Bibliography and Citations

This is an excerpt of the book “Better Books with LaTeX.” The book comes with a LaTeX template you can use to easily create your own books.

Science is a collaborative enterprise spanning the generations. When it allows us to see the far side of some new horizon, we remember those who prepared the way […]

—Carl Sagan, Cosmos: Blues for a Red Planet

Books build upon other books, just like scientific experiments build on other scientific experiments. Be it out of scientific accuracy, as a service to the interested reader, or out of gratitude, you should include references to your sources.

Myself, I love to know the source of an author’s ideas. This is basically the story of my book series Philosophy for Heroes, which is a summary of a number of philosophers and scientists I admire for their work.

Zotero   Zotero is a plugin for Word (see https://www.zotero.org) which integrates into Word and your browser so you can fetch bibliographical information from the web and import it via a menu in Word.

In Word, there is no built-in way of managing a bibliography (other than manually writing each entry and referencing it in the text). You can check out plugins like Zotero (https://www.zotero.org) which integrate into Word and your browser so you can fetch bibliographical information from the web and import it via a menu in Word.

In LaTeX, the support for a bibliography is inbuilt. All entries are saved in the file bibliography/main.bib in the root directory. The file is structured as a list of entries of the format TYPE{id, title={ title }, author={ author }, year={year of release}, …}. While LaTeX allows special characters like colons to be used in the id field, I recommend using only lowercase characters and numbers. Besides the title and release year, an entry can have a number of different parameters depending on its type. The main types are:

  • @BOOK All books have this type. Additional entries are isbn, and publisher.
  • @ARTICLE Articles published in scientific journals have this type. Additional entries are journalpages, and publisher.
  • @MISC Any other source fall under this category, for example websites or movies. Additional entries are url, and note. If you are referencing a website, add a note that contains something like “note = { [online; last accessed March 3rd, 2018] }” as the website’s contents might change. Ideally, keep a local copy of the website for yourself in case it vanishes. Please note that for the url field, include “http://” or “https://” at the front to make it a valid field.

Please note that it is not possible to use the url field to set it to an Amazon affiliate link. This is prohibited by Amazon (see https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/help/operating/policies?ac-ms-src=ac-nav).

  Getting Bibliographical Information

The simplest approach is to go to Amazon, search for the book or movie title, and copy the information (author, publisher, ISBN, etc.) manually into a new entry. If you are citing scientific articles, look for a button on a website that says something about BibTeX. This way, you can download an already filled-out bibliographical entry and copy and paste it into your bibliography/main.bib library. Finally, you want to know how to actually use the bibliography. The template is already set up to load the entries of bibliography/main.bib. With the following commands, you have access to the full library:

  • \citetitle{id} This command prints out the title specified in the corresponding entry in the bibliography. For example, “\citetitle{PFH1E}” cites my book Philosophy for Heroes: Knowledge in italics.
  • \cite{id} This command prints out the reference to the media and sets a link to the bibliography in the back matter.
  • \citep{id} This command is the same as above, but puts parentheses around the reference.
  • \footcite{id} This command is the same as above, but puts the citation into a footnote.

Concerning the citation itself, there are many different formats that show a combination of year, title and / or author. If you want to use a different format, check out the documentation at https://ctan.org/pkg/bibtex.

2018-10-23T22:10:18+00:00Tags: |