I'm writting an article for a journal. I'm using BibTex for the bibliography and I'm taking its entries from Google Scholar, for example:


title={Instability of Axial Flow Over a Plate Hinged at Its Leading Edge},

author={Zhang, Chao and Liu, Naitong and Huang, Lixi},


I would like to cite this entry as \cite{Zhang} in my Latex document. Can I just change the entry to @incollection{Zhang}, or is it necessary to keep it as @incollection{zhang2014instability} in order for the journal to compute one more citation for this article? In other words, does every article have to be defined with a unique label in all the world? If not, how is the number of citations of every article computed by the journals and Google?

  • 5
    The label only has to be unique in your project. Nov 4, 2016 at 16:44

1 Answer 1


The citation key field must be terminated by a comma, not a curly brace. Thus, both




will generate a BibTeX error. It has to be either




The key point (pun intended) to keep in mind is that the citation key field must be unique.

Don't use TeX-special characters (#$%_^&{}\), spaces, double-quotes (") or commas in the strings that form the citation keys, and don't employ non-ASCII characters (e.g., äöüÄÖÜßàéè, to mention but a few) either. Other than that, you're fairly free to choose how to write the citation key.


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