# Proper usage of biblatex-ieee BibLaTeX style in an IEEEtran document

The package `biblatex-ieee` provides a style for BibLaTeX which follows the guidelines of the IEEE (citations are numeric and unsorted). Unlike the `IEEEtran.bst` file, it provides only the bibliographic style, and not the text formatting of the bibliography section.

What happens is that with BibLaTeX the font size of the References section is the same of the other regular sections. It should be smaller, instead.

In other words, if I use the BibTeX approach

``````\bibliographystyle{IEEEtran}
\bibliography{IEEEabrv,references}
``````

I get both the proper bibliographic style and text formatting (smaller font size).

With the BibLaTeX approach instead, the font size is bigger:

Therefore, I have to format the bibliography text by myself, with something like

``````\usepackage[style=ieee]{biblatex}
[...]

\renewcommand*{\bibfont}{\footnotesize}
\printbibliography
``````

Which is the right fontsize (that is, the second argument for `\renewcommand*`) to be used with the `IEEEtran` class? (and, by the way, why cannot a BibLaTeX syle specify the text formatting, too?)

As a reference:

• ieeetran is a suggestive document class. That's why you only need to get sufficiently close to the article. Then the printing office will retype your article as they see fit including the fact that they will remove biblatex parts and retype in their own in-house style. So you don't need to bother whether you match the style exactly or not. Also note that your example IEEE paper is for conferences. but biblatex style is for article – percusse Aug 16 '17 at 21:20
• I agree with the remarks of your comment: fussing over the precise formatting of the document when we all know that IEEE rewrites it completely is indeed unnecessary. But in practice, when one prepares an article for the submission, the formatting is rendered as close as possible to the final version, in order to fit the page limits that some journals impose. (this is based on my personal experience, btw) – Alessandro Cuttin Aug 17 '17 at 7:48
• and yes, the sample paper is for conferences, but it's the only one that I found with the font size specifications. I'm rather confident that the same font sizes apply also to journals. – Alessandro Cuttin Aug 17 '17 at 7:49

A quick look into `IEEEtran.cls` reveals that the definition of `thebibliography` contains `\footnotesize`. Since `IEEEtran.bst` (and many other `.bst`s) uses `thebibliography` your bibliography in `IEEEtran` will be set `\footnotesize`. If you use `biblatex`, however, the bibliography is not set in `thebibliography`. The environment for a `biblatex` bibliography is defined by `biblatex` and not the document class.

With

``````\renewcommand*{\bibfont}{\footnotesize}
``````

You will get the same font size, but a few minor spacing details will still be different.

As to why `biblatex-ieee` does not automatically set `\bibfont` to `\footnotesize` you already got your answer from the developer at https://github.com/josephwright/biblatex-ieee/issues/37. I can follow his argument especially since - as explained above - it is actually the document class that forces the bibliography font size and not the particular `.bst` style you use. You could argue that in a way it is just because the document class does not fully support `biblatex` (in the way it supports BibTeX) that you get different output for `biblatex` and BibTeX.

It should be noted that `biblatex-ieee` is not actually intended to be used with `IEEEtran` or other official IEEE document classes. Those classes are mainly (if not exclusively) used for submissions to the IEEE. But on submission to the IEEE you should produce your bibliography as described in the documentation of the document class, which means using one of the provided BibTeX styles. See also https://github.com/josephwright/biblatex-ieee/pull/22 where the developer of `biblatex-ieee` writes

[`biblatex-ieee`] should never be used with `IEEEtrans`. The latter has an official BibTeX style which (like all journal-type submissions) must be used as specified by the publisher. The `biblatex-ieee` bundle is for users of biblatex who want an IEEE (like) bibliography style. The most obvious use case to me is theses, though grant proposals, book chapters, etc. would also fall into the same potential spectrum.