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Is there any source where I can find the required fields in my bibliography file to refer to a chapter within a book? I found @inbook, but I cannot find the fields (author=, chapter=... ). In general it would be nice to know what are all the possible fields for each type of reference i.e. @article, @book, @unpublished and so forth.

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en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BibTeX – Willie Wong Aug 30 '10 at 8:38
Or if you use a bibliography manager (such as JabRef), you can let the program keep track of what possible fields are. – Willie Wong Aug 30 '10 at 8:40
See my answer to another question for a good resource for all the field types for the various reference types. – vanden Aug 30 '10 at 16:47
up vote 19 down vote accepted

I think the best policy is never to talk of chapter numbers in the reflist at all, and move talk of chapter numbers, on the few occasions they are needed, to the citation in the main text. But of course you can't always choose. So, if you must use a particular Bibtex style that uses chapters, then include them in your *.bib files, and avoid Bibtex styles that allow you to refer to chapter numbers in the reference list whenever you can.

Notes on citation style

Citation styles vary, but IMO the cleanest policy is the following:

  • Do not refer to chapters in the reference list (i.e., what Bibtex calls the bibliography, but the {thebibliography} environment calls the References section/chapter), and refer only to page numbers in references for articles in journals and collected articles;
  • Citations of chapters and page numbers within works cited in the reflist should consist of the identifier of the work cited in the reflist, together with the specification of the part of the work of interest;
  • Volume numbers are trickier... I could say more, but for the sake of brevity, I won't.

This policy is followed by The Chicago Manual of Style and the Publication Manual of the APA, and is supported by the {natbib} and {apalike} Bibtex styles.



  • Boolos, G., 1971/1998. 'The iterative conception of set'. In R.C. Jeffrey (ed.), Logic, Logic, and Logic, Harvard University Press, pp. 13-29. First published, The Journal of Philosophy, 68:215-232.
  • Johnstone, P.T., 1987. Notes on Logic and Set Theory. Cambridge University Press.

(We are interested in chapter one of the collected articles of George Boolos, a fact we never mention, since we have the title of the chapter and the page numbers in the reflist. We are interested in three chapters of Peter Johnstone's work, which we don't mention in the reflist, but do in the citation in the main text).

Citations in main text

The cumulative hierarchy had a long prior history, but was not taken seriously as the intellectual foundation of Zermelo-Fränkel set theory until the landmark work of Boolos (1971). In the following, we shall assume the treatment of ZFC given by Johnstone (1987, chapters 5-7).

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Don't use @inbook ever for anything. Use one of the following, depending on the situation:

  • @book and \cite[Chapter~5]{foo} for a monograph.

  • @incollection for a book in which each chapter has a different author. Then the relevant fields are booktitle= and title=; this is similar to @inproceedings.

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In some rare cases, @inbook can be appropriate, e.g. for an introduction by author X in a book by author Y. With biblatex, @inbook is also useful for articles in a volume of collected works by one author. – domwass Nov 10 '10 at 11:03
@domwass: For the first, Chicago recommends using "introduction to", "afterword to", &c., for such things, which is a bit like @inbook, but unfortunately incompatible with how it is used in the Bibtex styles I know (maybe Biblatex can support this, I don't know). For the second, I don't understand the preference for @inbook over @incollection: are these separate chapters untitled? – Charles Stewart Nov 19 '10 at 9:15
@Charles: Yes, biblatex supports things like introduction, afterword etc. Regarding my second example, there is no big advantage in using @inbook instead of @incollection, I have to admit. There is one overall author, who is the same for every article, and one overall editor. I think (but I have not checked) that biblatex could handle this case differently in that it omits the book author (since it is the same as the author of the single article) or replaces him by “idem”. – domwass Nov 19 '10 at 14:54
It would help if you edited your answer to include some explanation. "Don't use inbook, ever" is much less useful than "Don't use inbook, ever, because (...)". As it stands, this is just your personal opinion, with no facts, evidence, justification, or other information to back up your opinion. – D.W. Oct 23 '14 at 22:32
@JukkaSuomela, nonetheless, my point stands. As it is, this is just opinion, with no justification or explanation given. (Incidentally, people vote for all sorts of reasons. I've seen incorrect answers and bad advice upvoted many times on other sites I participate in, so I happen to know first-hand that a high vote count is not a fool-proof sign that the answer is good. Surely there is a better justification for your answer than the vote total.) – D.W. Oct 23 '14 at 22:40

For the various fields, I usually check the BibTeX article in Wikipedia. I believe you want @inbook to cite a chapter. Normally, I'll just write \cite[Chapter~5]{foo}, though.

From the Wikipedia link, the required fields for @inbook are: author/editor, title, chapter/pages, publisher, year and the optional fields are volume, series, address, edition, month, note, key.

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@inpart? I've never seen that one. Don't you mean @inbook as the OP stated? One of chapter and pages is required for that. – Willie Wong Aug 30 '10 at 8:43
Didn't find @inpart in Wikipedia, I'm using @inbook with a note= to include the author of the chapter. I will not use \cite[Chapter~5]{foo} because I'm unsure 'bout how this affects the style of a particular journal. Cheers! – Trevis Aug 30 '10 at 8:58
Yes, yes I did. I'm not sure where I got @inpart from. Hasty typing, I suppose. Will fix. – TH. Aug 30 '10 at 9:15
@Trevis: if you have different authors for different chapters, you are better off using @incollection, unless you have a case where a book with a primary author includes a chapter/appendix by someone else, in which case your solution will give clearer information. – Willie Wong Aug 30 '10 at 10:44
@TH. I've slightly edited your answer hoping to improve it, and keep the relevant information up front. Of course feel free to revert my edits if you feel they misrepresent your original answer. – Juan A. Navarro Aug 30 '10 at 11:08

It should be noted that biblatex uses the @inbook type in a different way than traditional BibTeX, namely

for a self-contained part of a book with its own title [...]. It relates to @book just like @incollection relates to @collection. [p. 28 of the biblatex manual]

To give a practical example, this type is useful for an introductory essay to a legal commentary.

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