I want to understand the relationships between a set of papers in a bibtex file, with regards to who authored what, and which references which, within the file.

Suppose the paper \cite{A} references \cite{B}, and both of them reference \cite{C}.

I want a BibTeX file that has this information, say like this:

    Author = {Mr A},
    Booktitle = {A Book},
    Title = {Title of A},
    Year = {2010},
    Internalrefs = {B,C}

    Author = {Mr B},
    Booktitle = {B Book},
    Title = {Title of B},
    Year = {2009},
    Internalrefs = {C}

    Author = {Mr C},
    Booktitle = {C Book},
    Title = {Title of C},
    Year = {1910},
    Internalrefs = {}

With that entry I could, for example, draw a directed graph of entries within the BibTeX file. I suppose I can do this with a custom field, but I wondered if it has been done, or if there is a better way.

I'd like to display for example

Metadata for paper A.  [B,C]
Metadata for paper B. [C]
Metadata for paper C.

Or alternatively just a graph with directed edges (A,B), (A,C), and possibly nodes for authors too, pointing to the papers they have published, and other authors they published with.

  • biblatex has a facility to have related references. can you add an example of what you want to achieve?
    – Guido
    Oct 3, 2013 at 12:32
  • I added an example at the end, and the purpose at the beginning of the post.
    – Alejandro
    Oct 3, 2013 at 14:30
  • biber (which requires the use of biblatex, can 'visualize the output' using GraphViz; is that what you mean?
    – jon
    Oct 3, 2013 at 17:26
  • biber seems to offer a cross referencing tool, but it is so that one entry can inherit from another. That is not what I want because it will change my bibliography.
    – Alejandro
    Oct 4, 2013 at 8:06

1 Answer 1


The BibTeX "crossref" field does what you want. For an example (I've stripped some irrelevant information):

title     = {Kleene Algebras and Semimodules for Energy Problems},
crossref  = {DBLP:conf/atva/2013}

title     = {Automated Technology for Verification and Analysis - 11th
           International Symposium, ATVA 2013, Hanoi, Vietnam, October
           15-18, 2013. Proceedings},
booktitle = {ATVA},
publisher = {Springer}

Now for a tool which uses crossrefs to extract a directed citation graph; this would certainly be cool, but I've never ran across any.

  • 1
    I'm close to creating one by making a special template for Bibdesk that exports the citations to a Sage software Digraph(). Perhaps I'll check back when that is done.
    – Alejandro
    Oct 3, 2013 at 15:21
  • With the changes you made to the question, my answer is now wrong: "crossref" does not do what you want. (You almost say so yourself at your last comment to the question.) Aug 1, 2014 at 13:34

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