Using bibtool to fix your BibTeX databases.

Downloading BibTeX citations from review sites (e.g. MathSciNet, WebOfKnowledge) doesn’t always get you consistent results. Sometimes the case is messed up, there are extra braces, etc. Or there is a note field showing the number of citations (which shows up in your final PDF output). Moreover the citation keys are often of the form MR673830, which is useless unless you’re a computer. Here’s an easy way to fix most of these problems using BibTool.

Here’s how you use it:

  1. Create a ~/.bibtoolrsc file with your preferences. You can edit my preferences to suit your taste if you like.

  2. Filter your bibliography through bibtool:

    bibtool < downloaded_refs.bib > cleaned_up_refs.bib

    Or, if you use vim you can just do


    when editing your bibliography file.

  3. That’s it. You might have to fix the case of a few words in the title here and there (e.g. writing {G}alton-{W}atson instead of Galton-Watson, etc.).


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