I have a .bib file that contains information about some of my papers. I also have a .bbl file, automatically produced by BibTeX, that contains the compiled information (\bibitem{} series) of another set of papers.

How can I use both .bib and .bbl in one LaTeX document? If I simply use \input for the BBL, the numberings of references (and even themselves) will not be correct. A solution that let's me decompile the .bbl also works.

In this very case, using .bbl is no problem because it's in the bibliography style I am using. Also, all references in .bbl will be used in the file document.

  • To make sure I understand your setup: First, you do not have access to the bib entries that were used in the creation of the existing bbl file, right? Second, are you using a numeric or an author-year citation and referencing style?
    – Mico
    Mar 14, 2012 at 0:16
  • No, I don't have access to the original bib file. It's IEEE style, which is numeric. Mar 14, 2012 at 4:32
  • Just got the same problem. Unfortunately, you can not get back from .bbl to .bib because .bib contains structured information while .bbl contains the generated \bibitem{} list according to specific parameters/style etc. Therefore- loss of information happens and you will not (at least in straightforward manner) get back to .bib entry. Maybe it is possible with some kind of regular expressions to reformulate the bib entries... So- for the moment, best thing I see is the one mentioned by Stephan Lehmmke in the answer.
    – Vairis
    Oct 26, 2012 at 12:55

1 Answer 1


I would forget about the bbl until the paper is just about finished, then generate a bbl from the bib one last time and merge both bbl files by hand, hand-adjusting the numbers.

The citations will be automatically correct as they refer to the \bibitem commands in the bbl.

  • I wish I could, but the paper is being written in a collaborative effort and goes back and forth multiple times. May 1, 2012 at 6:32
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    Well for draft versions it won't be a showstopper if the reference numbering is off, will it? May 1, 2012 at 6:43
  • A showstopper no, but a major turn off yes. "Why papers are not cited correctly" or "what isn't my paper included" will be among the first comments I receive. May 1, 2012 at 7:01
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    In that case, I'm afraid the only way will be to create a bib file representing the bbl. May 1, 2012 at 7:06

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