My dear LaTeX users,

I'm quite new to Latex and as PhD student in Chemistry at want to prepare all my manuscripts in LaTeX even though my groups is not a big LaTeX user (I'm tired of Word). Unfortunately some relevant journal in the chemistry field have some quotes like this

  • For quickest processing, we prefer to receive final manuscripts from authors in Word docx format.
  • Prepare only one .tex file; do not use \include or \input to incorporate another source file.
  • If you are using BibTeX, do not submit .bib and .bbl files. Instead, compile your LaTeX and copy the contents of the generated .bbl file into your .tex file.

How do you deal with them?

I think that the \include{} keyword is quite useful to change from one paper style to another one you first opinion gets rejected. And I don't even know who to deal with the third point as I usually export a .bib file from my all library in Mendeley and not only the papers that I'm citing and for that reason the .bib files is quite big.

  • 7
    \include is not that related to changing style, it can speed up drafts but it is trivial to replace by a single file for submission. The third point is trivial, simply do as you quote and copy the generated bbl file into your main document. The size of your bib file is not relevant, the bbl file only has the document-specific bibliography Oct 29, 2019 at 22:01
  • 3
    If a journal requires Word submission, write the paper in Word. Although there are ways to convert documents, they are likely to cause more problems than writing in Word to begin with. For bibliographies, standard BibTeX is usually easier than biblatex (see Biblatex: submitting to a journal). Using \input and \include has no real advantage for article length documents.
    – Alan Munn
    Oct 29, 2019 at 22:21
  • Just FYI, MS Word has a lot of cool features... including the ability to typeset basic LaTex commands
    – hola
    Oct 30, 2019 at 4:20
  • 1
    @pushpen.paul and completely unusable when it comes to automatic bibliography handling, cross-referencing and numbering. This part is usually the worst when producing a word submission: renumbering all citations by hand in the entire paper, because attempts at using automatic system broke the document and created invisible reference stubs, broken lines and spent way too much time on trying to fix it.
    – orion
    Oct 30, 2019 at 16:32

1 Answer 1


The journal's input requirements are very straightforward.

To fix ideas, let's assume that your document consists of four files you created yourself: main.tex, sec1.tex, sec2.tex, and mybib.bib. mybib.bib may contain entries that are not cited in the body of the document. Let's also assume that you know to deploy \cite, \bibliographystyle, and \bibliography statements and that you know how and when to run BibTeX, in addition to LaTeX, in order to create the formatted bibliography (which will be stored in main.bbl).

Suppose, next, that main.tex has the following structure:

\documentclass{<whatever>} % does the journal specify which document class must be used?
% preamble material, including a suitable \bibliographystyle instruction

\input sec1 % including various \cite directives
\input sec2

The first applicable instruction is:

Prepare only one .tex file; do not use \include or \input to incorporate another source file.

To meet this requirement, simply delete (or comment out) the two \input statements in main.tex and replace them with the contents of sec1.tex and sec2.tex. After these operations, main.tex should contain the complete LaTeX code for the document.

The only way this can fail is if the final pdf file consists of -- in addition to files with extension .tex -- graphics files (in eps, png, or pdf format, say) that are loaded via \includegraphics statements. If the final pdf file does rely on externally-stored graphics files, you'll simply have to include them alongside main.tex when you upload the files to the journal's website.

The second instruction is:

If you are using BibTeX, do not submit .bib and .bbl files. Instead, compile your LaTeX and copy the contents of the generated .bbl file into your .tex file.

After running LaTeX, BibTeX, and LaTeX twice more to create the formatted bibliography and resolve all \cite commands, delete (or comment out) the \bibliography statement and replace that statement with the contents of main.bbl. These contents will likely start with \begin{thebibliography}{<some integer>} and end with \end{thebibliography}.

You should be able to compile the complete file main.tex with LaTeX without any further ado. It is this version of main.tex that you should submit to the journal.

Some final comments: It's actually quite striking that the journal doesn't appear to impose any additional requirements regarding the document class, the font families, or the page layout. Consider yourself lucky! Do make life for the journal's editorial team as simple as possible by using either article or report as the document class and only the standard font families, and do make sure to engage in very little or, better still, no visual formatting. The editorial team will take note and be most appreciative.

  • 1
    These journals usually check correctness of references automatically. I find it strange that they want generated .bbl, which is much more difficult to parse and process than .bib (and may be hand-generated, or produced with completely different bibliography styles). Meanwhile, .bib file is structured data that is meant to be machine-processed. I'm dealing with such requirements quite a lot, and it strikes me as counterproductive (and possibly dangerous, as parsing and converting generated bibliography into some other format can introduce countless errors).
    – orion
    Oct 30, 2019 at 16:28
  • 2
    @orion - I actually fully agree with you. Do note, though, that my answer made no attempt to understand -- let alone justify or support -- the journal's LaTeX- and BibTeX-related requirements. All I meant to achieve was to explain how the OP might go about satisfying the journal's requirements. BTW, the purpose of the "final comments " paragraph was to encourage the OP to keep things as basic as possible (including using BibTeX and a hopefully fairly basic bibliography style). That way, if and when the paper gets accepted, the OP's additional formatting work shouldn't be too tedious.
    – Mico
    Oct 30, 2019 at 16:37
  • @orion The .bib file may contain wide list of items, the .bbl file is, on the other hand, compiled for the document and contains only the references namely used within the document.
    – Crowley
    Oct 30, 2019 at 19:46
  • @Crowley - Thanks for this follow-up. (I agree with you too...) I think that one of the ideas that orion may have tried to express is that since the journal appears to provide no guidance as to what might constitute a preferred, or even an acceptable, bibliography style, the likelihood that the OP's formatted bibliography will look even close to what the journal requires are rather slim, to put it charitably. If the journal's editorial staff then tries to hand-edit the contents of the thebibliography environment, lots of errors and inaccuracies are bound to creep in.
    – Mico
    Oct 30, 2019 at 21:00

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