I need to write an introduction to a topic which relies heavily on several University lecture slides and scripts. I would like to acknowledge this by using something like this:

The following exposé is based on the lectures by \citet{A, B, C} and on \citep{X, Y}.

But the question is, how do I cite them properly? In particular, what is the right BibTeX category? Is the following the only way? I would like to use something as unspecific as misc as little as possible.

  Author = {Ridcully, Mustrum},
  Institution = {Unseen University},
  Howpublished = {University Lecture},
  Year = {2000},
  Title = {An Introduction to Crossbow Hunting}

3 Answers 3


Quoting from the biblatex documentation, section 2.1.1:

unpublished: A work with an author and a title which has not been formally published, such as a manuscript or the script of a talk.

Thus, you could use unpublished instead of misc.

I see, however, a general problem in referring to something that has not been published: the reader has no possibility to check what you are referring to, which is, in my humble opinion, the whole point in making references.

  • 7
    if the lecture notes are available online, there's always the howpublished or url entry lines...
    – Seamus
    Nov 19, 2010 at 15:12
  • 41
    It’s not the whole point. Another important function of references is to distinguish own contributions from prior art, and to acknowledge it. Apart from that, every claim requires a source, whether the reader can personally check it or not. “personal communication” is in fact a valid reference (although certainly not as valuable as a published, peer-reviewed paper, and there seems to be debate whether this belongs in the list of references). Apart from that, the lecture material in question is actually published on the web, and I will hyperlink to it. Nov 19, 2010 at 15:15
  • @Konrad: Don't forget to include the date with your hyperlink. In difference from published books and articles, the web is very much not static... Nov 19, 2010 at 15:26
  • 1
    @Konrad If it is published in the web, I would consider it as 'published', however if it is only a lecture I attended I would not. After all it will be my `interpretation' of what I have heard and then I would rather treat it in a footnote.
    – yannisl
    Nov 19, 2010 at 15:29
  • 1
    @Yiannis: fair point. In this particular case, I didn’t actually attend the lectures, I’m using the slides and published notes as the basis of my exposition. – In fact, I believe that misc is the best choice here, after all. But I still like @domwass’ answer. Nov 19, 2010 at 15:35

To address some commentaries on the accepted answer: The university of Canterbury differences in their APA style between retreivable (as in powerpoint slides) and non retrievable lecture notes (as in notes, someone took during lecture), the latter being defined as personal communication.

If retreivable, it depends where to retreive it. If it is published online, I would use the @online or indeed @misc as most answers citing webpages use that. To add the link to the retreivable resource use an url entry and be sure to load for example the hyperref package. If it is published elsewhere, you cite that source (@book etc.).

For the case of notes taken by yourself or not taken at all, it falls under the category of personal communication and you have to decide wether to include the reference in the bibliography at all (the link supposes not to) or rather use inline citation. Further reading for personal communication from the APA blog here.

  • You should explain a bit more what your point is. The OP asks about how to avoid misc and url is just a field, so not applicable for him.
    – TeXnician
    Apr 6, 2017 at 9:10
  • Updated to specifically address the different cases.
    – Dschoni
    Apr 6, 2017 at 9:26
  • 1
    To me, declaring lecture notes taken by an audience member as being personal communication with the lecturer is misleading. It's not personal communication as the lecturer may have no idea who they are talking to and be unable to confirm that they did communicate this to the note-taker, nor is there a guarantee that the note-taker has correctly transcribed the lecturers comments. Much better practice would be to contact the academic directly to get them to confirm the relevant statement (or provide a proper reference) and reference this communication in the absence of a published reference.
    – Dai Bowen
    Apr 6, 2017 at 10:11
  • Well to me it feels the same, but this is how my university (Technische Universität München) handles it and all others I found with a quick overview search.
    – Dschoni
    Apr 6, 2017 at 13:51

For me, I often use something like this. We need the URL (howpublished) to the slides, and the note to indicate the last access.

  author={Joe and John},
  title = {Title of the slides},
  howpublished = {\url{https://www.abc.xyz/the_slides.pdf}},
  year = {2018},
  note = {Accessed: {2020–11-06}}

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