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Most of my citations have are websites, so I have filled the url field in BibTeX. However, with apalike2, it does not show them, so I put an \url{…} into there as well, copying the URL. For electronic documents, that is nice to click on, but I assume that somebody will print them and need to type everthing.

Is there a good way to make short links (with a link shortener like bit.ly) for those entries automatically? If not, I'd program some Python script to do that.

Or is that not considered handy in the first place?

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Can you please explain what you mean with short links? Best would be an existing bib entry, what you get and what you want. – Kurt Jun 21 '13 at 18:31

I assume you mean using a link shortener like bit.ly or tinyurl?

Personally I would caution against using a link shortener in a printed document (or just generally). Your reference then relies on the link shortener staying active. Link shortening services don’t last forever, and if somebody wants to access a reference and the service has closed down, then your link becomes useless to them. (This is called “link rot”.)

I think the best practice is to minimise the number of URL references, and where you use them, get as much information as possible, just as you would for any other reference. Ideally you want enough information that somebody could find the page with a Google search, and not having to type in a URL. That way, somebody can find the page if they don’t want to type in a URL, or if the URL of the page changes (which often happens).

An interesting approach that I once saw to this problem was to use a Python script to embed a QR code with the URL. The reader could scan the QR code to get the full URL, without having to type it in themselves. Probably not appropriate for an academic document, but interesting nonetheless.

The Internet is a source of many wonderful things. Sadly, permanent references, link shortened or not, is not among them.

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I was thinking of supplying the shortened link additionally. Short URLs do not say anything, and they might not be permanent. QR Code is pretty cool. But if somebody has a smartphone, they might end up reading my document as a PDF there anyway. – Martin Ueding Jun 21 '13 at 19:49

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