# How to use biber

Simply put I want to know what steps I need to take to start biber with biblatex. I haven't been able to find any proper tutorials or guides showing how you go about using it instead of BibTeX.

• What is biber's syntax?
• How do you compile?
• Etc.

Are there any tutorials or guides available?

Here is a MWE (not really minimum, but showing some options) that should get you started. Other possible values for the biblatex options are described in the biblatex documentation.

\documentclass[]{article}

\usepackage[autostyle]{csquotes}

\usepackage[
backend=biber,
style=authoryear-icomp,
sortlocale=de_DE,
natbib=true,
url=false,
doi=true,
eprint=false
]{biblatex}

\usepackage[]{hyperref}
\hypersetup{
}

%% ##############################
\begin{document}
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet~\citep{kastenholz}.
At vero eos et accusam et justo duo dolores et ea rebum~\citet{sigfridsson}.
\printbibliography
\end{document}


To compile you should now call pdflatex, biber, pdflatex.
biber operates on the .bcf file, so either use biber %.bcf or (even better) just biber %, where % stands for the basename of your main .tex file.

biblatex-examples.bib is a file that comes with your TeX distribution, you can find it at TEXMF/bibtex/bib/biblatex.biblatex-examples.bibor online. It can be used for testing. Use a different filename for your own .bib file.

The natbib=true option allows you to use citep and citet style citations in you text. This is mainly for compatibility with old code. For new code, use \textcite{} and \parencite{} instead. biblatex knows some more cite commands like \autocite{} or \footcite{}. These are described in the biblatex documentation.

• @matth: Could you please tell me why your MWE doesn't work for me? github.com/MartinThoma/LaTeX-examples/tree/master/documents/… - I compile it with the Makefile May 12, 2013 at 15:30
• @moose See my updated answer, if that doesn't help, ask again. May 13, 2013 at 11:25
• @matth: I am using texlive 2016 and TexShop 3.77 with OS X 10.12.4 Compiling the example code above with pdf latex I get the following error: (/usr/local/texlive/2016/texmf-dist/tex/latex/biblatex/blx-dm.def ! Undefined control sequence. <argument> ...blx@datamodel@fields}{date}}\StrCut {date}{date}\blx@datetype ... l.585 urldate} May 20, 2017 at 22:38
• @HeinzM. Sorry, I do not know what that message means. Try cleaning the project, delete the .aux and .bbl files, try updating all your Tex Live packages and compile agian. Did you search the internet already? Maybe submit a bug report!? May 22, 2017 at 8:16
• @NicHartley It does print a bibliography on my computer, and seems to work well for many others. Do you get any error messages? Did you follow all steps? Apr 25, 2019 at 19:33

run texdoc biber from the command line and you'll get the documentation. However, using biber as a replacement for bibtex you have to define the backend with

\usepackage[backend=biber,...]{biblatex}


and then change your bibtex run into a biber one, that is all.

However, with the latest biblatex package (TeXLive 2016) the backend=biber setting is the default, you have only to specify bibtex or bibtex8 if you want to use one of the old programs. And, of course, you have to change the program name in your editor. For example: in TeXstudio it is Options->Configure->Build->Standard Bibprogram->biber.

• So you continue using the same syntax as bibtex uses? Aug 25, 2011 at 13:30
• @benreqn. Could you specify which syntax you mean? In the LaTeX document, things stay the same apart from the biblatex changes. In the .bib file, things stay the same although one or two fields are renamed. Aug 25, 2011 at 13:42
• in general yes. There is only a need for parameters if your document is of another encoding as the bib data file is.
– user2478
Aug 25, 2011 at 13:42
• @benregn It took me a while to figure this out but when Herbert said to "change your bibtex run into a biber one", you may need to change the default script that your program is running. The biber manual gives an example for EMacs and TeXWorks but in TeXShop you go to the engine tab and change the bibtex engine to biber. Also, I had to use bibfile.bib (instead of just bibfile) for it to find my library. Hope this helps someone... Nov 8, 2011 at 2:40
• I think it is still good style to have backend=biber even though Biber is now the standard backend if only to avoid the warning No "backend" specified, using Biber backend. It also makes things more explicit for people reading the code. Feb 20, 2016 at 7:51