This site converts a plain text list of references in a wide range of styles to BibTeX. Minimal requirements for input file:
  • Either references are separated by blank lines or each line is a separate reference or each reference starts with \bibitem{}, \bibitem{<label>}, \item, \bigskip, or \smallskip.
  • Each reference either starts (after possibly one of the separator strings mentioned in the previous point) with a list of authors, which is followed by either a year or a title, or starts with a year; if the authors are followed by a year, the next string is the title.
The conversion is not perfect, but is very good for many reference styles (see the examples below). Currently only the item types article, book, incollection, inproceedings, techreport, mastersthesis, phdthesis, and unpublished are detected.

To use the conversion script you need to log in; if you do not have a username and password, you need to register.

Examples of references that are correctly converted:

  • Arrow, K. J., L. Hurwicz, and H. Uzawa (1961), "Constraint qualifications in maximization problems," Naval Research Logistics Quarterly 8, 175-191.
  • Arrow, K. J., L. Hurwicz, and H. Uzawa [1961], ``Constraint qualifications in maximization problems,'' {\it Naval Research Logistics Quarterly}, 8(2), 175-191.
  • Arrow, K. J., L. Hurwicz, \& H. Uzawa. Constraint qualifications in maximization problems. \textit{Naval Research Logistics Quarterly}, 8(2): 175--191. 1961.
  • Arrow, K. J., L. Hurwicz, \& H. Uzawa. Constraint qualifications in maximization problems. Naval Research Logistics Quarterly, 8(2): 175--191. 1961.
  • Arrow, K. J., L. Hurwicz, & H. Uzawa. Constraint qualifications in maximization problems, Naval Research Logistics Quarterly, 8(2): 175--191, 1961.
  • Arrow, K. J., L. Hurwicz, and H. Uzawa. ``Constraint qualifications in maximization problems,'' \emph{Naval Research Logistics Quarterly}, 8 (2): 175-191, 1961.
  • {\sc Arrow, K. J., Hurwicz, L. and H. Uzawa}. ``Constraint qualifications in maximization problems,'' {\em Naval Research Logistics Quarterly}, {\bf 8} (1961), pp. 175-191.
  • Arrow, K. J., Hurwicz, L. and H. Uzawa (1961), Constraint qualifications in maximization problems. \textit{Naval Research Logistics Quarterly}, \textbf{8}, 175 - 191.
  • Arrow, K. J., Hurwicz, L., and Uzawa, H. \textquotedblleft Constraint qualifications in maximization problems,\textquotedblright\ \textit{Naval Research Logistics Quarterly} \textbf{8} (1961), 175-191.
  • \bibitem{AHU} Arrow, K. J., Hurwicz, L., and Uzawa, H. ``Constraint qualifications in maximization problems,'' \textit{Naval Research Logistics Quarterly} \textbf{8} (1961), 175-191.
  • 1961 Arrow, K. J., L. Hurwicz, and H. Uzawa, "Constraint qualifications in maximization problems," Naval Research Logistics Quarterly 8, 175-191.
The conversion algorithm has most difficulty when no components of the reference are styled in any way (e.g. quoted or set in italics) and the components are not separated by periods. For such a reference, a period in a title, for example, will yield the wrong result. Authors' last names that contain spaces also are interpreted incorrectly under some circumstances.

Why use BibTeX? Using BibTeX to format your references has several advantages over manual formatting:

  • You need to type each reference only once, in one format.
  • BibTeX can format your references in any style you want.
  • The citations will be consistent with the references (you won't ever have "Arrow (1963)" in the text and "Arrow (1964)" in the references).
  • There will be a one-to-one relation between the items you cite and the items in the references.
How to use BibTeX. See Using BibTeX: a short guide for some details. In outline:
  • Create a BibTeX file of your references. (For references already typed, use this page to convert to BibTeX.) Say your file is called research.bib.
  • When you want to cite an item in research.bib, write \cite{<label>} in your document, where <label> is the label of the item in research.bib. (Alternatively, you may want to use \citealt, or some other command, depending on the way you want the citation to appear.)
  • In the preamble of your document, specify the citation style you want to use. For example, you might say \usepackage{natbib}.
  • Somewhere in your document specify the bibliography style, by putting the command \bibliographystyle{<style>}, where <style> is the style you want to use. If you can't find a style you like, roll your own using Merlin.
  • At the point you want the references to appear in your document, put \bibliography{research} (given that research.bib is the name of your BibTeX file).
  • Run your document through LaTeX, then through BibTeX, then through LaTeX a couple of times.