Quick recipe for a bibliography with BibTeX

I like typing math homework in \LaTeX if I have the time, and lately I’ve wanted to find an easier way to cite sources and create a bibliography at the end of a paper, should I use any.

One way I’ve probably used in the past is to just list out all the information as it’s bound to be displayed in the document.

But this is tedious.

A far quicker and easier way is to use BibTeX, which was hardly straightforward at first (why I’m writing this quick little tutorial for my future self and others).

First, go look look up your text on MathSciNet. We’ll look up the same text I’ve listed above. At the top we have the option to get BibTeX information from the drop down menu:

Now copy/paste this information into a file *.bib (you may name it whatever you’d like). At the bottom of your \TeX document before \end{document} put the following lines:

There are many different styles you can choose from, I’ve just kept it basic.

Now we recompile using pdflatex and bibtex – I’ve written the following simple bash script to automate the process if you’re in the same directory as the file.

I think I also saw it in one of the Stack Exchange forums where someone suggested Python, so I wrote the following little script too.

Because I’m more comfortable with Python than Bash, I tried to make the script pretty flexible. Running either of these produces the results we were expecting on a sample document:


An example compiled source.


Now all you have to do is include \cite{MR986070} in the spots you wish to reference [1] (and I wish it were this simple in WordPress too :P). I’m sure there are other nifty tricks and details I’ve overlooked or haven’t come across yet, but I think this is the gist of it.

In the code I uploaded to GitHub for future reference I’ve also included a bunch of if-statements to remove files that clutter the directory, but these are of course optional.