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I've just been revisiting bibliographies, and trying to manage them with Jabref. I seem to have found something wrong with @strings (or my understanding of them). In my pre-Jabref .bib file, I have:

@string{pok = "Poughkeepsie, NY"}
  location    = pok,

which in my .bbl file becomes, by courtesy of biber and BibLaTeX,

  {Poughkeepsie, NY}%

Now, after Jabref, my .bib file looks like this:

@STRING{pok = {Poughkeepsie, NY}}
  location = {#pok#},

which fails to expand correctly in my .bbl file, causing a LaTeX error when it gets imbedded:


My questions are:

  • Am I doing something wrong and if so, how do I correct it?
  • Where is the definitive @string syntax and semantics reference for .bib files?
  • Is there a problem with Jabref and/or biber?

Note: I haven't provided a full MWE, as I believe the snippets fully illustrate the problem; but I'll be happy to provide one if the snippets are thought inadequate.


From the BibTeX website:

When quotation-marks are used, string concatenation using # is possible, but not when braces are used.

Which suggests that Jabref might be in error. A view has also been exposed in the SF Jabref forums that Jabref itself should convert @strings to their expanded values, with another, Jabref-specific, mechanism for handling abbreviations which removes the need for biber to do this. Not sure I'm entirely happy with that, though.

Thanks to @Fran for reminding me: in my case, shorttitle is also messed up, while author, title, and publisher are handled correctly.

@Fran's answer solves the problem. I apologise for any premature aspersions on Jabref.

share|improve this question
It should be location=pok, AFAIK. If JabRef writes out location={#pok#} then it's doing an utterly wrong thing. BibTeX doesn't do string substitutions in braced (or doubly quoted) fields and I believe Biber is the same. – egreg Jan 26 '13 at 14:01
@egreg : That was rather what I felt, though I was a bit hesitant to call bug on jabref. – Brent.Longborough Jan 26 '13 at 14:13
Seem a problem with field location only: in address or editor fields the entry #pok# is saved correctly as pok without {}. – Fran Jan 26 '13 at 18:03
up vote 6 down vote accepted

In menu Options -> Preferences -> File ->

Select the radio button "Resolve strings for all fields except:" instead of "Resolve strings for standard BibTeX fields only".

share|improve this answer
Many thanks, indeed! – Brent.Longborough Jan 26 '13 at 22:29

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