# How to increase the horizontal space between the label and the bibliography item, by editing the .bst file

I created a custom .bst file to manage my bibliography style using `natbib` and I can't find where and how to format the horizontal space between the labels and the bibliography entries. In particular, I would need a tab distance instead of a simple space. Any ideas on how to achieve that?

• Did you employ the `makebst` utility of the `custom-bib` package to create the custom bst file? I get the impression from your write-up that the bibliography style is set to create numeric-style citation call-outs. Is this impression correct? – Mico May 11 at 17:33
• there is no "tab distance" in TeX: tab characters are treated the same as a space character in almost all contexts. Your question would be clearer if you showed an example. Most bibliographies are set as a list and so the spacing details can be changed just by changing the list typesetting parameters from within latex, and not needing a change to the bst file. – David Carlisle May 11 at 20:09
• @Mico: yes, I used the `makebst`utility, and yes, the labels are numeric. However, as is suggested in @Boris answer and @DavidCarlisle comment, it seems that's not something one determines in the .bst – Sofia May 12 at 16:17
• @Sofia - Indeed, for most bst files -- including those that are created with the help of the `makebst` utility -- the distance between the numeric labels and the start of the formatted content of a bibliographic entry is governed by a LaTeX parameter (`\labelsep`, to be precise) that is usually not set by the bst file. However, it is entirely conceivable that sombody creates an unusual bst file which, in fact, sets the value of `\labelsep` directly. That's why I asked if you had used the `makebst` utility. – Mico May 12 at 17:06
• Thank you for your comments, @Mico. Since I've just started learning about custom bib styles, I found interesting to know that I could do it in the .bst file, even if there's an easier way directly in the .tex file. – Sofia May 12 at 22:35

The distance between the bibliography label and the item is set in the LaTeX code rather than bst code. This is the parameter `\labelsep`.
Just put before `\bibliography` the command
``````\setlength{\labelsep}{5em} %Change 5 em to taste