# Making alphabetical citation call-outs to a hand-built bibliography

I am new to LaTeX and am currently trying to write a master thesis. I was thinking of writing the bibliography using \begin{thebibliography}{9} since I will probably not use it ever again. Does natbib work together with the bibliography? If not, is there another way to get alphabetical labels in the square brackets?

I was thinking of something like this:

\documentclass{book}

\usepackage[square]{natbib}
\bibliographystyle{alpha}

\begin{document}

\citep{lamport94}

\begin{thebibliography}{9}
\bibitem{Biblitest}
Bibli Test.
The book of biblitests.
1nd edition.
2016.
\end{thebibliography}

\end{document}

• What you are trying to do is self-contradictory. If you use thebibliography there is no point in using a BibTeX-style such as natbib. Also natbib heavily relies on the output generated by its BibTeX-style. All in all, I would recommend abandoning natbib and thebibliography in favour of biblatex, which is way more sophisticated and allows for much more configuration and automation. – Henri Menke Apr 7 '16 at 13:42
• Oh, and welcome to TeX.SX! You can have a look at our starter guide to familiarize yourself further with our format. The code is not really relevant to your question, but please always post copyable code. Therefore just indent lines by 4 spaces and they'll be marked as a code sample. You can also highlight the code and click the "code" button (with "{}" on it). – Henri Menke Apr 7 '16 at 13:44
• – Henri Menke Apr 7 '16 at 13:48
• Welcome to TeX SX! In addition to Henri's comment, even if you don't use it ever again I would highly recommend using a reference manager such as BibDesk, JabRef, Zotero, Mendeley, or any other that has a BibTeX output or sync option (this is a fairly comprehensive list). Especially because most modern managers allow you to import via the web or via DOI so you don't have to type your Bibliography yourself. – jan Apr 7 '16 at 13:56

As some of the earlier commenters have already pointed out, if you're going to build the bibliography by hand, there is (a) no point in specifying a bibliography style (since you won't be invoking BibTeX to create the formatted bibliography) and (b) little point in general in loading the natbib package. I deliblerately say "little point in general", rather than "no point," for natbib as it might make sense to load the package if you want to use both \citet and \citep and wish to create authoryear-style citation call-outs.

However, since it looks like you're set to use an "alphabetical" style for the citation callouts, there's actually no reason to load natbib for the case at hand. Instead, you may want to structure the \bibitem entries as shown in the following example. Note the presence of Jon99 in the optional argument of \bibitem -- that's the piece of information that will be shown in the citation callouts.

\documentclass{book}
\begin{document}

\cite{jones:99}

\begin{thebibliography}{1}

\bibitem[Jon99]{jones:99} Jones, Andrew, \emph{Collected Works},
Nowhere: NoCollege Press, 1999.
\end{thebibliography}

\end{document}