• How many BibDesk files?

I am using LaTeX (and BibDesk) for research only (i.e., to write papers, book chapters, dissertation, etc.), therefore I need to cite an overlapping selection of references in each of my documents. Do you suggest that I stick to one BibDesk file for my bibliography? So far I have been creating different files for different documents, including the files in the document's folder (e.g. paper_one.tex and paper_one.bib in folder 'paper_one', paper_two.tex and paper_two.bib in folder 'paper_two', etc.). What happens is that I sometimes make small corrections to typos and other mistakes in, say, my paper_three.bib file, but those corrections won't transfer to other papers' .bib files. That is the main reason why I am considering unifying my .bib files. Won't I have a folder problem if I do so?

  • Capitalization?

Different publishers require different capitalization styles. I have used curly brackets in my .bib title entries to keep the capitalization as inputed by me (title case capitalization). Now I am submitting to a different publisher which requires sentence case capitalization only, and I will have to remove my curly brackets from my .bib. Any suggestions with that?

  • 2
    Re Capitalisation: I think the best Idea is to use Title Case capitalisation in the title field protecting only those words that always need upper-casing. The BibTeX style file can then adjust the capitalisation itself, if sentence case be needed. (It is nearly impossible to let LaTeX capitalise words, but somewhat easier to make almost all characters lower case). So your title field would look like this title = {The Newest Findings of the {NASA}}...
    – moewe
    Commented Jan 2, 2014 at 12:43
  • 1
    ... But if your file has surplus curly braces, so that the field above is title = {The {Newest} {Findings} of the {NASA}}, you will have to remove the curly braces, as there is no way for LaTeX to know which words have to be let capitalised and which to lower-case for proper sentence style.
    – moewe
    Commented Jan 2, 2014 at 12:44
  • 1
    ... should they wish for sentence case, that's also fine, since you can just use a BibTeX style that converts the title field to sentence case, but you will not have to worry about the Bard of Avon finding his name beginning with a lower-case letter. Conversely, if you use curly braces to obtain title case with a style that by default applies sentence case, that entry will probably look like this: title = {We {Found} {Water} on the {Mars}}, there is no way to get that to proper sentence case, because everything in braces is left untouched.
    – moewe
    Commented Jan 2, 2014 at 21:11
  • 3
    If you put your bib files in ${TEXMFHOME}/bibtex/bib/, then biber or bibtex will find them no matter your working directory. You don't need to keep the bib files with the documents which require them.
    – cfr
    Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 0:02
  • 1
    And regarding one vs many .bib files: have one master file where everything goes. Then extract, if/when necessary, from it for a certain paper using tools designed for this purpose: there is bibtool if you are using BibTeX, and biber can also output a new .bib file containing only the entries you cited in your .tex file. Between these two options, there is never a need to maintain 'by hand' two or more different .bib files!
    – jon
    Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 14:56

2 Answers 2


I prefer to have one master file for all my documents, which not only makes it easier to keep it up to date (typo correction, etc.), but I also use it as my reference repository: whenever I run into a paper that I know I'll probably use, I know where to save the citation. Since I don't use a pdf organizer or the like, that bibdesk file is my de facto reference database.

However, sometimes I have to share my files with co-authors, and that's when my one-file setup doesn't work. In those cases, I actually copy the file right into the document's folder, and share the whole thing. If they return it with new additions, I eventually drag the new entries into my master file, and later change the citation keys to my liking, if needed.


I would endorse Pedro's reply. Like him I have one, "Master" BibDesk file. Mine currently is showing 9548 publication. Sometimes the entire thing crashes but that has no effect on the files it contains. [I keep all of this in a DropBox folder as that makes it feel more immune to random computer crashes and what not and also makes it easy to connect to OverLeaf.]

And, of course, I use this as an index that stores the actual documents (i.e., the pdfs), my notes on those documents (as .txt files produced in BBEdit), and Powerpoint Presentation slides (e.g., talks I have given at conferences or to classes).

  • BTW: I am an infrequent but not "new" contributor. I have also recently changed the structure of my Google accounts -- which (btw), in retrospect, I do not recommend. Commented Jan 26, 2022 at 16:07
  • I, too, have been experiencing frequent BibDesk crashes after upgrading to macOS Big Sur and higher. I haven’t found any solution yet (except to save any changes to the .bib file promptly). I would recommend removing the question in your final sentence, though, since it is generally discouraged on Stack Exchange to pose additional/tangential questions in the answers section. Commented Jan 30, 2022 at 11:16

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