I just discovered reftex and am very happy with it, including the manual. However, I am not too happy with how the path to the bibliography file is set and would like to change it, but haven't found out how.

Because I frequently work on a latex manuscript with coauthors and we generally use a version management system such as SVN or Mercurial, I cannot keep my references in a central database. Instead, I keep a separate .bib file for each manuscript I'm working on which is kept in the same directory as the .tex files. I have been unable to make reftex recognize the presence of this local .bib file when I type C-c [ in emacs.

Looking into the manual, I had to resort to inserting the following snippet in my default .emacs file to make C-c [ work:

(setq reftex-default-bibliography '("/some/path/foo.bib"))

This is unsatisfactory, since everytime I start a new manuscript with a slightly different bibliography, I need to modify my .emacs file as well.

Is there an alternative procedure that would make reftex recognize a local .bib file without having to modify .emacs each time I start a new manuscript?

1 Answer 1


Just discovered how to resolve this. Part of the problem was that the tex document comprised one master file and other source files which were being included from the master. All I had to do was add the following

%%% Local Variables: 
%%% mode: latex
%%% TeX-master: "NAME_OF_MASTER_FILE"
%%% End:

at the bottom of each file except the master. Then reftex is able to sort out the rest.

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