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Is it possible to have alpha style like citations, without a .bib file? Writing

See \cite{AB18}.

\begin{thebibliography}{9}

\bibitem{AB18}
Alice, Bob. \emph{Our paper}. 2018.

\end{thebibliography}

what I want is to read labels instead of numbers:

See [AB18].

References

[AB18] Alice, Bob. Our paper. 2018

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You need to supply the desired label in the optional argument to \bibitem. Make sure to specify the longest label in the argument to thebibliography, otherwise the indentation will be off.

Note further that the label shown in citations (AB18, A11) is completely independent of the internal entry key/cite key (alice, alicebob).

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

\begin{document}
See \cite{alice}.

\begin{thebibliography}{AB18}
\bibitem[A11]{alice}
Alice. \emph{My paper}. 2011.

\bibitem[AB18]{alicebob}
Alice, Bob. \emph{Our paper}. 2018.
\end{thebibliography}
\end{document}

"See [A11]" in text and "[A11]" and "[AB18]" in the bibliography.

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