I am working on a joint paper and we've been using the \begin{thebibliography}{9} to define the references, however, the editors have requested the order of the references to change to unsrt.

I am aware how to do this when using an external .bib file but how do I change this using the \begin{thebibliography} method?

  • 3
    manually, by hand.
    – Johannes_B
    Dec 18, 2015 at 20:18
  • 1
    @ChristianHupfer -- the question is clear. for good or ill, the authors have not used a .bib file, so it's too late. Dec 18, 2015 at 20:25
  • @Johannes_B I assume you mean to copy and paste the individual bibtiem blocks in the order I need?
    – Colin747
    Dec 18, 2015 at 20:26
  • @barbarabeeton: Everybody as she/he wishes ;-)
    – user31729
    Dec 18, 2015 at 20:33

1 Answer 1


This is primarily the sort of scenario for which BibTeX was created. Programs like BibTeX (and now BibLaTeX/biber) generate the bibliography environment for you. When you use {thebibliography} yourself, you bypass the sorting and special handling these tools provide.

Your obvious next step is to manually reorder the entries, but this may not be the best use of your time. I would consider creating a BibTeX database from the references you're working with. (Yes, this also must be done by hand -- but can be greatly expedited with editor macros.)

  • Thanks for your help, I normally us BibTeX but when I joined work on this paper the thebibliography was already in use and I wasn't aware of its limitations.
    – Colin747
    Dec 18, 2015 at 21:53
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    @Colin747 oh I'm not saying it's your fault :-) we all inherit ugly code at some point or another, but fixing it to 'do the right thing' is probably your most powerful solution. Dec 18, 2015 at 23:37
  • Isn't that the truth! I think it'll be my first port of call for the first revision!
    – Colin747
    Dec 19, 2015 at 23:09

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