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What does this error message from BibDesk mean?

warning: found " at brace-depth zero in string (TeX accents in BibTeX should be inside braces)

Does it mean I can't use \"{a} in BibTeX? Instead should I use {\"a}? That sounds weird. Please help me clarify the issues around this warning message.

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The {\"{a}} or {\"a} input may seem weird, but it's required by BibTeX rules. – egreg Sep 1 '12 at 21:43
@egreg That sounds like an answer in the making to me :-) – Joseph Wright Sep 1 '12 at 21:51
@ereg While \"{a} works in .tex, is there any reason for the BibTeX rules to avoid it? – Chang Sep 1 '12 at 22:11
up vote 8 down vote accepted

The input {\"{a}} or, more simply, {\"a} is required by BibTeX rules. This has to do, I believe, with the possibility of delimiting fields either with braces or double quotes.

Note that this syntax is needed also for the other accents in order to ensure correct sorting (according to English rules) of authors' names.

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Sidenote: for people converting their endnote libraries to bibdesk, this may mean that there are quotation marks in a field (such as the abstract) that bibdesk is trying to read as formatting. To get rid of all of these, I went through the text file generated by endnote, and deleted all qoutation marks in the abstract sections. That got rid of all these errors.

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Welcome to TeX.SX! – Heiko Oberdiek May 14 '14 at 14:55

The answer by @egreg is good but does not address the BibDesk gui itself. In BibDesk, both {\"{a}} and {\"a} are acceptable but you may still see the error until you restart BibDesk or at least reopen the .bib file. I haven't found any other way to get the error messages to update.

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Welcome to TeX.SX! That may be a bug of BibDesk. Anyway, my answer covers both cases as acceptable. – egreg Jul 31 '15 at 17:11

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