Most of what is said about
natbib in bibtex vs. biber and biblatex vs. natbib also applies to
cite. They play a similar role and both use the same underlying workflow to produce bibliographies: Compilation with BibTeX and
.bst files (this is what I called "the BibTeX way of creating bibliographies" elsewhere). In fact both packages are mainly concerned with the output of citations and not so much with the bibliography output, which is controlled by the
The difference between
cite is 'only' in their specific set of features, while the difference to
biblatex is conceptional.
cite are incompatible and
natbib emulates some key features of the
cite package (see p. 1 of the
natbib documentation). I haven't actually checked if you can recreate everything that
cite can do with
natbib, but I'm fairly confident that you can get quite far.
natbib offers many features that
cite does not have, mainly support for author-year citations (
.bst file permitting) and new citation commands like
There are more BibTeX-based citation packages:
harvard, ... There is also
jurabib takes the idea of BibTeX bibliographies to the next level and is in some ways much closer to
biblatex's approach than to the other packages.
For what it is worth you might not need a package like
natbib at all if you are only after simple numeric citations. LaTeX's built-in
\cite might already be enough for you. See What bibliography is used if no package is loaded? and What is the default bibliography package and backend in LaTeX?.
If you have already decided that you want to use
biblatex instead of
natbib, I don't really think you would want to use
That said, while I am very happy to recommend to use
biblatex there is at least one area where
biblatex is clearly inferior to BibTeX-based bibliography solutions: Submissions to publishers and journals as well as preprint services with on-server compilation like the arXiv (see Biblatex: submitting to a journal and Making the arXiv accept a BibTeX BBL (May 2018) as well as many other questions about this topic). Additionally,
biblatex is still being developed, so there is a risk of changes (some of which might not be fully backwards compatible, take the notorious Biblatex 3.3 name formatting). Most BibTeX-based solutions have been stable for many moons and are therefore usually not very sensitive to version issues.