Within an amsart document, you can add a bibliography without a BibTeX file, by directly use the \bibitem command inside a begin{thebibliography} clause. See e.g., here.

Had I used BibTeX, I could also use the bibliographystyle{alpha} to change the style. This does not work in the direct citation format using bibitem. Is there a way to enforce a style on the first option?

Also related , but was asked over 5 years ago without a direct solutions.

  • 2
    I think the answer is there's no way, except for the accepted answer in the question you link to.
    – Alan Munn
    Aug 13, 2020 at 18:51
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    A manual \bibitem is simply you decided on the formatting yourself, that's rather the point
    – Joseph Wright
    Aug 13, 2020 at 18:51
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    all bibtex does is write the thebibliography environment for you in a style as specified by the bibstyle. If you choose to write the items yourself, then you have full control over the style. Aug 13, 2020 at 18:56
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    @DavidCarlisle if so, can I decide on the style of the bullits (e.g., have [AS00] for a reference instead of [3])?
    – Amir Sagiv
    Aug 13, 2020 at 19:48
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    @AmirSagiv there is no automation, you can have any label you like \bibitem[zzzwibble]{zzz} any text for this reference Aug 13, 2020 at 19:51

1 Answer 1


The easy method to change the style of bibliography made with a thebibliography environment:

  1. Remove the bibliography (yes, the whole thebibliography environment).
  2. Now make the bibliography with bibtex, with the style that you want.
  3. Compile and verify that the references look OK in the PDF.
  4. Replace the \bibliography{...} and \bibliographystyle{...} lines by the whole content of the auxiliar .bbl file, that is just a new thebibliography environment.
  5. Ready! Now you can send to the journal a single .tex file than can be compiled only with pdflatex, xelated or lualatex, without using bibtex.

The hard method to change the style of a thebibliography environment:

  1. Edit each \bibitem manually. It could be a good option if there are only a few references. If thi is not the case, good look ...

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