Some publications have a chemical formula in the title string. Journals use very different workarounds to export .bib files for these articles on their website. Some are able to create complicate problems when compiling.

What is the best way to denote a chemical formula in the title field of an article in a .bib file?

Example: Multiferroic phases of Eu1−xYxMnO3 in http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevB.75.035118

PS: I prefer biber, if it makes a difference which tool I use.

  • 1
    Packages mhchem and chemformula come to mind.
    – cgnieder
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 15:15
  • @clemens I use mhchem a lot, but was not aware that one can use it for .bib and could not find the substring "bib" in the whole texdoc mhchem nor in the texdoc chemformula manual. Can you give an example, how to use it? Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 16:12
  • I'd simply use it as always: title = {... \ce{H2O}...}
    – cgnieder
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 16:14
  • @Johannes_B I converted all titles to title = {... \ce{H2O}...} as suggested by clemens but could not collect experience where the limits are. I like that it is very simple to handle with scripts afterwards and wrote a python script to rename all pdf files to bibkey_title.pdf Commented May 2, 2016 at 12:28

1 Answer 1


Collecting my comments into an answer: I'd use either package mhchem or package chemformula. It is then easily possible to use \ce (mhchem) or \ch (chemformula) in the bib file:

title = {... \ch{H2O}...}
  • Feedback: I use this method now since 3 years without negative side effects in different setups with mhchem,biber, lualatex, pdflatex and jabref-3.8.2. Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 11:50

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