Preliminary remark

This problem is constantly annoying me, so I'd like to find a solution. From my experience with biber I thought I would just need to copy/rename some files created by bibtex to make it work (see my examples below), but with bibtex it seems to be not that easy.
So my second idea seems more practical: extracting the list of cited references and then citing all of them with a nocite command (see details of my idea below):

Background of my question

I'm often using the "compile region" command in Emacs auctex-mode to compile only the current paragraph and quickly see, if my editing had the wished result.

However, citations are not handled properly, as in the region there is only a subset of the references cited, so the numeric citekey [95] is different (and that can have also consequences on linebreaks and typesetting.

So I'd like to find a way to let the region use the same (long) list of references as the complete document and cite accordingly.

Some ideas for a solution (my knowledge is not sufficient to make it work automagically)

  • Maybe it would make sense to regularly extract all cited references from the main document and then somehow add a \nocite{ref1, ref2, ... ref350} command to the region file.
    Maybe I should create a custom bibliography file for the main file and just add \nocite{*} to the preamble. This would only be problematic when citing new references, then I would have to refresh the custom .bib file...

    • how can I extract the cited references of the master document?
    • can I modify the region file in auctex and append a \nocite{ref1, ref2, ..., refn) command, which uses the extracted list of references?
    • alternatively: could I create a custom bibliography file for the master file which only contains the cited references and then add \nocite{*} to my preamble?
      But then: what if I would remove all citations of one of those references from the text body? Can I then still find out in the aux files, which ones are only cited via nocite and which ones are really cited by a \cite{) (or similar) command?
  • Can I copy some of the original files to _region_.... and thus let the region use the same bibliography order and numbers?

  • If I copy the .aux file from the main document to _region_.aux, I get the correct numbering of my references, but this aux file is overwritten at each latex run. Furthermore, typesetting/placing of some tables and floats like longtables etc. might take 2 pdflatex runs and by just overwriting the .aux file before each pdflatex run, I assume I'd loose information necessary for the second pdflatex run.

  • the order and numbering of the references seems to be written in lines like this one: \abx@aux@number{25}{chiu}{0}{20}. Might it make sense to grab just those lines from the aux file of the complete document and append them to the _region_.aux file? I am not successful with my large document, as those lines seem to be overwritten each time I compile with pdflatex.
    I tried like that: grep -i \abx@aux@number main.aux >> _region_.aux, but that has no effect - particularly, as in region.aux there are no similar lines created if I compile the document from auctex, but still the same source gets another numerical cite key...


Main file BibtexRegion_FullDocument.tex


\usepackage[natbib=true, style=numeric-comp, backend=bibtex8, defernumbers, useprefix,firstinits=true, maxnames=99, maxcitenames=3]{biblatex}  % für bessere Literaturverzeichnisse



This document has 2 paragraphs. This is the first one.

This is the second one and it cites \textcite{chiu}.


  • this works in with TeXLive 2014, as it uses the biblatex example bibliography.

result: \cite{chiu} becomes [20] enter image description here

Auctex creates the following region file _region_.tex:

If I only mark the second paragraph, and compile the region, auctex creates the following tex file

\message{ !name(BibtexRegion_FullDocument.tex)}


\usepackage[natbib=true, style=numeric-comp, backend=bibtex8, defernumbers, useprefix,firstinits=true, maxnames=99, maxcitenames=3]{biblatex}  % für bessere Literaturverzeichnisse


\message{ !name(BibtexRegion_FullDocument.tex) !offset(4) }
This is the second one and it cites \textcite{chiu}.
\message{ !name(BibtexRegion_FullDocument.tex) !offset(6) }


Result: \cite{chiu} becomes 1 - how can I get [20] here too?

enter image description here

Files in directory

-rw-r--r--   1 mbg4  admin     306  6 Mär 11:05 BibtexRegion_FullDocument-blx.bib
-rw-r--r--   1 mbg4  admin    3933  6 Mär 11:05 BibtexRegion_FullDocument.aux
-rw-r--r--   1 mbg4  admin   84175  6 Mär 11:05 BibtexRegion_FullDocument.bbl
-rw-r--r--   1 mbg4  admin    1986  6 Mär 11:05 BibtexRegion_FullDocument.blg
-rw-r--r--   1 mbg4  admin   14524  6 Mär 11:05 BibtexRegion_FullDocument.log
-rw-r--r--   1 mbg4  admin      39  6 Mär 11:01 BibtexRegion_FullDocument.out
-rw-r--r--   1 mbg4  admin  114343  6 Mär 11:05 BibtexRegion_FullDocument.pdf
-rw-r--r--   1 mbg4  admin    2765  6 Mär 11:05 BibtexRegion_FullDocument.run.xml
-rw-r--r--   1 mbg4  admin   50679  6 Mär 11:05 BibtexRegion_FullDocument.synctex.gz
-rw-r--r--   1 mbg4  admin     433  6 Mär 11:04 BibtexRegion_FullDocument.tex
-rw-r--r--   1 mbg4  admin     306  6 Mär 11:06 _region_-blx.bib
-rw-r--r--   1 mbg4  admin     495  6 Mär 11:06 _region_.aux
-rw-r--r--   1 mbg4  admin    1394  6 Mär 11:05 _region_.bbl
-rw-r--r--   1 mbg4  admin    1770  6 Mär 11:05 _region_.blg
-rw-r--r--   1 mbg4  admin   13209  6 Mär 11:06 _region_.log
-rw-r--r--   1 mbg4  admin       0  6 Mär 11:03 _region_.out
-rw-r--r--   1 mbg4  admin   13426  6 Mär 11:06 _region_.pdf
-rw-r--r--   1 mbg4  admin    2612  6 Mär 11:06 _region_.run.xml
-rw-r--r--   1 mbg4  admin     942  6 Mär 11:06 _region_.synctex.gz
-rw-r--r--   1 mbg4  admin     508  6 Mär 11:05 _region_.tex
  • Compile region feature is intended as a quick overview of the final output, but don't expect it to be completely reliable (reference numbering is an example). What you want to do is closer to what \include+\includeonly does.
    – giordano
    Mar 10, 2015 at 10:03
  • I see, but shouldn't it be generally possible to trick the aux files of the region to get the above mentioned result? With biber, I had made it work already, but unfortunately I have to use bibtex8 at the moment and I'm not sure how to get the relevant information into the right place. Mar 10, 2015 at 10:06
  • 1
    You can replace _region_.aux with BibtexRegion_FullDocument.aux, run latex with C-c C-r just once and view the output. But you should do this every time before running latex with C-c C-r, as this always overwrites the auxiliary file.
    – giordano
    Mar 10, 2015 at 10:28
  • don't I also have to replace the files produced by bibtex or are the original files linked by the copied .aux file? Mar 10, 2015 at 11:27
  • 1
    I'm no expert, I don't know what to do apart from replacing the aux file.
    – giordano
    Mar 10, 2015 at 16:27

1 Answer 1


Finally, it seems that I overlooked a quite easy solution:

cp BibtexRegion_FullDocument.bbl _region_.bbl

after a full compilation of the complete document seems to work fine.

However, it is not possible (nor does it make sense) to run bibtex on the region, because then this bbl file would be overwritten and the information lost.

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