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Simply put I want to know what steps I need to take to start biber with biblatex. I haven't been able to find any proper tutorials or guides showing how you go about using it instead of BibTeX.

  • What is biber's syntax?
  • How do you compile?
  • Etc.

Are there any tutorials or guides available?

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Related question: bibtex vs. biber and biblatex vs. natbib –  doncherry Aug 25 '11 at 13:15
biber is a replacement for BibTeX; you should use the backend=biber option when loading biblatex. Type biber --help in a terminal to get basic documentation. –  Gonzalo Medina Aug 25 '11 at 13:18

2 Answers 2

up vote 39 down vote accepted

Here is a MWE (not really minimum, but showing some options) that should get you started. Other possible values for the biblatex options are described in the biblatex documentation.





%% ##############################
    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet~\citep{kastenholz}.
    At vero eos et accusam et justo duo dolores et ea rebum~\citet{sigfridsson}.

To compile you should now call pdflatex, biber, pdflatex.
biber operates on the .bcf file, so either use biber %.bcf or (even better) just biber %, where % stands for the basename of your main .tex file.

biblatex-examples.bib is a file that comes with your TeX distribution, you can find it at TEXMF/bibtex/bib/biblatex.biblatex-examples.bibor online. It can be used for testing. Use a different filename for your own .bib file.

The natbib=true option allows you to use citep and citet style citations in you text. This is mainly for compatibility with old code. For new code, use \textcite{} and \parencite{} instead. biblatex knows some more cite commands like \autocite{} or \footcite{}. These are described in the biblatex documentation.

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@matth: Could you please tell me why your MWE doesn't work for me? github.com/MartinThoma/LaTeX-examples/tree/master/documents/… - I compile it with the Makefile –  moose May 12 '13 at 15:30
@moose See my updated answer, if that doesn't help, ask again. –  matth May 13 '13 at 11:25

run texdoc biber from the command line and you'll get the documentation. However, using biber as a replacement for bibtex you have to define the backend with


and then change your bibtex run into a biber one, that is all.

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So you continue using the same syntax as bibtex uses? –  benregn Aug 25 '11 at 13:30
@benreqn. Could you specify which syntax you mean? In the LaTeX document, things stay the same apart from the biblatex changes. In the .bib file, things stay the same although one or two fields are renamed. –  Joseph Wright Aug 25 '11 at 13:42
in general yes. There is only a need for parameters if your document is of another encoding as the bib data file is. –  Herbert Aug 25 '11 at 13:42
@Joseph Wright: By syntax I mean the markup of the .bib file. E.g. @article{keyword, title="Spy vs. Spy"} –  benregn Aug 26 '11 at 15:05
@benregn It took me a while to figure this out but when Herbert said to "change your bibtex run into a biber one", you may need to change the default script that your program is running. The biber manual gives an example for EMacs and TeXWorks but in TeXShop you go to the engine tab and change the bibtex engine to biber. Also, I had to use bibfile.bib (instead of just bibfile) for it to find my library. Hope this helps someone... –  Dominik Nov 8 '11 at 2:40

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