How can I resolve the warning in the title? I have tried using different backends (biber and bibtex8): it will either not fix the problem, or make worse problems.




    The Pearl Street Station and subsequent plants provided power at 110V dc \cite{hirsh_emergence_2002}.



And bibliography:

  title = {Emergence of {{Electrical Utilities}} in {{America}}},
  timestamp = {2017-03-05T00:55:18Z},
  howpublished = {\url{http://americanhistory.si.edu/powering/}},
  journal = {Smithsonian Institution: Powering a Generation of Change},
  author = {Hirsh, Richard F.},
  month = sep,
  year = {2002}
  • 1
    It's a warning as you are using BibTeX, which simply can't do all of th things Biber can. If you can the outcomes you want then there is nothing to worry about. However, I'm not sure why you say using Biber doesn't get rid of the warning: can you detail what you tried?
    – Joseph Wright
    Apr 17, 2017 at 6:43
  • @JosephWright, figured it out: I had to change TeXstudio preferences to use biber by default. I had assumed it could figure this out on it's own, but apparently not!
    – LShaver
    Apr 17, 2017 at 7:08
  • OK, I'll post an answer to explain what the warning is about
    – Joseph Wright
    Apr 17, 2017 at 7:12
  • The person that is responsible for all templates decided it would be too much for users to change editor settings. No matter that biber is much more powerful. You know where to complain. You have his mail address.
    – Johannes_B
    Apr 17, 2017 at 7:24
  • By the way, i wouldn't use that template. It doesn't do any things you need. You seem to now basic LaTeX.
    – Johannes_B
    Apr 17, 2017 at 7:25

3 Answers 3


The warning is issued when using the BibTeX (or BibTeX8) back-ends as these are more restricted in their functionality than Biber is. As such, some biblatex features simply won't work unless Biber is in use, and others will use a 'fall back' approach with reduced functionality.

Depending on your requirements, BibTeX(8) may be fine. For example, in my own subject area, chemistry, the requirements for bibliography formatting are simple and BibTeX is able to produce the same output as Biber. However, this can only be known by the user: biblatex issues a warning as this informs the user they have to check that they get the output they want.


I am using Miktex + TeXworks. I had biblatex errors when compiling, in addition to this warning.

Upon changing




both warning and errors went away.


I just wanted to mention that this warning for me appeared when I had a & in one of the references, which should be \&.

I was looking for hours for the error, since the main error was

Misplaced alignment tab character &. \end

(and I was just checking the text and forgot the bib)

Maybe it helps someone in the future.

  • The warning has nothing to do with Misplaced alignment tab character & messages. Wrongly escaped/unescaped &s are a problem in BibTeX and Biber (in biblatex anyway, with classical BibTeX you can get away with slightly more ...).
    – moewe
    May 27, 2020 at 14:07

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