I'm trying to write my first LaTeX document, but I'm getting a wired error message with regards to using Texmaker to use biblatex. Whenever I try to compile my code the log highlights my \begin{document} line and states the following:

! Package biblatex Error: file "'Document name".bbl' not created by biblatex.

Where "Document name" is the name of my LaTeX file.

Here's my preamble:

\documentclass[11pt, twoside]{article}
\usepackage[margin = 2.5cm]{geometry}
\usepackage{amsfonts,mathtools,amssymb, amsthm}


    style = authoryear

Strangely, my test document for biblatex does work, which has the source code:


\usepackage[backend = biber,
    style = authoryear

This is a text for bibLaTeX. \cite{HistOfMaths}


I'm using Texmaker v5.0.2 and Windows 10 as my environment. I've made sure to configure Texmaker, as per the following screencaps:

Texmaker configuration, Commands

Texmaker configuration, Quick Build

Texmaker configuration, Editor

I've been trying for 3 days now to get some sort of automated references within my document via some LaTeX package, and it's really starting to drive me insane.

  • 3
    Delete the .bbl file. This was generated with another programme (probably BibTeX). If you delete it, it will be recreated by Biblatex on the next run.
    – cfr
    Jul 19, 2018 at 3:25
  • Off-topic: best steer clear of tabu.
    – cfr
    Jul 19, 2018 at 3:26
  • @cfr I can't believe that actually worked. I just stunned as to how Texmaker or LaTeX would be stupid enough to generate a file that breaks it. Thanks a bunch cfr!
    – Harrison O
    Jul 19, 2018 at 3:40
  • You ran bibtex on the file. Or you told TeXmaker to run it. Nothing to do with LaTeX. Probably bibtex is default. You likely changed it to Biber. But then you're left with the file generated by BibTeX.
    – cfr
    Jul 19, 2018 at 3:43
  • Just to make sure that the link to tex.stackexchange.com/q/154751/35864 is here.
    – moewe
    Jul 19, 2018 at 4:59

1 Answer 1


When you first compile your .tex file, you produce some other files with information about the bibliography. You then run another tool to produce a .bbl file. That file is then read back when you recompile your document to produce the bibliography and citations.

But the format of the .bbl file depends on the tools you're using to generate the bibliography.

  • If you use BibTeX, the .bbl has a pretty straightforward format, which looks pretty much as your bibliography would look if you entered it by hand using the thebibliography environment.

  • If you use Biblatex and Biber, the .bbl has a very different format, which looks nothing like code for your bibliography would look if you entered it manually. This is because Biblatex parses this file in a much more sophisticated way.

The upshot of this is that whether you use Biblatex/Biber or BibTeX, the .bbl is read in when you recompile the document but, the format of that file has to match the tools you're using.

So, if you initially run bibtex <filename> to produce a .bbl and then try to recompile the document with a \usepackage{biblatex} line, Biblatex will find that the .bbl has the 'wrong' format. This can happen because you explicitly run bibtex or it can happen because your editor is configured to run bibtex automatically whenever you compile a document.

Whatever the cause, Biblatex will find that the .bbl format is the old-style format which looks like code for your bibliography, rather than the new-style format which doesn't and which Biblatex expects.

Hence, Biblatex will give you an error because it is faced with a .bbl which it knows is designed for a different bibliographic tool-set.

The point is that Biblatex will not overwrite or remove a file which you might not want it to, because that might be pretty bad. Instead, it tells you about the problem so that you can decide what to do.

What you typically want to do is to simply delete the .bbl file, recompile the document and run biber to generate a .bbl with the correct format. Then, when you recompile again, Biblatex will find a .bbl in the format it expects.


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