Is it possible to define a LaTeX command that takes as input a citation key and gives as output the section of the article, in which this key appeared the first time (inside \cite{}), i.e. where this given reference was first referred to? (not using bibtex or biblatex)

  • Could you clarify what you mean by "not using bibtex or biblatex"?
    – Mico
    Feb 23, 2016 at 20:10
  • By using the built-in bibliography management of LaTeX.
    – Moppe
    Feb 26, 2016 at 11:02
  • The "built-in bibliography management [tools] of LaTeX" are rather rudimentary, I'm afraid. Are you talking about a hand-assembled thebibliography environment?
    – Mico
    Feb 26, 2016 at 11:53
  • Yes, I am. And I do know they are rudimentary, but the situation is what it is. I just want to know, what data is there available on the citations and how can it be accessed?
    – Moppe
    Feb 29, 2016 at 10:48
  • @Mico they're also required by journals in some situations (i.e. not obsolete), so the question is still interesting.
    – Chris H
    Feb 29, 2016 at 11:12

2 Answers 2


I'm not sure about your use case, but here a starting point for you with package backref. At least, it prints the number of section(s) where each bib.-item was cited after the item itself.


  \ifcase #1 %
    No citations.%
    One citation in section #2.%
    #1 citations in sections #2.%


\section{First Section}

\section{Second Section}
\cite{CA}, \cite{MSW00}, \cite{Rei91}

\section{Third Section}
\cite{MSW00}, \cite{Rei91}

\section{Fourth Section}
\cite{CA}, \cite{MSW00}, \cite{Rei91}

\bibitem{HB98} Huynen, M.~A. and Bork, P. 1998. Measuring genome
  evolution. {\itshape Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
    USA} 95:5849--5856.

\bibitem{CA} Caprara, A. 1997. Sorting by reversals is difficult. In:
  {\itshape Proceedings of the First Annual International Conference
    on Computational Molecular Biology (RECOMB 97),} New York: ACM.
  pp. 75--83.

\bibitem{MSW00} McLysaght, A., Seoighe, C. and Wolfe, K.~H. 2000. High
  frequency of inversions during eukaryote gene order evolution.  In
  Sankoff, D. and Nadeau, J.~H., editors, {\itshape Comparative
    Genomics}, Dordrecht, NL: Kluwer Academic Press. pp. 47--58.

\bibitem{Rei91} Reinelt, G. 1991. {\itshape The Traveling Salesman -
    Computational Solutions for TSP Applications.} Berlin: Springer



enter image description here

  • The case is, that a book contains a bibliography after each section. To avoid repeating printing references again, it would be useful to say that you can find the reference in the bibliography of this section. An example: You have a citation \cite{MSW00} in section 2. You cite it again in a later section, and you can then cite it as, let's say [2.3] (third reference in section 2).
    – Moppe
    Feb 26, 2016 at 11:13

A colleague had a solution for the problem:


             {\section*{\refname}%  %% use \bibname instead of
                                 %  %% \refname if using the
                                 %  %% report or book document classes
               % %% ^^ added \the\c@section
                    % %% ^^ added \the\c@section
                    \@clubpenalty \clubpenalty
               {\@latex@warning{Empty `thebibliography' environment}}%



Blah blah blah~\cite{cite1}, and see later~\cite{cite2}.

\bibitem{cite1} Foo bar. 


Bleh bleh bleh~\cite{cite2}. And also~\cite{cite1}.

\bibitem{cite2} Baz bof.


enter image description here

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