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The file format extension of .bib stands for the "bibliography"; a file that the BibTeX engine gets as an input. The file-format-extension of .bst has been derived from the expression of "bibliography style", as an equivalent command in LaTeX represents the same. But, what does the .bbl file-extension stand for in LaTeX? Is it derived from, or has something to do with the "bibliography library" or perhaps "bibliography for LaTeX", or even "bibliography lists"?!

I appreciate response, specially the ones with references.

  • bbl is a tex file after the bib compilation through bibtex or biblatex/biber etc [according to the bibliography style file (bst)]. Take a look to this related on how to use in order to understand more: tex.stackexchange.com/a/417440/120578 – koleygr Jul 15 at 13:43
  • @koleygr I know where is this file comes from and what is that for, but I don't sure about that bbl file extension stands for what words in abbreviation? – Qaher Jul 15 at 13:47
  • Possibly/Probably "BiBLiography". In Greek it is easy to suppose that because BIBLIO is the BOOK and BIBLIOGRAPHY comes from BIBLIO and GRAPHO=WRITE. – koleygr Jul 15 at 13:49
  • Well, it could also mean “Better Be LaTeX [code this time around]!”. Whatever floats your boat. – Kess Vargavind Jul 15 at 14:41
  • @KessVargavind No it couldn't, because there should be a relative LaTeX concepts around for these extensions. – Qaher Jul 15 at 15:04
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It is just a part of a filename it doesn't have to stand for anything, and I have never seen it defined as an acronym.

However this is introduced in the LaTeX Book by the phrase

When BiBTeX is run, it reads information from the auxiliary file and produces a file named myfile.bbl containing the LaTeX commands to produce the source list.

The "source list" phrase is used two or three times more in the BibTeX description in that section so you might say it stands for "BiBliography List" or "BiBLiography".

But mostly it is just a three letter file extension with a name different from .bib (the bibtex input) and .blg (the bibtex log).

  • I think this is very natural to say that .bbl extension stands for bibliography list(s). Is that true? – Qaher Jul 15 at 13:53
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    @Qaher there is no true or not true, it is just a three letter extension as part of a filename it does not really stand for anything, although as I show in this answer the words "Bibliography" and "List" were probably in Leslie Lamport's mind at the time. – David Carlisle Jul 15 at 13:54
  • That's exactly where the ambiguity arises! The founder of such files is a "LaTeX"ist, and this type of files gets created only in LaTeX, not in the very TeX. That's why such a doubt comes into mind, that should it have anything to do with the expression of "bibliography latex", or does it! – Qaher Jul 15 at 14:20
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    @Qaher as I have said repeatedly now, it is just a file extension it does not have to have any connection with any English words. Perhaps Leslie Lamport had some words in mind when thinking of the extension, perhaps not but as far as I can see it is not documented as meaning anything anywhere. – David Carlisle Jul 15 at 14:23
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    @Qaher it is not defined as an acronym in the LaTeX Book, or in the comments in the latex sources or in the source code of bibtex. – David Carlisle Jul 15 at 14:56

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