I'm writing a paper and most my citation are from arxiv. Those papers have many useful citations I want to re-cite. However to do that I have to extract many citations from pdf, find their canonical name and .bib entry, and finally, cite them.

What I want to achieve is take pdf (mostly from arxiv), and automatically generate .bib file with all cited papers inside.

Any tools or help is appreciated.

  • Interesting question. There is text2bib.economics.utoronto.ca which I believe works fairly well on text, so you would have to convert the PDF first. I would, however, advise you to find the references yourself instead of copying them from a paper directly - at least if you want to cite them yourself. That way you make sure that you don't copy errors and typos.
    – moewe
    Apr 10, 2017 at 10:10
  • 3
    I have removed the biblatex tag, since the biblatex package and its styles are not directly related to your question. Initially I was dubious about the BibTeX tag as well, but given its broad tag description about .bib files I left it.
    – moewe
    Apr 10, 2017 at 10:12
  • 4
    Use NASA ADS. Just a random example: for this paper arxiv.org/abs/1704.00684 visit adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/bib_query?arXiv:1704.00684, follow the "References in the Article" and you'll get the list of all papers cited there, then in each page you can get a BibTeX entry by clicking on the "Bibtex entry for this abstract" link.
    – giordano
    Apr 10, 2017 at 14:48

3 Answers 3


You can use the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abstract_service.html. It indexes several scientific journals, mostly in the fields of astronomy/astrophysics, including all e-prints on arXiv.

For example, go to the page of this e-print: https://arxiv.org/abs/1704.00684, click on the "NASA ADS" button in the box on the right and you'll be directed to http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/bib_query?arXiv:1704.00684. In this page, click on the "References in the Article" button and you'll get the list of all references cited in the paper. Click on the bibcode of one of them and in the abstract page you can click on the "Bibtex entry for this abstract" to automatically obtain the BibTeX entry for it.

At https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/ there is a fancier version of SAO/NASA ADS, with a more modern user interface.


I've created a couple of bookmarklets to do this:


They parse the PDF in the browser window and extract the citations as a .RIS or .bib file.

As such, it will work with any PDF, not just one on arXiv or that has a .tex source file

Alternatively, you can download the Scholarcy Chrome Extension which will also link each entry to the open-access version of the PDF for each cited paper (if there is one)

Full disclosure: I developed this tool and am the founder of Scholarcy.

  • 3
    To all the downvoters: How is this link-only answer worse than the other one? Jul 4, 2018 at 0:32
  • When you are promoting your services, you have to disclose your affiliation. Otherwise this is considered spam. Jul 4, 2018 at 0:38
  • 5
    Apologies, I thought the ‘I’ve created’ intro was sufficient. I’ve added disclosure at the bottom.
    – Phil Gooch
    Jul 4, 2018 at 8:01

You can use scifinder (see if your university has an access for this).

  1. You can search for the paper (in scifinder), whoose references you want to download.
  2. After finding the paper, go to "Get Related Citations", and select "Get Cited".
  3. You will get all the references that are cited in the paper.
  4. Select all and Export these citations in .ris format, which can be opened in Mendeley/ Zotero.
  5. These files can then be exported to .bib file.

I hope this helps :) -AR

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