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I would like to cite entries from Merriam Webster online dictionary and the Oxford Dictionary online. Neither offers a BiBTeX format. The citation that MW suggests looks like this:

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Abulia. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved July 8, 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abulia

The OED suggests this format (in Chicago style)

"akrasia, n.". OED Online. June 2020. Oxford University Press. https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/240257?redirectedFrom=akrasia (accessed July 08, 2020).

How can I enter these into a BiBTeX file and cite them in my work? Or, should I switch to BiBLaTeX and, if so, how?

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The best input™ will depend the output you expect and the bibliography style you use. While there is broad agreement in most available BibTeX styles about commonly cited types like @article, @book, @incollection, ... less common types (at the time BibTeX was written) – like online sources – or types not that often cited in STEM fields – like dictionary entries – are far less uniformly supported.

Most styles probably will not have a specific type for (online) dictionary entries. The following types would be obvious choices

  • @inreference. This is a biblatex type and I couldn't find any BibTeX style on my machine that supports it. In theory it would be a perfect fit, since @inreference is specifically intended to be used for entries in reference works like dictionaries. The biblatex standard styles treat @inreference pretty much like @incollection.

    In biblatex you could use

    @inreference{mw:abulia,
      author    = {Merriam-Webster},
      title     = {Abulia},
      booktitle = {Merriam-Webster.com dictionary},
      url       = {https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abulia},
      urldate   = {2020-07-08},
    }
    @inreference{oed:akrasia,
      title     = {akrasia, n.},
      booktitle = {OED Online},
      date      = {2020-06},
      publisher = {Oxford University Press},
      url       = {https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/240257?redirectedFrom=akrasia},
      urldate   = {2020-07-08},
    }
    
  • @incollection. Most BibTeX styles will support this type. Semantically it is quite a good fit (as a generalisation of @inreference). The downside is that some styles may not expect a URL for types like this.

    Slightly adapting the previous example (date -> year+month) we get

    @incollection{mw:abulia,
      author    = {Merriam-Webster},
      title     = {Abulia},
      booktitle = {Merriam-Webster.com dictionary},
      url       = {https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abulia},
      urldate   = {2020-07-08},
    }
    @incollection{oed:akrasia,
      title     = {akrasia, n.},
      booktitle = {OED Online},
      year      = {2020},
      month     = jun,
      publisher = {Oxford University Press},
      url       = {https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/240257?redirectedFrom=akrasia},
      urldate   = {2020-07-08},
    }
    

    Note that most BibTeX styles don't support urldate and some even don't support url, so you may have to work around that with for example howpublished and note (though some BibTeX styles support a url field and a field like lastchecked; check out the documentation, experiment a bit or look at the .bst source directly to figure out what works).

  • @online. Many newer styles support a type like @online or @electronic. Often the type does not have fields like booktitle where you could put the dictionary name or publisher, so some creativity might be needed.

  • @misc. The last resort, but it should be available in all styles. Again, there generally isn't a lot of field structure here for booktitle/the dictionary name, so you have to cook up something that looks nice by (ab)using other fields.

One problem with dictionary entries is that they usually have no identifiable author, so the first question is whether or not you want to put the dictionary name as author or if you want to leave the author field empty. Many styles have no problem with missing author fields, but in some setups (natbib with authoryear option) a missing author could be an issue.

Another question is where you put the dictionary name if you use a generic type like @online or @misc, which generally only supports one type of title.

Just as one data point, here is what the standard biblatex style authoryear produces with @inreference.

\documentclass[british]{article}
\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}
\usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}
\usepackage{babel}
\usepackage{csquotes}

\usepackage[style=authoryear, backend=biber]{biblatex}

\begin{filecontents}{\jobname.bib}
@inreference{mw:abulia,
  author    = {Merriam-Webster},
  title     = {Abulia},
  booktitle = {Merriam-Webster.com dictionary},
  url       = {https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abulia},
  urldate   = {2020-07-08},
}
@inreference{oed:akrasia,
  title     = {akrasia, n.},
  booktitle = {OED Online},
  date      = {2020-06},
  publisher = {Oxford University Press},
  url       = {https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/240257?redirectedFrom=akrasia},
  urldate   = {2020-07-08},
}
\end{filecontents}
\addbibresource{\jobname.bib}


\begin{document}
\autocite{mw:abulia,oed:akrasia}
\printbibliography
\end{document}

(Merriam-Webster 2020; akrasia, n. 2020)//akrasia, n. (June 2020). In: OED Online. Oxford University Press. url: https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/240257?redirectedFrom=akrasia (visited on 08/07/2020).//Merriam-Webster (2020). Abulia. In: Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. url: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abulia (visited on 08/07/2020).

If you haven't used biblatex before, you may want to read biblatex in a nutshell (for beginners) and What to do to switch to biblatex? to see what you have to do to switch. Keep in mind that biblatex's default backend is Biber and not BibTeX, so ideally you would compile your document with Biber instead of BibTeX, see Biblatex with Biber: Configuring my editor to avoid undefined citations.

Here's what natbib makes from @incollections

\documentclass[british]{article}
\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}
\usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}
\usepackage{babel}
\usepackage{csquotes}

\usepackage{natbib}

\begin{filecontents}{\jobname.bib}
@incollection{mw:abulia,
  author    = {Merriam-Webster},
  title     = {Abulia},
  booktitle = {Merriam-Webster.com dictionary},
  year      = {n.d.},
  url       = {https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abulia},
  note      = {Retrieved 8 Jul. 2020},
}
@incollection{oed:akrasia,
  title     = {akrasia, n.},
  booktitle = {OED Online},
  year      = {2020},
  month     = jun,
  publisher = {Oxford University Press},
  url       = {https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/240257?redirectedFrom=akrasia},
  note      = {Retrieved 8 Jul. 2020},
}
\end{filecontents}


\begin{document}
\citep{mw:abulia,oed:akrasia}
\bibliographystyle{plainnat}
\bibliography{\jobname}
\end{document}

akrasia, n. In OED Online. Oxford University Press, June 2020. URL https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/240257?redirectedFrom=akrasia.Retrieved 8 Jul. 2020.//Merriam-Webster. Abulia. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. n.d. URL https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abulia. Retrieved 8 Jul. 2020.

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