I am trying to produce a bibliography , using acl16 style. the code is the following:


And I get the error:! LaTeX Error: Something's wrong--perhaps a missing \item. In addition: Citation Gusfield:97 on page 1 is undefined. The bib file (example.bib) is--

Dan Gusfield.
\newblock 1997.
\newblock {\em Algorithms on Strings, Trees and Sequences}.
\newblock Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

I am using MikTex 2.9 and texmaker. The bbl produces only:



Any ideas on how to fix this?


  • I assume that you have a .bib file?
    – user31729
    Jun 2, 2016 at 20:43
  • yes, the \bibliography{example}--second code block Jun 2, 2016 at 20:44
  • 1
    Please add this example.bib to the post above. Otherwise, we can't reproduce (if at all)
    – user31729
    Jun 2, 2016 at 20:45
  • 1
    I don't think that this will work. This is no valid .bib file!
    – user31729
    Jun 2, 2016 at 20:53
  • 1
    @ChristianHupfer -- bingo! you are absolutely correct! Jun 2, 2016 at 21:17

4 Answers 4


the contents of the bibliography as shown are in the format of a .bbl file, which is the output when a .bib file is run through bibtex.

two approaches are possible:

  • wrap \begin{thebibliography} ... \end{thebibliography} around this code and insert it into your tex file in place of \bibliography{example}

  • reconstruct the .bib file in the required format and rerun bibtex.


I had the same issue. It seemed like for no apparent reason latex file did not compile, giving me the same error, although I had implemented everything correctly. I also checked many posts here but none of them solved my issue.


The way I solved it was to delete the .bbl file and compiled again. You need to have at least one citation for this to work properly. otherwise again a corrupt .bbl file will be generated. I don't know why is it happening, but maybe at some point when you make a mistake in referencing a corrupted empty .bbl file is created. And even when you fix the mistake it just stays there and the compiler is not able to overwrite it. It is apparently a very common issue and I hope somebody finds the issue and fixes it.

  • 1
    I don't think, that this is the same problem. The problem of user1807435 was a broken bib-file. With a broken bib-file rerunning bibtex or biber doesn't help. If you really have the same error message from time to time and regeneration of bbl-file helps, you could have an mistake in your bib-file, that only sometimes result in an broken bib-file, or your previous bibtex (or biber) run could have been aborted (or something completely different). I don't think, this is an answer to the question. Jun 27, 2017 at 14:00

My solution is deleting all the main.* files except for main.tex, and recompile.


I have the same issue and i just given the bibliography manually one by one

  • Please add further details to expand on your answer, such as working code or documentation citations.
    – Community Bot
    Sep 6, 2021 at 7:42

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