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I am making my own latex bibliography style with makebst (see https://tex.stackexchange.com/a/96179/175861). I chose to incude REVTeX data fields.
One of the last selections I have to make is

<<REFERENCE COMPONENT TAGS:
(*) No reference component tags in the \bibitem entries
(b) Reference component tags like \bibinfo in the content of \bibitem

What does this mean? How are the two options different?

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The documentation file merlin.pdf has slightly more info on p. 20

Reference component tagging: apply structure to the \bibitem contents.

--            no tagging.

bibinfo   apply tags like \bibinfo, and \eprint to the fields of data in the content of the \bibitem statement.

and later on p. 48

If reference component tagging is enabled, we apply tags like \bibinfo and \eprint to the fields of data in the content of the \bibitem statement. We also ensure that these commands have a default meaning within the scope of the thebibliography environment. The default definitions simply print the field and ignore the tag. However, other programs or packages might make use of the tag information to separate authors from title, for example.

Indeed the .bst file will add the following definition to the thebibliography preamble

\providecommand{\bibinfo}[2]{#2}

The history section on p. 5 also mentions \bibinfo briefly

An additional feature that derived from Carlisle’s work on REVTeX is the tagging of the text entries in the bibliography. This means the volume number is given as \bibinfo{volume}{5}. Normally only the number 5 is printed, but another program could use this to reconstruct the original database entries.


Unless your document defines \bibinfo different from \providecommand{\bibinfo}[2]{#2} you will not see a difference in output between choosing bibinfo and not selecting it.

\bibinfo was mainly intended to give third parties with access to the .bbl file/.tex source of your bibliography a convenient way to uniquely and automatically reproduce the .bib entry. In a short search I haven't found any information online about tools actually using \bibinfo for that purpose and a look at the .bst files installed on my system suggests that only a few styles actually use \bibinfo (the revtex, acmart, elsarticle, ... families). I doubt it is used much.

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    Thank you for your explanations! Did I understand correctly that I should use the default ("not tags") if I don't have a \bibinfo in my document?
    – Soalpa
    May 5, 2019 at 17:16
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    @Soalpa It's not exactly about what you have in your document, it's more about what you want in your .bbl file. From an output perspective the two options will be the same unless you actively work against that.
    – moewe
    May 5, 2019 at 19:57
  • Okay, I think I got it now. Thank you! :)
    – Soalpa
    May 6, 2019 at 13:13

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