I have some .bib files whose formatting is kind of messy: spacing, upper/lowercase use, order within and among entries... ugh. Is there a simple command-line utility which could arrange it neatly for me in a uniform format?

  • 2
    biber can do it. – Ulrike Fischer Jun 26 '14 at 11:49
  • 1
    Also Emacs can do it. – egreg Jun 26 '14 at 12:25
  • 1
    @egreg: I said utility, not a self-contained operation system... :-) – einpoklum Jun 26 '14 at 12:27
  • @egreg an answer? – cmhughes Jun 26 '14 at 14:18
  • @egreg: You don't have to wait that I have time to expand a comment. I really don't mind if someone adds an answer based one of my comments. Btw: Since biber 2.9. you can use hyphens instead of underlines in the options. So output-align etc works too. – Ulrike Fischer Jun 26 '14 at 14:52

Option 1: With Emacs (in BibTeX mode), placing the cursor at the beginning of an entry and pressing C-v C-Q does bibtex-fill-entry, that can be customized in various ways.

Option 2: Biber has reformatting capabilities:

biber --tool --output_align --output_indent=2 --output_fieldcase=lower <filename>.bib

will produce <filename>_bibertool.bib with similar effects; I've shown some of the possible options. Biber is not limited to reformatting; fields can be removed and other changes are possible, see the manual.

  • Is biber available with all common distros? Is it part of a package? – einpoklum Jun 26 '14 at 22:33
  • @einpoklum It has been for some years, you need to issue that command from the command line. – egreg Jun 26 '14 at 22:36
  • 1
    It's not installed by default with MiKTeX 2.9; but it does come as a package. – einpoklum Jun 27 '14 at 6:50
  • In emacs, there is the menu item BibTeX-Edit > Operating on Buffer or Region > Reformat Entries which will deal more than one entry at a time. – Andrew Swann May 5 '15 at 7:08
  • biber works for me. Although I don't like it's default alignment. – einpoklum May 6 '15 at 9:11

There are some BibTex utilities on CTAN:
The following two sound like they will do exactly what you asked for:

  • I'm having trouble getting those working as part of TexLive. Link? – einpoklum May 6 '15 at 9:02
  • I don't know if these tools are included in the Texlive and/or MikTex distribution. What operating systems are you on? On Ubuntu installation is as easy as sudo apt-get install bibtool. – matth May 6 '15 at 12:30
  • related: tex.stackexchange.com/questions/180840/… – matth May 6 '15 at 12:32
  • Windows. But I will say biber, which is included with TeXLive, now works-for-me, so I don't think I'll dig into this too deeply. – einpoklum May 6 '15 at 14:36

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