Using BibTeX for References

Using BibTeX can really take the hassle out of quoting references in your technical reports. Here’s a crash-tutorial on how to use it.

First, learn LaTeX. I’ll try posting some good links for this later. You can always search on “latex guide” or “latex help” to see lots of tutorials. It’s really easy and fun once you get to know it.

Anyway, once you’ve got your text in the LaTeX source, read ahead. Let’s assume there’s a paper which you have used titled, “Estimation of design effects in cluster surveys”.

Go to Click on “Scholar Preferences” at the top and in the “Bibliography Manager” section of the options, select “Show links to import citations into: BibTeX”. Save prefs. (You only need to do this option thingy once per session.)

Now, search for the paper you wish. You should see the paper in the results. Click on “Import into BibTeX”.

For the paper mentioned above, I get this BibTeX source:

title={{Estimation of design effects in cluster surveys}},
author={Katz, J. and Zeger, S.L.},
journal={Ann Epidemiol},

Copy this text and paste it in a file called “mypaperRefs.bib”. (Or anything you like.) This is your BibTeX source file and you should paste BibTeX sources of all your references in this single file.

Once you collect all the BibTeX references in this file, it’s time to start quoting references in your paper. Here’s how you quote a reference:

“Katz and Zeger \cite{katz1994ede} have described …”

See that the cite key is mentioned in the BibTeX source. You just need to use the key and LaTeX will do the rest for you.

At the end of the paper, you need to tell LaTeX the style of your bibliography and the BibTeX source file:


Note: mypaperRefs is the BibTeX source filename without the extension. This BibTeX source needs to be in the same folder as your .tex file. More on bibliography styles later. Also note that you will need to compile your LaTeX source file around three times before the numbering gets fixed.

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