Is there any source where I can find the required fields in my bibliography file to refer to a chapter within a book? I found @inbook, but I cannot find the fields (author=, chapter=... ). In general it would be nice to know what are all the possible fields for each type of reference i.e. @article, @book, @unpublished and so forth.

  • Or if you use a bibliography manager (such as JabRef), you can let the program keep track of what possible fields are. Commented Aug 30, 2010 at 8:40
  • See my answer to another question for a good resource for all the field types for the various reference types.
    – vanden
    Commented Aug 30, 2010 at 16:47

5 Answers 5


I think the best policy is never to talk of chapter numbers in the reflist at all, and move talk of chapter numbers, on the few occasions they are needed, to the citation in the main text. But of course you can't always choose. So, if you must use a particular Bibtex style that uses chapters, then include them in your *.bib files, and avoid Bibtex styles that allow you to refer to chapter numbers in the reference list whenever you can.

Notes on citation style

Citation styles vary, but IMO the cleanest policy is the following:

  • Do not refer to chapters in the reference list (i.e., what Bibtex calls the bibliography, but the {thebibliography} environment calls the References section/chapter), and refer only to page numbers in references for articles in journals and collected articles;
  • Citations of chapters and page numbers within works cited in the reflist should consist of the identifier of the work cited in the reflist, together with the specification of the part of the work of interest;
  • Volume numbers are trickier... I could say more, but for the sake of brevity, I won't.

This policy is followed by The Chicago Manual of Style and the Publication Manual of the APA, and is supported by the {natbib} and {apalike} Bibtex styles.



  • Boolos, G., 1971/1998. 'The iterative conception of set'. In R.C. Jeffrey (ed.), Logic, Logic, and Logic, Harvard University Press, pp. 13-29. First published, The Journal of Philosophy, 68:215-232.
  • Johnstone, P.T., 1987. Notes on Logic and Set Theory. Cambridge University Press.

(We are interested in chapter one of the collected articles of George Boolos, a fact we never mention, since we have the title of the chapter and the page numbers in the reflist. We are interested in three chapters of Peter Johnstone's work, which we don't mention in the reflist, but do in the citation in the main text).

Citations in main text

The cumulative hierarchy had a long prior history, but was not taken seriously as the intellectual foundation of Zermelo-Fränkel set theory until the landmark work of Boolos (1971). In the following, we shall assume the treatment of ZFC given by Johnstone (1987, chapters 5-7).

  • 4
    My background is in the humanities where I frequently encounter anthologies that are a collection of essays, each written by a different author. My discipline typically requires that each chapter I use be cited in the bibliography almost as if it were a journal article, including with the page range. This style is explicitly supported by the Chicago Manual of Style. The OP asked for help and you responded by preaching your opinion that is not helpful nor correct for people in my discipline. You made the mistake of universalizing the subjective. If I may: next time preach less and answer the Q.
    – Rob
    Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 11:29

Don't use @inbook ever for anything. Use one of the following, depending on the situation:

  • @book and \cite[Chapter~5]{foo} for a monograph.

  • @incollection for a book in which each chapter has a different author. Then the relevant fields are booktitle= and title=; this is similar to @inproceedings.

  • 12
    In some rare cases, @inbook can be appropriate, e.g. for an introduction by author X in a book by author Y. With biblatex, @inbook is also useful for articles in a volume of collected works by one author.
    – domwass
    Commented Nov 10, 2010 at 11:03
  • 34
    It would help if you edited your answer to include some explanation. "Don't use inbook, ever" is much less useful than "Don't use inbook, ever, because (...)". As it stands, this is just your personal opinion, with no facts, evidence, justification, or other information to back up your opinion.
    – D.W.
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 22:32
  • 16
    @JukkaSuomela, nonetheless, my point stands. As it is, this is just opinion, with no justification or explanation given. (Incidentally, people vote for all sorts of reasons. I've seen incorrect answers and bad advice upvoted many times on other sites I participate in, so I happen to know first-hand that a high vote count is not a fool-proof sign that the answer is good. Surely there is a better justification for your answer than the vote total.)
    – D.W.
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 22:40
  • 15
    I was hoping to find a comment an explanation on why should one never used @inbook ever. Why should one not use it? Is there something wrong with it or is it just badly supported by the common styles?
    – carandraug
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 1:22
  • 11
    Downvoting until the rationale is cited. Commented Jul 8, 2018 at 13:30

For the various fields, I usually check the BibTeX article in Wikipedia. I believe you want @inbook to cite a chapter. Normally, I'll just write \cite[Chapter~5]{foo}, though.

