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Generating Your Bibliography

How to use SPIRES to generate a LaTeX bibliography

This service has just been released as a beta version. Feel free to use it, and send any bug reports/comments etc. to travis(AT)slac.stanford.edu If you have written your paper using this method, and you cannot get the service to work, email me and I'll make sure that we get your bibliography taken care of, by hand if neccessary.

Send us your paper and we will return a bibliography ready to insert at the bottom of your LaTeX file with all references properly formatted and ordered in the order you cited them. Simply follow these directions as you are writing your paper, and leave the reference management to us. Below are detailed instructions, or perhaps you'd rather see an example.

  1. Write your paper in LaTeX as usual. When you wish to cite a paper use the regular \cite{<bibkey>} command as usual. You have several options for the bibkey
    • hep-th/0001001 or any eprint number
    • PHRVA.D66.010001 or any journal reference in SPIRES' citation form (Note the periods separating the pieces!)
    • Phys.Rev.D66.010001 or any journal reference using typical abbreviations for the journal name (Note the periods again. Also note that we parse the abbreviation and choose the most likely match. For most journals this is unambiguous, but you might check your results carefully if you are citingless common journals)
    • Hagiwara:2002fs or any SPIRES LaTeX key for the paper
    • RPP or any other mnemonic alias you'd like to use. You must define your alias before (higher in the file) you \cite it. Define aliases via
      %%ALIAS=RPP=PHRVA.D66.010001%%
      where the alias can be defined to be any of the above forms of reference (eprint, LaTeX key, or journal)
    You may also want to remember the following tips when citing papers:
    • You can combine multiple references in one alias, using commas to separate them. Example:
      %%ALIAS=RPP=Phys.Rev.D66.010001,hep-ex/0101001%%
      These will appear as one single reference in your bibliography.
    • You can combine multiple references or aliases (or a combination of both) in one \cite command, again using commas to separate the references.Example:
      \cite{RPP,hep-ex/0101001}
      These will be cited separately in your bibliography.
    • Don't worry about whether you have cited something before, SPIRES will get the order right based on when you cited the references in the paper. You don't even have to use the same method to cite the paper each time. If you cite a paper as an eprint once and then a journal later in the paper, it will appear only once in your references, and a comment will appear at the location of the second reference, alerting you that a reference has already been created. You do, of course, need to use the same aliases every time you cite an alias.
    • If SPIRES can't figure out what you were trying to cite, a comment will appear in the bibliography at the location of the unresolved citation, and you can fill in the reference by hand, without worrying about the ordering.
    • The only allowed charcters in \cite commands or aliases are letters, numbers, -, /, :, and commas and periods. If your alias or bibkey contains something else, it will not be processed.
    • Journal citations are the least likely to work correctly, eprints are the most likely to work. Whatever name or bibkey you use to cite a paper, the reference will always look the same, so if you have a choice, use eprint as the identifier.
  2. Now that you've written your paper, email the paper to slaclib2@slac.stanford.edu with the word generate in the subject line of the email. You can use generate eu to create references in the European style (year before page). If you'd like the output in BiBTeX format, suitable for adding to you .bib file try generate bibtex, but beware that aliases to multiple articles (i.e. a nickname for many papers, cited as one) don't really work, since the .bib file expects separate entries for each paper. Note that this will generate BiBTeX output for the citations in you paper. You can't send a .bib file and get results this way. If you want to update your .bib file, try sending the subject generate bibfile. You can try sending the file as an attachment to the email, however, this sometimes fails to get all references. It will work better to cut and paste it directly into the body of the email.
  3. Wait a moment or two and you will receive a response with your bibliography, ready to go.
  4. Take a moment to make sure everything looks reasonable, and add references by hand for those that we couldn't resolve. Be alert! If we couldn't resolve it, there might be a typo in your reference. Remember to reorder your references if you make edits in the file, or simply resubmit to us.
  5. Post your paper to arXiv (or on your wall if you prefer!)

If the above instructions don't make sense, try having a look at this example. If you are still confused, let me know and I can help. If you tell me your questions I can make a better help page.

Thanks to Stan Brodsky, who initially suggested this service, and also helped find the numerous initial bugs. Thanks also to Niklas Beisert and Andy Buckley, who helped in the development of the BiBTeX side. All the bugs are my fault, not theirs!

While this service was developed independently, there are many related programs. Here are some links related programs that provide similar services:


SPIRES HEP is a joint project of SLAC, DESY & FNAL as well as the worldwide HEP community.
Mirrors: DESY (Germany), Fermilab (US), IHEP (Russia), Durham U. (UK), SLAC (US), YITP (Japan); LIPI (Indonesia);

Last Updated: 08/16/2007

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