I’m currently in the process of reconsidering how I do bibliography management. It seems to be most sensible to use biblatex with biber. I’d like to know what tools are available on which I can build a solution that works for me. I’m interested in everything from full-blown bibliography management suites to pretty-printers for .bib files; both as traditional programs and online services.

Tools in question should fulfill the following criteria:

  • Unicode support.
  • Support for the additional entry types and fields that biblatex supports.
  • Support for biber’s improved cross-referencing.

3 Answers 3


I am most familiar with JabRef. It has Unicode support and a biblatex mode. You can also customize JabRef to have any entry type and field you can think of. There is no built-in cross-referencing support in JabRef, but you can set up the corresponding fields yourself.

The newest version of Citavi (3.1) has biblatex support as well, as the announcement (at least in German) states. This might not be complete, since it is the first version with biblatex support. Citavi has a built-in cross-referencing functionality, but the workflow with LaTeX is not intuitive, as Citavi does not store the data in .bib format.

JabRef works on all platforms (with Java), Citavi is Windows only. Development for a Mac version have stopped in November 2011 (Link).

  • 2
    By the way, JabRef has BibLaTeX mode (Options -- Preferences -- Advanced -- BibLaTeX mode). Sep 2, 2011 at 17:32
  • @Anton, you are right. I edited my answer.
    – domwass
    Sep 4, 2011 at 15:22
  • What exactly does JabRef's BibLaTeX mode do? Or in what way does it change the program's behaviour?
    – Matthias
    Nov 30, 2011 at 12:28
  • 2
    @Matthias, JabRef‘s biblatex mode changes the available entry types (collection, e.g.) and fields (it adds fields to the optional tab and has a second optional tab with more fields).
    – domwass
    Nov 30, 2011 at 13:12
  • 5
    It has to be said though that a lot of time after this answer was posted the JabRef biblatex mode is still not complete. Most importantly, the indication whether an entry is complete still doesn't work properly when only year or date are present but not both.
    – Christian
    Aug 20, 2012 at 22:41

For the Mac there is BibDesk, which is a full-featured reference management system that integrates nicely with the Mac OS, and with Mac editors. It allows you to:

  • manage references, including documents attached to the references
  • create custom bib fields (including those used by biblatex)
  • search the database and create smart groups of references based on search criteria
  • import references from major online sources as well as copied text
  • export references and bibliographies in a variety of formats
  • autocompletion of \cite references in text editors; currently TeXShop is the only program to use this
  • System Services for inserting references in other text editors
  • support for any text encoding implemented by Apple (e.g., UTF-8, Latin-1, Mac Roman)

In the BibDesk wiki (BibDesk Tips and Tricks) there is some information on customizing BibDesk for biblatex, including a link to a TypeInfo file that can be used to create all of the biblatex fields automatically. Download the file from here: TypeInfo for BibLaTeX, quit BibDesk, and save the file as ~/Library/Application Support/BibDesk/TypeInfo.plist, where ~ denotes your home folder. In 10.7 and later, you may need to make this folder visible in Finder.

BibDesk has full support for BibTeX crossrefs (searching, editing, display), but does not support any biber or biblatex additions in this regard. BibTeX macros are likewise fully supported.

  • But compared to JabRef, it's much more awkward with BibDesk to switch between native bibtex mode and biblatex mode: it involves going into /Library/Application\ Support/BibDesk, renaming TypeInfo.plist to something else, and finally renaming a copy of TypeInfo_biblatex.plist to TypeInfo.plist (and similarly in order to revert to bibtex mode).
    – murray
    Aug 27, 2017 at 21:17
  • @murray True. (I see you've opened a feature request for that). I guess many of us have made a one-way switch to biblatex and so this isn't much of an issue.
    – Alan Munn
    Aug 27, 2017 at 22:49
  • “BibDesk wiki” link above is broken (404 error). I would fix it, but I'm having trouble accessing the BibDesk wiki at all. Nov 28, 2017 at 15:12

I use Zotero + Biblatex + Biber backend + TexStudio as workflow for automation of bibliography citations. You may want to have a look at my answer here, you can give it a try and let me know if that works fine with you.


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