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I am fairly new to latex, but I have already written a few papers using it on my computer. I am now working on a new computer. I made a regular .bib file and used ~\cite as usual. I compiled it using texworks, but all I got in the end of the pdf document, where the \bibliography tag was at the latex file, is just a list of numbers without the actual text of the authors' name, title etc.

What am I doing wrong?

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Please add a fully compilable minimal working example (MWE) that illustrates your problem. –  canaaerus Jul 27 '12 at 9:09
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This can happen when there are syntax errors in the .bib file. You should look at the .blg file produced when running BibTeX. –  egreg Jul 27 '12 at 9:35
    
@egreg - thanks! that was it! I had comments (% comment) in places where it wasn't legal in the bib file. If you'd like, you should write this comment as an answer to get full credit :) if not I'll do it... –  olamundo Jul 27 '12 at 11:31
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up vote 7 down vote accepted

The "only numbers" in the bibliography is a typical effect of having syntax errors in the .bib file. A check in the .blg file produced when running BibTeX usually sheds light on the business.

In particular, % character inside bibliographic entries are not comments (they are outside them, for instance at the beginning of the file). In order to comment a field, say note, the best strategy os to change its name; for instance, with

Xnote={Some note we don't want to appear, but we like to have in the file},

the Xnote field will be ignored. Removing the X would turn the field into a good one.

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