Overleaf - LaTeX: Bibliographies and Citing

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Bibliographies in LaTeX

In order to cite references, you first need to create a separate bibliography file ending with a .bib extension within your LaTeX project.  You can do that by clicking on the New File icon on the upper-left corner of the screen.

make a bibliography overleaf

Then, enter your file name. Note that the default file extension in LaTeX is .tex. Your bibliography file must end in .bib. Once you create your file, you can add references to it in the BibTeX format.

Exporting references from ProQuest RefWorks

If you use RefWorks to manage your references, you can export your references from RefWorks into the BibTeX format. To export your references from RefWorks, click on the Share  tab. Then, click on Export References  and select the BibTeX  option. You can import the references you exported from RefWorks into LaTeX as a .bib file.

To learn more about RefWorks, visit the  RefWorks e-course module .

Exporting references from a database or Google Scholar

The easiest way to add references to your .bib file, other than exporting them from RefWorks, is to import or copy them directly from Google Scholar or from a database. To cite from Google Scholar, click on the cite  icon underneath the article, which is represented with a quotation sign. Select the option BibTeX  at the bottom of the pop-up screen. You will be directed to another page where you can copy the reference in the BibTeX format. Make sure to check that the relevant fields are entered correctly before copying the reference into your .bib file.

Note that Google Scholar does not include a DOI, which is often needed as part of your reference.

Some databases also provide the option to export a reference in the BibTeX format. The way to export a reference from a database can vary depending on the database being used.

Note: Not all databases allow you to export citation information in the BibTeX format. To work around this, use RefWorks to manage your references which you can then export in the BibTeX format. 

Entering references manually

When entering a reference to BibTeX, the fields that are required to be filled in for each citation will vary depending on the type of the work you are citing. The reference type is specified by using the @ symbol followed by the type. Regardless of the reference type, the first field to be entered in the reference is the label that you want to give to a particular reference. You will later be able to use this label to cite the reference in the main text of the document.

Below is an example of the fields you are required to enter for articles.

Here's another example illustrating the fields required for a Ph.D. thesis.

Visit the page on standard templates for BibTeX to see how other types of works can be included.

Citing in LaTeX

To begin citing sources within your LaTeX document, you can use the biblatex  package. Add  \usepackage { biblatex } to your preamble. Note that there are other packages that you could use for this, including the natbib  package, which is also a popular option.

There are a number of specifications you can enter to the \usepackage { biblatex } command. The first specification you should add within the  square brackets of the command is backend = biber . Biber provides the relevant information needed to implement the biblatex package.

You can also specify the style of your bibliography by using the style  parameter. For instance, style=authoryear  will print your references in the author-year format. Another common variant is style=authoryear-comp , which will only print the author's last name once, and not for the subsequent references. Visit the page on biblatex's citation styles for a full list.

Using biblatex, you can also determine what criteria should be used to sort your bibliography by specifying the sorting  parameter. For instance, sorting=nyt  will sort your bibliography by name, title, and year. The end result of specifying these parameters may look something like this:

To be able to cite the references from your bibliography, you will need to implement a command mapping your BibTeX file to your document. To do that, you can use the \addbibresource {..} command and add your file name in between the curly brackets.

There are many options to call and format your in-text citations in LaTeX. Below is a list of common commands you can use with the corresponding output. For instance, the command \parencite {JonesandSmith1997} will result in (Jones and Smith 1997) in the pdf.   

Adding the \printbibliography command at the end of the document will instruct LaTeX to print your references.

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Creating a bibliography is made easy in LaTeX through the use of packages such as bibtex, biber, natbib and biblatex which allow the automatic generation of the reference list in the chosen style (e.g. in that required by the academic journal you’re submitting your article to). Here we present some example documents to help you see how to set up a bibliography in LaTeX to achieve the reference and citation style required.

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These templates were hand-picked by Overleaf staff for their high quality and positive feedback received from the Overleaf community over the years.

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Using Overleaf for LaTex

  • Getting Started
  • Exporting BibTex from databases

Using Refworks

  • RefWorks by Heather Dalal Last Updated Oct 12, 2022 905 views this year
  • Uploading your BibTeX file
  • Linking your references.bib to your main.tex
  • 1. Export references from Refworks

In order to cite references,

1. Create a separate bibliography file ending with a .bib extension within your LaTeX project. To do so click on the  New File  icon on the upper-left corner of the screen.

Then, enter your file name.Your bibliography file must end in .bib.  (The default file extension in LaTeX is .text).

screenshot overleaf - new file highlighted. callout to box to change extension from .tex to .bib

Once you create your file, you can add references to it in the BibTeX format.

The easiest way to do that is using Google Scholar. 

1. Click on the Cite link under the article title 

2. click on BibTex

google scholar citation screenshot with circle around the cite link and the BibTex link

3. This is the BibTex info from Google Scholar. Copy it. 

google scholar bibtext information

1.To cite in text add the command ~ for a nonbreakingspace followed by \cite{}

main.tex with reason to cite

2. Go to your references.bib to get the key for the reference as highlighted in the example below.

overleaf references.bib with article key highlighted

3. Back on your main document,

a. Add the article key in the brackets after ~\cite{blum2021prompt}

b. Add a bibliography style, i.e.  \bibliographystyle{plain}

c. Tell the document where to look for the key  i.e.  \bibliography{references.bib}

overleaf linking references

4. Click Recompile

Select the references you'd like to add to your file and then click the Share button in the top menu.

screenshot refworks - references selected and arrow to share button

Then choose Export References

screenshot refworks share button circled, share menu expanded, export references circled.

Next, select Format BibTeX and click export.

screenshot refworks share/export references open format selected BibTex

Then in Overleaf, click on the upload button at the top of the left hand column.

overleaf highlight upload button

The file is uploaded. Copy and Paste the article key (highlighted below)

uploaded export.bib and highlighted article key

In your main.tex, cite your source. If using multiple bib files, they are listed in the same command as demonstrated

Bloom demonstrates this process~\cite{blum2021prompt}. Lucas has a different explanation~\cite{RefWorks:RefID:717-marie2020negotiating} \bibliographystyle{plain} \bibliography{references.bib, export.bib}

overleaf multiple bib

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