I contribute a bit to various forums and Stack Exchange sites and I often want to cite a journal article that I've found from a quick search on Google Scholar. Google Scholar allows for easy exporting of BibTeX references.

I then want to get the citation into a reasonable format for inclusion in a post (e.g., an answer on a stack exchange question). I'm not that fussy about the particular bibliographic style, although all the core information should be included (and something like APA style would be good).

What is a quick method for getting a single BibTeX reference from Google Scholar into a respectable format for inclusion into an online forum post?


9 Answers 9


You can try bibtex.online, it converts BibTeX to formatted text in many formats (APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard, Vancouver...).

No installation is required since it runs in the browser.

Example: enter image description here


After reading this answer to a question on command-line bibtex tools I discovered bibtex2html.

If one or more bibtex references are contained in local.bib, the following command would output the HTML for these reference in APA style.

  • bibtex2html -nokeys -o - -s apa -nodoc -q local.bib
    • -nokeys prevents bibtex keys from being displayed, which corresponds to what I typically want to do when including formatted references in blog posts or forums
    • -s apa uses the apa style file, which on casual inspection seems to work fairly well
    • -q is quiet mode necessary to suppress unnecessary information
    • -o - means that information is sent to standard out
    • -nodoc supresses the opening and closing html code necessary to make a stand-alone document
  • Fails on macOS with calling BibTeX...error 2 while running bibtex.
    – HappyFace
    Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 17:30

BibDesk on the Mac can import and export references via the clipboard, so it's easy to import the reference into BibDesk and then export it in Rich Text or HTML by just copying and pasting it. The internal preview mechanism is driven by LaTeX, so you can use any bibliography style you need. The simplest would be to use the Rich Text export, although pasting that wouldn't do any formatting of the reference with respect to italics if you were pasting it into a .sx answer, for example, but otherwise would be fine. The basic HTML export creates a freestanding document, which isn't quite what you want, but you can modify the basic template used to make a minimal HTML template.

For example, the following citation

Chomsky, N. 2005. Three factors in language design. Linguistic inquiry 36(1). 1–22.

was placed into this answer effectively with 4 keystrokes: one to copy the BibTeX generated by Google Scholar, one to paste it into BibDesk, and one (actually a mouse action) to export it as Rich Text and one to paste it into the answer.

JabRef can also export HTML, but only through the file saving mechanism, as far as I know, so this wouldn't be so simple.

  • 1
    This works for me. To get the citation preview, you have to enable "TeX preview" in preferences, and then click on a small icon that looks like a pair of glasses, in the bar at the very bottom of the window.
    – N. Virgo
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 6:17
  • You can also show the citation preview in the BibDesk window at the bottom by selecting View > Bottom Preview > TeX. It takes a couple of seconds to render, but seems far more useful than the default. You can also copy and paste that text.
    – Jim L.
    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 14:14

To quote myself:

Google Scholar now has a cite button on each reference which makes it easy to get an APA formatted reference. See the announcment on the blog and this image taken from the blog post:

example of using cite feature in google scholar


THere is a much easier method than what you suggest with JabRef.

When clicking on the entry in the JabRef main window, the bottom panel displays a preview of the entry that is in fact a nicely formatted citation. You can select and copy this text.

This preview also has two nice features:

  • You can switch between two display formats (via F9, or right click on the area)

  • You can edit the two display formats as you wish in the JabRef preferences.

  • Shortcut to do this is CTRL-shift-C. Nice tip! Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 18:35

You could try Bibtex2Cite. It converts Bibtex article to APS style. view


On Ubuntu,

sudo apt-get install bibtexconv
bibtexconv example.bib </usr/share/doc/bibtexconv/examples/text-example.export 

Some info on the tool and its other capabilities is here: https://www.uni-due.de/~be0001/bibtexconv/

  • When installing with brew text-example lived here /opt/homebrew/Cellar/bibtexconv/1.3.4/share/doc/bibtexconv/examples/text-example.export
    – Att Righ
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 11:34

I see the easiest method is to import the file as RefMan from the menu after press cite for any research, this will give you .ris file extension. After that you can import this file through any citation program like Mendeley and through that program you can export again to .bib.

hope that will be helpful.



By looking at all the other answers, most of them either propose to install something locally or the online tool doesn't have all the citation styles (e.g.: @enric's answer it doesn't have IEEE etc.)

Therefore, I would suggest you to use bibtex.com site. It has a range of converters including BibTeX to APA, AMA, Chicago, CSV, Harvard, IEEE, and MLA. You can input your whole .bib file or insert bibtex citation one by one.

It's self explanatory. Enjoy citing!

bibtex citation formatter interface bibtex citation style selector

  • That is already mentioned in an answer ...
    – Mensch
    Commented Dec 10, 2021 at 11:37
  • @Mensch I think it is a different site to the others mentioned. I updated answer to make it clear that it refers to "bibtex.com". Commented Dec 11, 2021 at 3:14

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