I need to submit a paper to a conference. They require the latex source files and ask me to specify:

1) the program to process the main file. Choices are: pdflatex, xelatex, latex.

2) Program to process the bibliography. choices are: bibtex, biber, none.

All I know about my setup is that I use TexStudio 2.12.6 in Ubuntu 18.04.

Can you help me please figure out what is the program to process the main file and the bibliography? How to find an answer for the questions above?

  • You can look in the configuration menu what the default options are, if you don't know what you have used then it is probably the defaults (most likely pdflatex and bibtex). See texstudio.sourceforge.net/manual/current/… for more information.
    – Marijn
    Jun 14, 2019 at 14:49
  • 1
    if you have the .log file, then all the informations are stored in it...
    – MadyYuvi
    Jun 14, 2019 at 14:49

2 Answers 2


The code of your TeX document might give you some hints as to what TeX engine (pdfLaTeX in PDF mode, LaTeX in DVI mode, LuaLaTeX, XeLaTeX, ...) or bibliography backend (BibTeX, Biber, ...) you need to use, but it is quite possible to write documents that can be compiled with several different TeX engines.

Examples for common hints as to which engine to use are (this is by far not an exhaustive list)

  • If you are loading fontspec or polyglossia you must be using XeLaTeX or LuaLaTeX.
  • If you are loading fontenc or inputenc you should be using pdfLaTeX or LaTeX (DVI mode).
  • If you are using PSTricks directly, you need LaTeX (DVI) or XeLaTeX. For pdfLaTeX and LuaLaTeX more tricks are needed. See also How to use PSTricks in pdfLaTeX?.
  • Anything involving fancy Lua stuff (\directlua etc.) needs LuaLaTeX.

There are many more such hints, especially with packages or document classes that load other packages or otherwise hide some requirements from you.

As mentioned above, it is perfectly possible to write code that does not contain those hints and compiles fine with several engines (it is also possible to hide the clues and create a document that compiles fine)

You can always check in the .log file which engine was used, for example the beginning of a .log on my machine says

This is pdfTeX, Version 3.14159265-2.6-1.40.20 (MiKTeX 2.9.7050 64-bit) (preloaded format=pdflatex 2019.3.18)  16 JUN 2019 13:43

which means that I used pdfLaTeX for that document.

For the bibliography, things are a bit simpler

  • If you load (a non-ancient) biblatex without the backend=bibtex option or with the option backend=biber, you need Biber.
  • If you load biblatex with backend=bibtex, you need BibTeX.
  • If you have a \bibliography{...} command in your document body (and don't load biblatex), you need BibTeX.
  • If you create your bibliography manually with thebibliography or pasted the contents of your .bbl in the document, you need no bibliography backend run.

The .blg file can also tell you which backend you used, a Biber-generated .blg will start with something like

[0] Config.pm:304> INFO - This is Biber 2.12

a BibTeX file with

This is BibTeX, Version 0.99d

You can also try to find out what commands TeXstudio is configured to run for you. That may also help you to decide what to select.

We will assume that you have not changed anything under Options > Configure TeXstudio > Commands (i.e. all commands under Tools > Commands really call the executable they are named after).

If you compile more or less manually by selecting the compilers under Tools > Commands > ... then you'll know what to do.

If you use Build & View (F5 or the double green arrow) or Compile (F6 or the single green arrow), you can check which tools are run by going to Options > Configure TeXstudio > Build.

If Build & View is set to Compile & View you can read off the engine and bibliography backend in the Default Compiler and Default Bibliography Tool boxes.

Options > Configure TeXstudio > Build menu

TeXstudio uses some heuristics to decide whether or not to run the bibliography tool, so you can't quite tell the difference between None and a non-None value, but that is probably good enough. (You will very likely need a non-None value if you have a bibliography that is not created manually with thebibliography.)

  • Checking this from the configurations is the most straightforward way.
    – None
    Jun 16, 2019 at 15:47

These are all standard. Normally Latex2e is a standard compiler. Unless you have your own package manager, other packages are available. So do not worry about it. Just submit the tex version. For reference compile version, normally in pdf form.

  • I don't see how this answers the question. LaTeX2e is not a compiler, but a format. And what do package managers have to do with it?
    – Johannes_B
    Nov 11, 2019 at 12:20

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