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Trying to debug (after update to sphinx 1.8.5 from 1.7) documentation biulding produced by sphinx, we see in generated LaTeX files calls to \cite with an argument involving a path to a file, like \cite{../foo/bar:baz}, where baz is the actual citation label.

What should this mean? I have never seen such references in my 25+ years working with LaTeX. Indeed, we have thebibliography in the file ../foo/bar.tex, but is it supposed to work? Or this is a bug in the sphinx LaTeX support?

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To latex ., : and / are just normal catcode 12 non letter characters so

\cite{../foo/bar:baz}

is a perfectly good call to \cite with no more significance than

\cite{zzzzzz}

presumably the tex generator is using the filename as some kind of device to generate unique citation keys, but latex doesn't need to know that.

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