A couple of times when using bibtex, I would have liked to have a direct support for citing and formatting entries of standards (also specifications, directives, norms, RFCs, and the like) in my bibliographies.

  1. With bibtex, the typical way is to use the @misc entry format (see, e.g. here and here). That has been my approach for years. Alternatively, one can also use @manual and @techreport.
  2. biblatex supports patents and, though, "unsupported", also standards. (It is unclear to me what "unsupported" means.) Anyway, a switch to biblatex came in handy, usually.
  3. One can craft their own custom entry types with either of the bibliography packages, e.g. using custom-bib. (Though, I am not courageous enough to work that through.)

Regarding 3., would this be a "standard" way to do it? Are there attempts to extend the predefined set of entry types of bibtex and to include standards in the supported set of entry types in biblatex? Thank you!

1 Answer 1


PLK's answer to How to cite a standard (ISO, etc.) in BibLaTeX? that you cite in your question is actually not an example of using custom-bib. custom-bib is a tool to produce customised .bst files for use with BibTeX. PLK's answer was specifically about implementing a more useful @standard driver for biblatex.

BibTeX styles

Not a lot of .bst styles seem to support types like @patent or @standard. On my machine I could find the IEEEtran styles (http://www.ctan.org/pkg/ieeetran) with support for @patent, @standard and achemso (https://ctan.org/pkg/achemso) with support for @patent.


custom-bib is an awesome way to create a customised bibliography style for BibTeX by answering a series of questions about your desired result (seriously, I hadn't used the tool in a few years and I was really impressed by the customisations it offers and the result). But fundamentally, custom-bib has to stick to a certain framework of entry types and modifications. As far as I can see there is no way to make custom-bib create new entry types like @standard or @patent. So you would have to add these types and their definition by hand afterwards. This is certainly not impossible, but it is going to be quite some work and BibTeX's reverse Polish notation may need a few moments of getting used to.


With biblatex an approach similar to How to cite a standard (ISO, etc.) in BibLaTeX? would be the way to go if the default behaviour is not satisfying (it probably is not).

The "unsupported" status of @standard and other biblatex type was an unfortunate choice of word (for a section heading) that has given rise to confusion. See for example Biblatex: unsupported entry types - why are they defined at all?. In the next version of biblatex @standard and the other types listed in that section will be "non-standard" types. This might still confuse people, but it describes the situation more accurately. These types are officially recognised and accepted, valid entry types, but the biblatex standard styles do not have a driver definition set up for these types and will essentially use a fall-back definition (the @misc driver). Some contributed styles, however, may have more specific definitions in place and you can certainly roll your own definition.

Efforts to bring @patent and @standard to more styles


I am not aware of a concentrated effort to bring @patent and @standard to existing BibTeX styles. Many styles have remained untouched for years and I doubt that a lot of them will be updated (the vast number of styles available on CTAN have been contributed by many different people, updating their work would require contacting them). I guess people manage to get by with @misc and a bit of hackery so that there is no pressing need to start such a huge effort. Compare this to the situation with URLs in .bst files. Some of the early .bst files were written back when URLs were not really a thing and while many modern styles already support URLs, some old (especially the base styles) do not. There are projects like urlbst and many newer styles support URLs, but the base styles still don't. And I guess the number of people who are interested in URL support is at least one magnitude larger than those who are passionate about @standard and @patent entries.


As for biblatex there is https://github.com/plk/biblatex/issues/388. Aside from the policy question there is always the question of what exactly should be implemented. Different standard bodies may have different ways of referring to their standards and so it is not clear to me whether one could implement a useful generic @standard that works with all biblatex standard styles. (How should a @standard citation to ISO8601 look in style=authoryear? It seems that this would require changes to the citation macros that would make them quite unsightly.)

  • Thank you, @moewe, for this comprehensive guidance. Sorry for my misunderstanding of custom-bib. I think, IEEEtran and the standard-to-misc mapping of biblatex are a good start. And, the URL issue you mentioned is kind of a heavily desired feature of bibtex, although, there are quite comfortable fixes for that.
    – mfg
    Commented Sep 2, 2018 at 11:42
  • @Mario Re the URL feature see also listserv.uni-heidelberg.de/cgi-bin/…. I mentioned it only to provide perspective on how likely it is that the base styles would be changed.
    – moewe
    Commented Sep 2, 2018 at 11:52
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    @Mario While the citation recommendation from Beuth works for ISO (and I assume DIN and most other members of ISO) it does not work for all standard bodies. Cf. aes.org/publications/standards/search.cfm?docID=18, w3.org/TR/skos-reference, itu.int/rec/R-REC-BT.601, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3GPP, docs.opengeospatial.org/is/12-007r2/12-007r2.html. Each body has its own set of idiosyncrasies that it would like to see honoured, so it is really tricky to build something that is universal and yet simple...
    – moewe
    Commented Sep 3, 2018 at 9:44
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    ... Simplicity is something that the standard styles should try to maintain (to a certain degree), they should be easily extensible and understandable. I really don't want the biblatex standard styles to become as complicated as biblatex-apa and biblatex-chicago just to typeset ISO norms properly. While a bibliography driver could be built to satisfy the ISO quite easily it would take quite a bit of effort to integrate the citation for anything other than the numeric styles in a clean and backwards compatible way.
    – moewe
    Commented Sep 3, 2018 at 9:48
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    Dear @Moewe, thanks for the clarification. So, as a mere user, I realise that I do not have an idea about the complexity of the hierarchy of bibliography drivers. I can imagine that one can come up with a pragmatically unified driver covering most idiosyncracies of the standards you mentioned. Handling norm-types x citation-styles + backwards-compatibility + core-stability seems tough. I will try to stick with what is there, biblatex is cool anyway.
    – mfg
    Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 13:51

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