I read this and understood that you can only be using either biblatex or natbib. However, I have been able to compile just fine with citations without writing neither \usepackage{natbib} nor \usepackage{biblatex}. To compile, I use the macOS terminal and run: pdflatex bibtex pdflatex pdflatex.

I am using texlive.

So, which package I am using when I don't specify the package? Or how is it possible that my file is compiling just fine when I am not writing specifically \usepackage ?

  • No particular package is used in this case. Oct 24, 2017 at 13:37

1 Answer 1


The LaTeX kernel includes support for \cite and the \bibliography/\bibliographystyle commands. However, this functionality is quite limited compared with natbib or biblatex. For example, there is only the 'simple'\cite command, with no possibility to cite by name or similar. Moreover, only numerical bibliographies are supported by this method. Thus many users load additional packages to address what are common use cases.

  • Thank you! I guess I will have to start using a package then. I think I'll go for natbib
    – evaristegd
    Oct 24, 2017 at 13:39
  • 2
    biblatex+biber is much more powerful and can be easily customised.
    – Bernard
    Oct 24, 2017 at 13:58
  • @Bernard No argument with that (cf. my LaTeX3 plans in this area) :)
    – Joseph Wright
    Oct 24, 2017 at 14:08

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