If I understand correctly, it's possible to change / reformat cite keys according to a predefined scheme with BibTex using bibtool, eg:

bibtool -k foo.bib

... so that the cite keys in a bib file will be transformed from whatever state they were previously in to follow a consistent scheme of author:title, resulting is some like:

@Book{ dickens:olivertwist,

When working with biber and biblatex, is it possible to do the same type of thing and if so how?

1 Answer 1


This feature of bibtool works independently of how you produce your bibliography from the .bib file. It will work no matter if you want to use your .bib file with BibTeX or biblatex.

In general all features of bibtool that do not rely on an .aux file should in principle work independently of BibTeX for biblatex as well, since they only rewrite the .bib file with information contained in the .bib file. There are, however, small differences between the 'best input' between standard biblatex and 'standard' BibTeX (styles can always define new fields and types), so sometimes care might be needed (for example BibTeX usually uses year, where biblatex prefers date).

  • Thanks, fast answer. I realise this is slightly off topic, but is bibtool installable via tlmgr? I'm having trouble locating it. May 1, 2020 at 7:29
  • 1
    @paulswanson I don't think it is. If you are using Linux it may be available via your distribution (I managed to install it via apt on Ubuntu), but I don't think I have seen compiled binaries for Windows. Not sure about macOS. Other software such as JabRef should also be able to regenerate entry keys, so if bibtool isn't easily available on your platform, check out JabRef (docs.jabref.org/setup/bibtexkeypatterns).
    – moewe
    May 1, 2020 at 7:33
  • Linux, so will be easy enough to acquire. Thanks again. May 1, 2020 at 7:34

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