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Bibliography and Citations in LaTeX

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.

This is an excerpt from Better Books with LaTeX the Agile Way. You can get a copy here.

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. Personally, I love to know the source of an author’s ideas.

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).

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 LaTeX, the support for a bibliography is inbuilt. All entries are saved in the file bibliography/english.bib. 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 If the entry references a book, use 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 (for example, websites or movies) falls under this category. 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 Amazon prohibits the use of Amazon affiliate links within e-books.

The template is already set up to load the entries of bibliography/english.bib. With the following commands, you have access to all bibliographical entries within this file:

  • \citetitle{id} This command prints out the title specified in the corresponding entry in the bibliography. For example, \citetitle{BBWLtAW} writes the title of this book in italics: Better Books with LaTeX the Agile Way. In addition, it adds the title to the index of the book.
  • \cite{id} This command prints out the reference to the media and creates 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, many different formats include a combination of year, title, and author. If you want to use a different format, check out the documentation at https://ctan.org/pkg/bibtex and make the corresponding changes in lib/bibliography.tex.

Bibliographical Information

To fill the bibliography with media you cite from, the most straightforward 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 exporting or downloading a citation in BibTeX. This way, you can download an already filled-out bibliographical entry and copy and paste it into your bibliography/english.bib library.

As an example, the BibTex entry for this book is:

 
 
@BOOK{ BBWLtAW, 
    author = { Lode, Clemens }, 
    title = { Better Books with LaTeX the Agile Way}, 
    keywords = { }, 
    isbn = { 978-3-945586-48-8  }, 
    publisher = { Clemens Lode Verlag e.K. }, 
    year = { 2019 }, 
    type = { Book }, 
    subjects = { Publishing; Marketing; Project Management } 
}  

This is an excerpt from Better Books with LaTeX the Agile Way. You can get a copy here.

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