I want to switch to a bibliography system that will take care of me for the next 10 years. I wish TUG clearly endorsed the future---what to deprecate, what to use. (Without it, they are becoming irrelevant to me.) Now, my reading is that biblatex and biber are the way forward, but this is somewhat murky. Is this correct?

Now I need a starter document. Not a long detailed reference manual, but document examples. I have seen plenty of web links, but many were over 10 years old, had missing links, described no workflow, and/or did not work. My trusty 2nd edition LaTeX companion from 2004 is about bibtex. (I guess Tex.sx has taken over.) I think it would be useful to have a document to which I should send PhD students who are just learning to use latex. The manual is clearly not for them. R calls these kinds of documents "vignettes."

So, here is a simple test.tex file


\usepackage{biblatex}  %% backend=biber is now the default
\addbibresource{testbib.bib}  %% replaces \bibliography


I am citing \cite{fama-french:2002}.  %  original had typo.  mea culpa




and a testbib.bib file

@article{ fama-french:2002,
author = { Eugene F. Fama and Kenneth R. French },
title = { The Equity Premium },
year = 2002,
volume = 57,
number = 1,
month = apr,
journal = { The Journal of Finance }

The workflow now would presumably be

$ pdflatex test.tex
$ biber test  ## unfortunately, it still does not understand biber test.tex
$ pdflatex test.tex
$ pdflatex test.tex

This is a good starter workflow, thanks to help from Joseph, Ulrike, Tom, moewe and cfr.

Does someone have a vignette, preferably with more different kinds of documents and cites?


  • 3
    I'm not really sure what the objective question is here: future-gazing is always prone to being a matter of opinion. – Joseph Wright Aug 12 '15 at 16:29
  • 5
    Well your entry is named ` fama-french:2002` and not fama:french:2002 (dash instead of colon). And yes biber doesn't compile your tex file but the .bcf as bibtex did compile your .aux-file. I also would use \addbibresource{testbib.bib} instead of \bibliography{testbib}. Beside this your example is fine. (And I naturally recommend biblatex ...) – Ulrike Fischer Aug 12 '15 at 16:35
  • 1
    You need \addbibresource{testbib.bib} rather than \bibliography{testbib} (note that you need the extension). And, the latest versions of Biblatex uses Biber as the backend by default; you don't need to specify it. – twsh Aug 12 '15 at 16:36
  • 4
  • 4
    I would also recommend using biblatex and Biber, as they are very flexible, offer lots of functionality ot of the box and don't use some kind of reverse Polish notation. In case of journal submissions and the like, however, sometimes one is stuck with BibTeX - the publishing world moves slowly. See Biblatex: submitting to a journal. – moewe Aug 12 '15 at 17:06

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