When exporting an article title containing a caret, like "10^30", Zotero outputs a .bib entry like the following:

    title = {What evidence is there that 2{\textasciicircum}65536 is a natural number?},
    journal = {Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic},
    author = {Isles, David}
    title = {Is 10{\textasciicircum}10{\textasciicircum}10 a Finite Number?},
    journaltitle = {Dialectica},
    author = {van Dantzig, D.}

It may be that this is incorrect behaviour by Zotero, but it appears to be attempting to escape the "^" character for consumption by Latex (I have the "Format: BibLaTeX" option selected when exporting).

When consumed by biber, these .bib entries lead to a .bbl file containing entries like the following:

  \field{journaltitle}{Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic}
  \field{title}{What evidence is there that 2{^}65536 is a natural number?}

  \field{title}{Is 10{^}10{^}10 a Finite Number?}

Which leads to Latex (or BibLaTeX) throwing a series of "Missing $ inserted", "Missing { inserted", "Missing $ inserted" etc errors - the same errors Latex throws if it meets "10{^}10" in normal text.

My question is which part of the chain here is misbehaving, and what should I do about it? I can manually edit the .bib file, or the .bbl file, but don't want to have to do that every time I edit the list of references.

  • 3
    if biber is converting \textasciicircum to ^ then I'd say that is a bug. (you could work round it by setting \catcode`\^=12 and then using \sp if you need a superscript Mar 14 '18 at 14:28
  • 1
    I agree that this is a bug. Please report this at the bug tracker github.com/plk/biber/issues. In the meantime you can try to use \^{}, Biber does not convert this command.
    – moewe
    Mar 14 '18 at 14:31
  • 2
    Better yet, fix the wrong 2{\textasciicircum}65536 into the correct $2^{65536}$. The original title in the van Dantzig paper has $10^{10^{10}}$, see onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1746-8361.1955.tb01332.x/… (access to the other paper is impossible ATM).
    – egreg
    Mar 14 '18 at 18:59
  • 1
    On the Zotero end, entering the title as What evidence is there that 2<sup>65536</sup> is a natural number? should produce the presumably correct title = {What evidence is there that 2^{65536} is a natural number?}, in BibLaTeX
    – adam.smith
    Mar 15 '18 at 13:10
  • 1
    I could see Isles’ paper and it indeed has a literal 2^65536 in the title (contrary to the other paper that has $10^{10^{10}}$.
    – egreg
    Mar 30 '18 at 11:10

This was a bug with Biber's character conversion. It has been reported (https://github.com/plk/biber/issues/219) and will be resolved in Biber 2.12.

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