TeX - LaTeX Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for users of TeX, LaTeX, ConTeXt, and related typesetting systems. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I just spent an hour trying to understand Bibtex, but I find it very hard to find simple instructions. I even read half of the manual. I put this in my LaTeX file report.ex:

% preamble


% ...
% document

blaha \cite{guyton-hall}


In refs.bib, I put:

    author = {Guyton, Arthur C. and Hall, John E.},
    day = {01},
    edition = {11},
    howpublished = {Hardcover},
    isbn = {0721602401},
    keywords = {physiology},
    month = sep,
    publisher = {Elsevier Saunders},
    title = {Textbook of medical physiology},
    year = {2006}

What now? The manual talked about running bibtex on my AUX file, but then bibtex complains:

$ bibtex report
This is BibTeX, Version 0.99c (TeX Live 2009/Debian)
The top-level auxiliary file: report.aux
I found no \citation commands---while reading file report.aux
I found no \bibdata command---while reading file report.aux
I found no \bibstyle command---while reading file report.aux
(There were 3 error messages)

That happens after running pdflatex report.tex a couple of times. What am I doing wrong? And why is it so hard?

(And why should I even run bibtex when I'm using biblatex and biber?)

share|improve this question
@lockstep: It worked! Thank you! Any idea what I could do if I want biber? – Andreas Dec 16 '11 at 15:55
The reason I used biber first was that biblatex told me so due to UTF8 encoding. Later, I also read in the manual that bibtex and bibtex8 have problems with long citation lists. – Andreas Dec 16 '11 at 15:56
I'm not sure I'm following. Did you run bibtex, biber or both? biber should be available if you have an up to day install of TeXLive. – qubyte Dec 16 '11 at 16:02
@Mark: Biber was not available, so maybe 2009 (in the Ubuntu reps) isn't up to day. – Andreas Dec 16 '11 at 16:03
@lockstep: Thank you very much! – Andreas Dec 16 '11 at 16:03
up vote 9 down vote accepted

You must either use biber as backend or (in case biber isn't available) issue \usepackage[backend=bibtex8]{biblatex} in the preamble. Consider to use latexmk to compile your .tex document -- it will automatically detect if bibtex or biber should be used as a backend.

See also What to do to switch to biblatex? and bibtex vs. biber and biblatex vs. natbib.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.