I've heard (and read) about the new amsrefs system for citations. Is there a good explanation of the pros/cons of amsrefs vis-a-vis bibtex ?

  • If you are an Emacs or Auctex user or lover, then, unfortunately, as of now, Reftex supports BibTeX but not AMSRefs. See tex.stackexchange.com/questions/356481/… Mar 7, 2017 at 5:30
  • I switched to amsrefs some time ago for 2 reasons: (1) you can keep everything in the same file, which makes things like arXiv uploads slightly quicker, and saves the need for extra bibtexing when you keep changing references; (2) my master bibtex file had too many entries by the same authors and I kept forgetting, eg how I labeled 2 different papers by the same author in the same year (possibly in the same journal). I'm sure for many people managing a master bibtex file is easier, but I personally found it to be more of a hassle than amsrefs.
    – Kimball
    Mar 10, 2020 at 4:18
  • With the filecontents package you can keep everything in the same file.
    – retorquere
    Jan 3, 2021 at 22:10

3 Answers 3


I don't think that amsrefs is new, exactly, although updates to it appear to be reasonably recent. I haven't heard of many people using it. The much more recent biblatex package is probably a better way to go — it has a lot of momentum and supports, well, everything you would ever want to do with bibliographies. Some more information can be found in the TeX FAQ:

  • 3
    The advantage of biblatex is that it is designed to work outside of the style of physical science citations, meaning that it has a lot more scope. The biblatex-biber project is also dealing with UTF-8 input for BibTeX files, and trying to come up with a better database structure. So as Will says biblatex has a lot more momentum.
    – Joseph Wright
    Jul 30, 2010 at 5:27
  • 1
    amsrefs isn't exactly new: it was announced (iirc) in 2000. i liked it at the time, but have never used it; it seems not to be a useful option, now, since biblatex appeared. Sep 4, 2014 at 11:23

With bib(la)tex, the following is not correct


you must use an extra pair of {}


See for instance Cite in theorem environment argument

I find this quite annoying. With amsrefs, you write:


PERSONALLY, I prefer the amsrefs way.

It is consistent with the citation label in the text: "[1, p. 100]".

On the other hand, bib(la)tex may be consistent with the way we say it: "page 100 of [1]".


One problem with bib-tex is the need for lots of extra {} to get the formatting of titles correct. I find this, personally, to be quite frustrating, and amsrefs is much nicer in this regard.

  • 2
    This is not intrinsic to BibTeX. It's the particular style you're using. Use one that doesn't change the case. For example, look at plain.bst and in particular the format.title function.
    – TH.
    Sep 17, 2010 at 4:16

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