When I compile my thesis the following error pops up:

Underfull \hbox (badness 1264) in paragraph at lines 61--61
[]\T1/ppl/m/n/12 ^^U^^U^^U.^^P  Naples 2008, or, the Waste Land: Trash, Citizenship, and an Ethic of
! Missing $ inserted.
<inserted text> 

This happens in latexmk, or in pdflatex after I run biber. Other posters reporting the same error often nail it down to an underscore in the bibtex entry, but this is clearly not the case here:

  author = {Iovino, Serenella},
  title = {Naples 2008, or, the Waste Land: Trash, Citizenship, and an Ethic of Narration},
  journaltitle = {Neohelicon},
  year = {2009},
  date = {2009-09},
  volume = {36},
  issue = {2},
  pages = {335--346},
  doi = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11059-009-0004-6},
  url = {http://www.springerlink.com/index/10.1007/s11059-009-0004-6},
  file = {iovino2009naples.pdf:iovino2009naples.pdf:PDF},
  pdf = {iovino2009naples.pdf}

What is happening? What can I do?

[EDIT] Here's a MWE as requested:

\documentclass[12pt, a4paper, twoside, openright, draft]{book}

Where the iovino2012wilderness entry is:

  author = {Iovino, Serenella},
  title = {The Wilderness of the Human Other: Italo Calvino's 'The Watcher' and a Reflection on the Future of Ecocriticism.},
  booktitle = {The Future of Ecocriticism},
  year = {2012},
  date = {2012},
  editor = {Serpil Oppermann, Ufuk \"{O}zda\breve{g}, Nevin \"{O}zkan and Scott
  urldate = {2012-12-09},
  file = {iovino2012wilderness.pdf:iovino2012wilderness.pdf:PDF},
  pdf = {iovino2012wilderness.pdf},
  shorttitle = {The Wilderness of the Human Other}

This still produces errors:

Missing $ inserted \end
You can't use `\spacefactor' in math mode \end
Missing $ inserted \end
  • 2
    I've just tried your bibtex entry and it does not give me any error. I'm using pdflatex and bibtex. What bibliography style are you using? Oct 17, 2013 at 9:37
  • 3
    there is something odd about that entry note ^^U^^U^^U.^^P N implies that you have control characters before the title, but the missing $ error is unconnected with the input you show, it occurs on the following page, the under-full bib entry is on page 106 and the error is on the next page, on line 61 of your source file (or one of your source files) Oct 17, 2013 at 10:16
  • Didac: I am using biblatex-mla. Oct 17, 2013 at 21:58
  • @DavidCarlisle The ^^U^^U^^U.^^P appear on the PDF as emdashes and are used to avoid repeating the author's name. Line 61 in my master document is blank. Line 60 is \appendix, but commenting that throws up the same error. Line 59 is \printbibliography. Commenting l.59 prevents the error from occurring but also does not print my bibliography. :( Oct 17, 2013 at 22:16
  • Would you be able to narrow down the problem to a nice self-contained MWE? The .bib entry posted above does not seem to be the culprit. Maybe it is the entry just before that in the bibliography (just a guess, might be off by quite some miles).
    – moewe
    Oct 17, 2013 at 22:18

1 Answer 1


This one was due to the \breve{g}. Eliminating it lets me compile the document. I am using \u{g} instead.

  • 3
    Indeed \breve{g} is a math mode command, while \u{g} produces a breve in text mode.
    – moewe
    Oct 18, 2013 at 6:32

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