5. Generating a Bibliography

Volume 1 introduced the thebibliography environment. While it is possible to write this environment yourself, as was done in Volume 1, it's not practical with a large number of citations.

Instead, the preferred method is to create an external database of bibliographic data and use an application that fetches the relevant information from that database and writes a file containing the thebibliography environment, which can then be input into your document. This means that:

  1. Only the references that you cite are included in the bibliography. (Examiners tend to fault uncited references5.1.)

  2. References are displayed in a consistent manner.

  3. Entries can be sorted in order of citation or alphabetically.

Traditionally the bibtex application is used to generate the thebibliography environment. It comes with TeX distributions and most books on LaTeX cover bibtex. Unfortunately bibtex has some drawbacks, most notably the complexity of creating your own custom style. UTF-8 has also been a problem, although newer versions of bibtex apparently fix this.

In 2006, Philipp Lehman brought out the biblatex package to provide a more flexible way of typesetting bibliographies. This originally used bibtex to just sort the entries and used LaTeX macros to deal with the actual formatting, but it is now moving over to using biber instead of bibtex.

Since some journals, conferences or other types of scientific publishers require you to use bibtex, §5.2. BibTeX provides a brief introduction to bibtex and then §5.3. Biblatex discusses biblatex and biber. But first §5.1. Creating a Bibliography Database covers creating the actual database, which is required for both methods.


... references5.1
When your examiners read through your thesis, they can check off each citation they encounter against your bibliography. When they reached the end of the thesis, they can then look through the bibliography for unchecked entries. One or two may appear the result of carelessness, whereas a large quantity will look like padding and may lead the examiners to suspect a certain amount of duplicity on your part.

This book is also available as A4 PDF or 12.8cm x 9.6cm PDF or paperback (ISBN 978-1-909440-02-9).

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