LaTeX/Creating Citations and Bibliographies
For any academic or research report, incorporating references into a document is an important task. Fortunately, LaTeX has a variety of features that make dealing with references much simpler. Before starting you should decide which procedure to use, because a change of mind later will result in a lot of work.
In general, you have two possible routes available in order to have a nice looking bibliography and citations in your document.
- If you want to have full and absolute control over the layout, you have to do your bibliography by hand. Of course, this usually means you have a maximum of work in writing and checking as well.
- Automatic generation using a database
- Store the bibliographic data and let LaTeX and its helper programs generate a bibliography using a database
If you want LaTeX to help you with the preparation of the references, you still have one decsion to make: Which tool to use?
- BibTeX is around for 30 years. It is an extra program that sorts the entries that have been cited in the document and formats them using a special bibliographystyle definition file. Many LaTeX packages are available that enhance the limited features. Changing the appearance of the bibliography can be tricky.
- Biblatex with biber
- Biblatex is a LaTeX package that formats your bibliography. The style is defined using LaTeX macros. biber is replacing BibTeX, meaning it is the extra program that sorts your entries. biblatex can generate multiple bibliographies, multilingual bibliographies, different lists for books or online entries etc. No extra package is needed. The combo also supports unicode.
If you are submitting to a journal, ask them for advice. Many journals provide the style definition files for the older BibTeX workflow. If they don't use the modern approach, they won't be pleased to see biblatex.
If you are writing a thesis, ask your advisor for tips. If she has a style definition file ready, use it. If not, but you have some clear requirements for the appearance of the bibliography, better start of with the modern biblatex.
No matter which way you are going, a little warning: Managing a bibliography can be very time-consuming.
What different referencing styles are available?
Very broadly speaking, only two different reference styles are used in science and technology and available with LaTeX:
- Numerical, also called Vancouver style
- Parenthetical referencing, also known as Harvard style Which again can be split into author date and author title referencing)
Many different specialised styles have been developed over the years, you might find one without having to do something yourself.