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How do I modify a .bbl file to change the label which appears in my document when something is cited?

Despite indicating in this question that I know how to do this, I have forgotten and can't manage to google my way to an answer. Scott mentions in this answer that thisis possible.

EDIT: In response to some answers below, here is the typical entry of the .bbl file that bibtex produces:

\bib{abbotKR:picard}{article}{

   author={Abbott, Timothy~G.},
  author={Kedlaya, Kiran~S.},
  author={Roe, David},
   title={Bounding picard numbers of surfaces using p-adic cohomology},
    date={2007Jan},
  eprint={math/0601508},
     url={http://arxiv.org/abs/math/0601508},

}

And "\bib[label]{abbotKR:picard}{article}{" gives me errors. I'm using ucthesisnew.sty, which is probably the cause of this problem.

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I couldn't find any ucthesisnew.sty anywhere on the web (although I found a ucthesisnew.cls). But this has nothing to do with your problem. –  Lev Bishop Aug 12 '10 at 4:28
    
I tagged this with [amsrefs] according to the answers. If this is not what you meant, please remove the tag. –  Caramdir Aug 12 '10 at 9:15
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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Based on your revised question, it appears that you are using the amsrefs package. In this case, modify your .bbl by adding a label field, thusly:

\bib{abbotKR:picard}{article}{
   label={Picard},
  author={Abbott, Timothy~G.},
  author={Kedlaya, Kiran~S.},
  author={Roe, David},
   title={Bounding picard numbers of surfaces using p-adic cohomology},
    date={2007Jan},
  eprint={math/0601508},
     url={http://arxiv.org/abs/math/0601508},

}

and make sure to be using the alphabetic or shortalphabetic options to amsrefs

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This is modifying the .bib file, not the .bbl file. –  Charles Stewart Aug 12 '10 at 6:00
    
@Charles: You are wrong. Look up how the amsrefs package works. (It uses a special BST to copy the information from the .bib into the .bbl in a field={value} format). –  Lev Bishop Aug 12 '10 at 6:03
    
Indeed. I was surprised at what you had written, now I am pleasantly surprised at what amsrefs does. –  Charles Stewart Aug 12 '10 at 8:57
    
Awesome. This solved the label problem. One followup question: in the above example, \bib{abbotKR:picard} still appears at the beginning of the bibliography, instead of in the `P' section. Is there a way to fix this? –  David Zureick-Brown Aug 13 '10 at 15:47
1  
The sorting gets done by bibtex, so if you're editing the .bbl it's too late and you'll have to move it to the proper position by hand. –  Lev Bishop Aug 13 '10 at 19:37
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The answer to the question as originally written was trivial (because there was no mention of the fact that amsrefs was involved). If you want to change your reference to the paper by Breuer, Huber, and Petruccione in 1997 from [BHP97] to something like [Stochastic] then you open up the .bbl file and you find the entry, and change it from

\bibitem[BHP97]{breuer_stochastic_1997}
Heinz-Peter Breuer, Wolfgang Huber, and Francesco Petruccione.
\newblock Stochastic wave-function method versus density matrix: a numerical
  comparison.
\newblock {\em Computer Physics Communications}, 104(1-3):46--58, August 1997.

to

\bibitem[Stochastic]{breuer_stochastic_1997}
Heinz-Peter Breuer, Wolfgang Huber, and Francesco Petruccione.
\newblock Stochastic wave-function method versus density matrix: a numerical
  comparison.
\newblock {\em Computer Physics Communications}, 104(1-3):46--58, August 1997.

This answers the question you asked, but I suspect it is not the question that you meant to ask, is it?

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What I understand from your question is that you want to change how something is cited. For example, change it from (1) to (Knuth, 2010). What you have to do is, in any place before the \bibliography command, put \bibliographystyle{"some style here}. You can find a comprehensive list of styles here. Try also reading the natbib package documentation.

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