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The Bibliographic Database

The first step in using is to create or use an existing bibliographic database (a .bib file). This file consists of entries of the form:

    REQUIREDFIELD = "value",
    REQUIREDFIELD = {value},
    OPTIONALFIELD = value,
    IGNOREDFIELD = abbrev }
supports several entry types, such as BOOK, ARTICLE, PHDTHESIS, and each entry type has an associated list of fields. There are three different classes of fields: required, optional and ignored. Required fields must appear in the entry as a minimum, otherwise will produce an error message. Optional fields will be used in the entry if present but can be omitted. They are used to provide the reader with additional information such as relevant chapters, the address of the publisher etc. Ignored fields are regarded as comments by and as such are not printed out as part of the bibliography; they are typically used to annotate the entry for your own use.

As an example consider the following entry:

  @STRING{addwes = "Addison-Wesley Publishing Company"}

    title = "\LaTeX~User's Guide \& Reference Manual",
    author = {Leslie Lamport\},
    publisher = addwes,
    year = 1986,
    note = "A comprehensive guide to preparing documents",
    relevant = "Appendix B covers \BibTeX~in some detail" }
In this example, the entry type is BOOK; the key is latexbook; the required fields are title, author, publisher and year; note is an optional field and relevant is an ignored field.

Strings in an entry can either be surrounded by braces or quotes as in the title and author fields above. If a string is used more than once, it is worth defining an abbreviation and using that as the value for a field. Abbreviations are defined by putting a @STRING command in the .bib file.

Further entry types and their required and optional fields are given in section .

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