".
A list of author names with the word "and" between each, e.g.  John Flamsteed and Edmond Halley and James Bradley. You can have as many authors as you like. If you get bored, you can end the list with "and others" but it is best to enter all the names. You should put in their full names (as they themselves like to be called) and let the BibTeX style choose whether to abbreviate them by using only their initials (e.g. styles abbrv or abbrvnat).
A list of editor names for "edited books" and, occasionally, for conferences. As with the author list, multiple editors are separated by the word "and".
gives the name of the article, chapter or book. For books, you should also complete the booktitle field with the same information in order to make cross references work correctly. BibTeX ignores any capitalization in the title field and each BibTeX style imposes its own capitalization scheme. If you put braces around any acronyms as in "The {NATO} Organization" then the capitals within the braces will be left alone.
should be the same as the title field for books. For inproceedings types, it should be the proceedings of the conference e.g. "Proc. International Juggling Convention". You should include a period after abbreviations unless they include the final letter of the word being abbreviated.
gives the name of the journal containing an article
gives the volume number for a journal
academic journals usually publish several issues in a year which make up one "volume"; this field gives the issue number within the volume.
gives the range of page numbers in the form "23-56".
gives the year as a 4-digit number.
gives the month. In JabRef, this should always be entered as a 3 letter lower-case abbreviation surrounded by hash signs, e.g. #jan#. The BibTeX style will convert this into the appropriate form for the bibliography.
for inproceedings entries, it is normal to give the name of the city that hosted the conference. For book entries, some people like to include the publisher's city.
for the inbook and incollection types of publication, you should first make an entry for the complete book and then type its bibtexkey in the crossref field of any inbook and incollection entries that refer to part of the book. It is then not necessary to re-enter any information (e.g. publisher and date of publication) that is the same for all sections of the book.
a short string, looking something like 10.1109/CVPR.2006.95, that uniquely identifies a publication and that is guaranteed by the publisher never to change. Several styles (e.g. plainnat, abbrvnat) will convert this into a clickable hyperlink if the d style flag is specified.
a web link pointing to the publication. These are not as good as doi links because they often change over time.
gives the ISBN number for a book.

Entering Names

There are three ways of entering names which are distinguished by the number of commas included (zero, one or two):

  1. Dwight D. Eisenhower
  2. Eisenhower, Dwight D.
  3. Davis, Jr., Sammy

You need to use the last form for names that include a suffix like "Jr." but otherwise, I prefer the first. Initials should be followed by a period and a space, i.e. write "J. B. Priestly" rather than "JB Priestly" or "J.B.Priestly". Aristocratic names should be written "Ludwig van Beethoven" or "van Beethoven, Jr., Ludwig" if they also have a "Jr." suffix.

BibTeX does not deal properly with names in which the family name comes first. These should be surrounded with braces as in  "{Mao Zedong}" in order to ensure that their order is not reversed and that the family name is used when sorting the list of authors.


Jabref allows you to define strings that can abbreviate commonly used journal names. Click BibTeX>>Edit Strings>>+ to enter a new abbreviation e.g. "IJFC" for the "Proc. International Juggling Federation Convention". Once defined, you can enter #IJFC# instead of the full name which is quicker and saves spelling errors.

Special Characters

Bibtex4Word can generate non-standard characters in several different ways. Most of these are illustrated in the document "SpecialCharacters.doc" that is included in the Bibtex4Word distribution.

  1. The easiest way is to save your BibTeX file using UTF-8 encoding (this can be set in the Jabref preferences dialog) and specify the p style flag so that Bibtex4Word reads it correctly.
  2. Non-standard characters that are available in your locale's ANSI code page will be reproduced correctly if the p style flag is omitted or if 0p is specified. These can be entered from your keyboard by typing ALT+0xxx where xxx is the decimal character code that you want in the range 129 to 255. Code page 1252 is the Western European standard and is illustrated in the examples in "SpecialCharacters.doc".
  3. Many characters have special "escape sequences" defined in LaTeX. Thus, "\infty" will create an infinity symbol. Bibtex4Word will correctly interpret most but not all of the sequences shown here.
  4. Accents on letters also have special "escape sequences" which are listed here. For reasons that are explained here, you need to enclose accented characters in names and titles within braces e.g. "{\"a}" for an a with an umlaut or within double braces to protect them from case changes in titles e.g. "{{\"A}}".
  5. Mathematical formulae are enclosed in braces and $ signs and use _ and ^ for subscript and superscript respectively: "{$a^2+b^2=c^2$}".
  6. Unicode characters can be entered with the escape sequence "\unichar{xxx}" where xxx is the decimal code for a character.

This page is part of the Bibtex4Word documentation. Copyright © 2006-2013 Mike Brookes, Imperial College, London, UK. See the file gfl.html for copying instructions. Please send any comments or suggestions to "mike.brookes" at "".
Updated: $Id: b4w_bibtex.html 2836 2013-03-23 09:53:32Z dmb $