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I am learning Bibtex and am doing well with those references which I can find with google scholar. But I need to cite an unpublished preprint Combinatorial Group Theory In Homotopy Theory I by Fred R Cohen, available at his web page.

Is there a standard format for situations like this? I need to cite another preprint which is not even available on web site; I contacted the authors personally to get a copy. How should I cite it using Bibtex in this case?

Hopefully this question is not a duplicate. I tried to search this site and found this related question, but the question is not exactly the same as what I want to ask and there is no answer for the question so far.

  • Which bibliography style do you use? – Mico Dec 23 '14 at 8:11
  • @Mico, \bibliographystyle{plain}. Actually I am quite new to bibtex and have no idea which one I should use. – Zuriel Dec 23 '14 at 8:12
  • Since you're using the plain bibliography style, you could use either the type @unpublished or the catch-all type @misc. For either type, use the note field to provide URL and similar information. Which bibliography style you should (or must) use depends importantly on the style guidelines of the journal or outfit you wish to submit your paper to. – Mico Dec 23 '14 at 8:17
  • @Mico, I am not familiar with it; could you please give me an example? – Zuriel Dec 23 '14 at 8:18
  • Any introduction to BibTeX explains nicely which entry types recognize which fields. – Mico Dec 23 '14 at 8:20
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(This is a compilation of some of the comments I provided when the query was first posted.)

Since you're using the plain bibliography style, you could use either the @unpublished entry type or the catch-all @misc entry type for the paper at hand. With either of these two entry types, I suggest you use the note field to provide URL and similar information. Incidentally, based on the description you've provided, I would not use the entry type @techreport for this paper. The @techreport entry type should be used primarily for items issued as part of a working paper series, discussion paper series, or similarly numbered series of papers. That's why the @techreport entry type has fields such as institution (required) and type and number (optional).

Aside: which bibliography style you should -- or must -- use depends importantly on the style guidelines of the journal or outfit you intend to submit your paper to. One of the main advantages of using BibTeX (or, say, biblatex) for generating bibliographies and citation call-outs is that it's straightforward to switch between (pre-defined) bibliography styles.

Regarding your first follow-up question,

Can I always trust the entry generated by google scohlar? Occasionally I found typos there.

As a general rule, you should always double-check the correctness of all entries you've obtained online. In my experience, even bibliographic information derived from the publishers' own websites isn't 100 percent reliable.

You also asked,

I found this description: @Unpublished: A document having an author and title, but not formally published. Required fields: author, title, note. Optional fields: month, year. What is the required field "note"? ... It says that a note is "Any additional information that can help the reader." Then why it is required instead of optional? ... if I write "note={preprint on webpage at math.rochester.edu/people/faculty/cohf}", is it considered enough and suitable?

For entries of type @unpublished, the note field generally contains information about the author's institutional affiliation (if known), a web address, and any other pieces of information which may be important and helpful to the reader and which do not belong in any of the other fields.

If you've loaded the url and/or hyperref packages, you could (should, actually...) encase any URL strings inside note fields in a \url{...} directive. E.g., you might write

note={preprint on webpage at \url{math.rochester.edu/people/faculty/cohf}},

This will help LaTeX find a decent line break in the URL string, should It be necessary to do so.

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    Just today a friend mentioned that annoyingly a publisher's own bibtex entry (provided on their website) was faulty. So yes, I just want to second the "always double check" part. – Jemus42 Jul 4 '18 at 19:07

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