technical notes

Latex and Bibtex: (or “How i’m solving the filing problem”)

This is related to previous posts (one, two, three) if you are not interested in managing academic references or document preparation: turn back now

I’ve started using Latex, and although it hurt to get started, i think i’m now converted. The logic, and power, of it makes it infinitely preferable to Word if you’re doing things more complicated than a one page letter. It’s a mark-up language, so not What You See Is What You Get (like MS Word), but more What You See Is What You Want. I swore after the last paper I submitted that i would never use Word for longer documents again, and I think it’s a promise i’ll be able to keep.

One nice thing with Latex is that if there’s anything you can think of doing with a document then someone else has already thought of it and written an add-in to let you do just like that. Like psfrag which lets you modify the labels (content and font etc) of figures from within latex, so your figures always look compatible with the rest of your document.

Although one idiosyncrasy of the programme, which i wish I’d been told earlier, was that you need to compile your document a couple of times before you get a good output. This is to do with Latex needing a couple of passes through to pick up all the cross-references, page boundaries etc (or something). In practice it means that you have a look at the end result and it doesn’t seem to take account of your changes, but if you just had another look (ie ran latex on your document for a second time) it would work. I learnt this here

Latex does automatic inclusion of citations (ie in line mentions) and references (ie the compiled list at the end) with bibtex. Although bibtex is powerful and comes with lots of tools (one, two) available, I can’t find a nice front end with which to manage my references. So although i’m going to use it (have to use it) to put references in Latex documents, I’m going to keep using endnote to manage my references. I was using biblioscape which is nicer in lots of ways, but a bit flaky when talking to MS Word (and that’s something i’m going to keep having to do, if only because not all the people i work with are going to start using Latex).

So, problem: using Endnote with Latex (one, two). All I need to do is when I start on a document, is to move the references I want from Endnote to Bibtex. How hard can it be to get Endnote to export properly? Answer: harder than you think. Currently the easiest way I can see to do it is to export references from Endnote to Biblioscape (Biblioscape 6 and Endnote 8 talk to each other fine, I couldn’t get earlier version to be compatible) and then export from biblioscape to bibtex format. Not very elegant. Can anyone suggest a better way? (and yes, i have tried the Endnote bibtex export style. It’s broken).

3 replies on “Latex and Bibtex: (or “How i’m solving the filing problem”)”

I’ve started using Latex, and although it hurt to get started, i think i’m now converted.

Try getting the stuff with lube next time.

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