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So I have a paper accepted to a journal, and the editor emails me saying that they're ready to publish it, I just need to fix the format of the references slightly. Up to this point, I've casually been using natbib and \bibliographystyle{unsrt}. So I look at their author guidelines and previously published papers, and they tell me what the style they want is, but provide no .bst or other file.

So this should be easy with latex, right? Just change some flags or something and it should change all the references' format. So half of my question (though I'm afraid I already know the answer) is, is there some way to find a style that matches what I'm looking for, if one exists? I've found a few list type things that show what different styles end up looking like, but I'm guessing that it would be difficult to find something in this way.

Okay, so I found that the biblatex-science style is actually ALMOST exactly what I need. The only thing is, it makes the citations in the text appear in parentheses, rather than square brackets, which is what I need. I'd understand if there's some reason you can't slightly change a style (though I found this question that seems like it might work?), okay.

But how can I make my own .bst file? It seems like it should be really simple to have a file that says "make author names use initials, have the journal name be in italics, have the issue number be bold", etc. I found this question but the answers honestly don't seem hopeful -- one requires linux (don't have it), and one references some 3rd party software.

Am I missing something here? Is this just something that people almost never have to do? Is there some much easier way of doing what I want? thanks in advance for any advice.

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    If the biblatex-science style really is fine in all other respects, it's trivial to change the parentheses, as the linked question. The other answer (using makebst) will produce a file usable with natbib not biblatex, but is also a possibility. I assume the journal doesn't want LaTeX source, but PDF? – Alan Munn Jul 16 '17 at 4:21
  • @AlanMunn Even worse, they for some reason want a MS word doc... so I also have to do the loathsome task of converting that. But I realized I actually want the nature style, with a slight variation. I think I found the solution, so maybe I'll close this question. – YungHummmma Jul 16 '17 at 4:30
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    If they want a Word document, do it with a proper tool like Word. Do not use LaTeX. – Johannes_B Jul 16 '17 at 4:34
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    Recalcitrant Linux user here since 1995, so I am not 110% sure about others OS, but I think that makebst is actually a TeX program, although it will also run under LaTeX, so tex makebst or latex makebst should work in any OS. The only disadvantage of makebst is that you must answer a lot of question fixing every style aspect, to the point that modify biblatex-science style probably will be easier and simpler. – Fran Jul 16 '17 at 7:38
  • @Johannes_B unfortunately that's not really an option. We did the whole project in latex before we knew we were submitting to this journal. – YungHummmma Jul 16 '17 at 17:05
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There are several ways to obtain a bibliography style. Which one you should take depends on your situation.

  1. Make your own .bst with makebst. This tool is available in MikTeX and TeX live and runs under Windows, Linux and OS X. You will answer a series of questions and in the end you will get a .bst file that conforms to the answers you gave. If you have to change something really unusual, this tool might not be able to help you. Plus there really is quite a number of questions. See also Is there an (easy) way to create or personalize .bst files?

  2. Modify an existing .bst file. Of course you should only modify a renamed copy of an existing .bst. Depending on how much you have to change this is a viable option. But for me at least the Polish notation of the .bst makes it cumbersome to modify.

  3. Find a biblatex style and modify that. biblatex styles use a more LaTeX-like syntax and are therefore easier to modify than .bst files. You can either take one of the standard styles as basis, or use one of the many available custom styles. Be aware though that custom styles can be much harder to modify since some of them have to go through great lengths to get the right output. Most things that 'should be easy' are actually easy with biblatex, but there are the odd changes that should be easy yet are not easy at all. Additionally, biblatex is still under development and 'new', so it might not be in everybody's workflow yet and version conflicts (between collaborators or machines) can be a problem.

  4. Write a new biblatex style from scratch. At least for me this comes down to 3 since I always need inspiration and guidance for such things.

  5. If all else fails, there is always the manual thebibliography way.

In 2. and 3. it is important to find a list of available styles and their output, so you can determine where to start from. For .bst files there is Where can I find collections of bibliography styles?. For biblatex I would use the CTAN topic site (https://www.ctan.org/topic/biblatex) most styles come with example files that show the output.

Obviously in an ideal world you would just use the method that mean the least work for you.

There are a few caveats: Very few journals can accept biblatex submissions. Biblatex: submitting to a journal, there might be tricks to get things going, but in general the outlook is bleak. Some journals might not accept external files, so with them you can't bundle your custom .bst files.

In your situation where you have to hand in a Word file, I would seriously consider modifying the bibliography manually in Word after conversion from TeX. You will have to fine-tune and check the converted document anyway. This is a good option especially if you bibliography is not too large and the modifications modest.


To your specific problem: I don't think my answer to Biblatex numeric style: replace square with round brackets in both citations and bibliography is too complicated and I can assure you that it works, but I will admit that it needs a bit more code than one might have thought. (It's one of these 'that should be easy' things...)

With biblatex-science, you are lucky that the developer used a slightly more radical method. There getting square brackets back (i.e. reversing his changes) is as easy as

\makeatletter
\renewcommand*{\bibleftbracket}{\blx@postpunct[}
\renewcommand*{\bibrightbracket}{\blx@postpunct]\midsentence}
\makeatother

MWE

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}
\usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}
\usepackage[british]{babel}
\usepackage{lmodern}

\usepackage{csquotes}
\usepackage[backend=biber, style=science]{biblatex}
\bibliography{biblatex-examples.bib}

\makeatletter
\renewcommand*{\bibleftbracket}{\blx@postpunct[}
\renewcommand*{\bibrightbracket}{\blx@postpunct]\midsentence}
\makeatother

\begin{document}

This is a test to cite \autocite{sigfridsson} and cite \autocite{worman} and cite \autocite{sigfridsson}.

\printbibliography
\end{document}

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