I'm new to LaTeX, and have managed to transfer an essay I'd written in Word into LaTeX fairly satisfactorily, but I'm now trying to sort out the bibliography using BibTeX and I'm completely lost. I have a number of questions.

Should I be using BibTeX or BibLaTeX?

What do I need to put into my LaTeX document and where (i.e. in the preamble or where the bibliography should go)?

I want to use a special bibliography style called lsalike. There are two files, one .bst and one .sty - do I need both of these or just the .bst and where do I put them? (I'm using OS X/a MacBook and TeXShop.) How do I use this style in LaTeX? I believe the style will have small caps for the authors' names (though I can't confirm as I've not got it working yet!) - how do I turn this feature off?

How do I get special symbols in BibTeX entries? (A number of the authors have 'foreign' characters in their names, as do some of the titles.)

Sorry for so many questions and ones that have no doubt been answered before, but I could really do with some help!


1 Answer 1


I think you should use biblatex and biber, not bibtex: the main reasons being that 1) biber understands utf8 encoding, so that accented characters, greek, arabic or chinese will not be a problem; 2) biblatex is much easier to customise (if necessary) than bibtex, as it uses latex-style commands, unlike bibtex, which has a language of its own that uses reverse polish notation.

Your document, as regards the bibliography commands, should contain these lines (for an author-year style; and first names initialised):

\usepackage[backend=biber, style=authoryear, firstinits]{biblatex}



I supposed you want one bibliography, at the end of your essay. But with biblatex, you can have multiple bibliographies, bibliographies with sections, &c.

The simplest way to have a correct .bib file in utf8 encoding is to use JabRef, which provides a convenient interface and will warn you if something goes wrong on filling the different fields. Don't forget to choose the encoding (it's not utf8 by default) via Options -> Preferences -> General.

  • Thanks Bernard. So if I wanted to use lsalike instead of authoryear, I'd just do a straight swap? Where should lsalike be on my system in order for it to find it? I'll give this a go when I get a chance and get back to you if I'm still stuck!
    – yndajas
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 23:15
  • I don't know: never heard of it (I'm not a specialist of bib style files). With biblatex, it goes through .bbx files, not .bst's So just swapping supposes there exists an isalike.bbx file (and an isalike.cbx for citations, if you use them). As far as I know, it doesn'exist, so it should be created, mainly starting from one of the existing basic styles (alphabetic, author-year, author-title, numeric) and adding a few commands/patches to modify the output where necessary.
    – Bernard
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 23:22
  • I have no idea how you would do that, so would I need to use natbib/BibTeX in the absence of .bbx and .cbx files?
    – yndajas
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 23:25
  • 2
    just a heads up ... if you are intending to submit what you write to a particular publisher, do check on what that publisher requests. it may be that what you find most convenient is not what the publisher can use, and the reason is not sheer cussedness, but the fact that in order to meet deadlines and produce journals that look consistent, certain procedures have been set up, and it is possible to change those procedures only glacially. sad but true. Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 23:31
  • 3
    @andylaw31: this link: tex.stackexchange.com/questions/71567/… might be of interest.
    – Bernard
    Commented Mar 1, 2014 at 3:13

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