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Is it possible to use the amsplain bibliographic style with the biblatex package?

After processing the source file below, I get error: "Package biblatex Error: Style 'amsplain' not found."

%% source.tex

\documentclass{article}

\usepackage[style=amsplain]{biblatex}
\bibliography{referencesdb}

\begin{document}

Refer to \cite{thebook} for more information.

\printbibliography

\end{document}

Here's the .bib file used:

@book{
thebook,
author = {John Doe},
title = {The book without a Name},
publisher = {Mystery Books},
year = {2016},
}

The amsplain.bst file really is available in my TeXLive 2016 installation, because if I change the source to the following, then processing completes as expected.

%% source-no-biblatex.tex

\documentclass{article}

\begin{document}

Refer to \cite{thebook} for more information.

\bibliographystyle{amsplain}
\bibliography{referencesdb}    

\end{document}
  • 2
    You don't use amsplain with biblatex. amsplain is a .bst style and is thus used as you show in your second bit of code. biblatex needs .bbx and .cbx styles. Since there is no amsplain.bbx and no amsplain.cbx you can't use that style with biblatex. – moewe Sep 13 '16 at 20:27
  • So what files would I use with biblatex in order to recreate essentially the same amsplain style? – murray Sep 13 '16 at 20:29
  • 1
    Why do you want to use biblatex if you have a style you can work with right now? AFAIK there is no biblatex implementation of amsplain so you would have to make do with numeric its derivatives or trad-plain of the biblatex-trad package. While biblatex has many superior features, you don't have to switch especially if you have a .bst style that works for you (it's unlikely you need the advanced features then). – moewe Sep 13 '16 at 20:31
  • 1
    Well, biblatex is often (for me at least) easier to modify than .bst styles. The question is: How much do you need that? And how far is the output you get from style=numeric in biblatex away from what you want to see? You can easily get rid of quotation marks around the titles, if that is all you need. But if you need much more, things might become a bit more involved. – moewe Sep 13 '16 at 20:54
  • 1
    But how far off is it if you try numeric? That will tell you how much work you'd need to do (roughly) to customise the style according to your desiderata. If you want to include additional fields, you are already moving away from that style, of course. Part of what a style defines is what information, exactly, gets shown and what not. – cfr Sep 14 '16 at 2:23
3

biblatex uses a different style format than traditional BibTeX with its .bst files. (Arguably biblatex's .bbx/.cbx files are easier to customise than .bst files.) You can't use .bst styles with biblatex and you can't use biblatex styles with traditional BibTeX. The two formats are incompatible and there is as of now no converter between the two formats (and it is unlikely there is ever going to be one).

So the answer to your question is you can't.


If you have a .bst file you like and you don't need any of bibilatex's advanced features (of which there are many), you don't need to switch to biblatex - you can just go on using your .bst file with BibTeX.

If you do need to switch and still want to "retain your style", you should pick the closest match from the vast amount of standard styles (which are easy to customise) or custom styles (which are sometimes much harder to customise - especially if they were tailor-made to follow some style guide) and modify it to your needs. Of course this is also a question of how flexible you are - what aspects of your old style do you want to retain, what are you not so fussed about?

There are few direct biblatex equivalents for .bst styles. Some .bst styles implement certain style guides/house styles and you might find a biblatex style that does the same - in that case though the output may differ in certain edge cases (because the standard isn't clear, has changed over time, or certain things weren't possible to implement, ...).

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