From the Wikipedia link, the required fields for @inbook are: author/editor, title, chapter/pages, publisher, year and the optional fields are volume, series, address, edition, month, note, key.

  • @inpart? I've never seen that one. Don't you mean @inbook as the OP stated? One of chapter and pages is required for that. Commented Aug 30, 2010 at 8:43
  • Didn't find @inpart in Wikipedia, I'm using @inbook with a note= to include the author of the chapter. I will not use \cite[Chapter~5]{foo} because I'm unsure 'bout how this affects the style of a particular journal. Cheers!
    – Trevis
    Commented Aug 30, 2010 at 8:58
  • Yes, yes I did. I'm not sure where I got @inpart from. Hasty typing, I suppose. Will fix.
    – TH.
    Commented Aug 30, 2010 at 9:15
  • 5
    @Trevis: if you have different authors for different chapters, you are better off using @incollection, unless you have a case where a book with a primary author includes a chapter/appendix by someone else, in which case your solution will give clearer information. Commented Aug 30, 2010 at 10:44
  • @TH. I've slightly edited your answer hoping to improve it, and keep the relevant information up front. Of course feel free to revert my edits if you feel they misrepresent your original answer. Commented Aug 30, 2010 at 11:08

There are quite a few good answers here, but I wanted to share what I do. First, I use this site as a reference for what each entry type is intended to be used for. Here are useful excerpts:

incollection: A part of a book having its own title.

inbook: A part of a book, e.g., a chapter, section, or whatever and/or a range of pages.

book: A book with an explicit publisher.

crossref: The database key of the entry being cross-referenced

What I find useful for organization and modularity (e.g. if I were to cite multiple titled chapters from the same book):

@incollection{tucker1964extension,  % A chapter in a book
    title     = {The extension of factor analysis to
                 three-dimensional matrices},               % Unique for book
    author    = {Tucker, Ledyard R.},                       % Unique for book
    pages     = {110--127},                                 % Unique for book
    crossref  = {ContribMathPsych1964}                      % Crossref

@book{ContribMathPsych1964,  % The book itself
    year      = {1964},                                     % Unique for book
    editor    = {Frederiksen, Norman O. and                 % Unique for book
                 Gulliksen, Harold},
    title     = {Contributions to Mathematical Psychology}, % Redundant for book
    booktitle = {Contributions to Mathematical Psychology}, % Redundant for book
    author    = {Tucker, Ledyard R. and others},            % Unique for book
    publisher = {Holt, Rinehardt and Winston},              % Unique for book
    address   = {New York, New York, USA}                   % Unique for book

The crossref in the incollection entry links the chapter to the book so redundant details (asides from booktitle/title) are not necessary. This produces the following citation:

  1. Ledyard R. Tucker. 1964. The extension of factor analysis to three-dimensional matrices. In Contributions to Mathematical Psychology, Norman O. Frederiksen and Harold Gulliksen (Eds.). Holt, Rinehardt and Winston, New York, New York, USA, 110–127

This can alternatively be written using BibTeX strings to reduce redundancies, which is especially useful if e.g. you have multiple years of the same conference or multiple versions of the same book.

@string{ContribMathPsych = {Contributions to Mathematical Psychology}}

@incollection{tucker1964extension,  % A chapter in a book
    title     = {The extension of factor analysis to
                 three-dimensional matrices},               % Unique for book
    author    = {Tucker, Ledyard R.},                       % Unique for book
    pages     = {110--127},                                 % Unique for book
    crossref  = {ContribMathPsych1964}                      % Crossref

@book{ContribMathPsych1964,  % The book itself
    year      = {1964},                                     % Unique for book
    editor    = {Frederiksen, Norman O. and                 % Unique for book
                 Gulliksen, Harold},
    title     = ContribMathPsych,                           % Redundant for book
    booktitle = ContribMathPsych,                           % Redundant for book
    author    = {Tucker, Ledyard R. and others},            % Unique for book
    publisher = {Holt, Rinehardt and Winston},              % Unique for book
    address   = {New York, New York, USA}                   % Unique for book
  • 5
    This should be the top rated and accepted answer. Commented Nov 1, 2020 at 8:34
  • 1
    Using crossref is a neat implementation. Commented May 8, 2021 at 12:45

It should be noted that biblatex uses the @inbook type in a different way than traditional BibTeX, namely

for a self-contained part of a book with its own title [...]. It relates to @book just like @incollection relates to @collection. [p. 28 of the biblatex manual]

To give a practical example, this type is useful for an introductory essay to a legal commentary.

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