I write a book. I need to create a list of bibliography. I follow the manual recommendations and don't succeed.

In the part of the declarations I use \usepackage{biblatex}.

Then, I cite some reference as

Abba abba abba \cite{ddd} often dark

\bibitem{ddd} abbbbba    

After the compilations in MikTex 22.7 I get the following warning:

This is pdfTeX, Version 3.141592653-2.6-1.40.24 (MiKTeX 22.7) (preloaded format=pdflatex.fmt)
restricted \write18 enabled.
entering extended mode
LaTeX2e <2022-06-01> patch level 5
L3 programming layer <2022-07-04>
Document Class: book 2021/10/04 v1.4n Standard LaTeX document class
) (C:\Users\i-5\AppData\Local\Programs\MiKTeX\tex/generic/iftex\iftex.sty)
)) (C:\Users\i-5\AppData\Local\Programs\MiKTeX\tex/latex/logreq\logreq.sty
No file untitled-1.aux.
No file untitled-1.bbl.

LaTeX Warning: Citation 'ddd' on page 1 undefined on input line 6.

[1{C:/Users/i-5/AppData/Local/MiKTeX/fonts/map/pdftex/pdftex.map}] [2]
Runaway argument?
{\settowidth \labelwidth {\@biblabel {
! Paragraph ended before \list was complete.
<to be read again> 


What's wrong?

  • Welcome to TeX.SE. Did you run LaTeX twice? Is there a reason for not providing the required argument of \begin{thebibliography}? And, since you appear to want to create the bibliography by hand, why are you loading the biblatex package? What happens if you (a) stop loading the biblatex package, (b) change \begin{thebibliography} to \begin{thebibliography}{n}, where n is an integer such as 9 or 99, and (c) run LaTeX twice?
    – Mico
    Aug 6 at 6:07
  • It seems that you are mixing methods withouth a clear idea of how each work. See here to undestand the differente methods through simple examples.
    – Fran
    Aug 6 at 10:07

1 Answer 1


You've provided some code snippets and a lengthy excerpt from the log file, but not a compilable test document that begins with \documentclass and ends with \end{document}. You mention that you "follow the manual recommendations". However, since you don't tell us which manuals you consulted -- some random blogger's YouTube posting, maybe? -- it is pointless to speculate about which manual may have led you astray.

I've had to make some educated guesses as to what you're actually doing. For the sake of argument, let's consider the following test document, which I believe captures most of the relevant elements of a usable test document:



Abba abba abba \cite{ddd} often dark

\bibitem{ddd} abbbbba    


Reassuringly, compiling this test document under pdfLaTeX generates the following "LaTeX Warning" message:

LaTeX Warning: Citation `ddd' on page 1 undefined on input line 6.

which is identical to what's reported in your log file, viz.,

LaTeX Warning: Citation 'ddd' on page 1 undefined on input line 6.

So, what is going on? I'd say that there are at least two, separate problems.

  • First, if you intend to create the bibliography by hand, i.e., by providing a thebibliography environment that contains various \bibitem directives, you should under no circumstance load the biblatex package. Instead, what you do need to do is (a) stop loading the biblatex package and (b) provide the required argument of the thebibliography environment. This argument should be an integer, whose value you may choose as follows: if the bibliography contains fewer than 10 entries, use 9 as the argument; if there more than 9 but fewer than 100 entries, use 99 as the argument; etc.

    Sure enough, if I change the test document to

    Abba abba abba \cite{ddd} often dark
    \bibitem{ddd} abbbbba   

    the document compiles fine, a numeric-style citation call-out is generated by \cite{ddd}, and the Bibliography chapter (located at the back of the pdf file) shows a single entry that says abbbbba. Obviously, more realism will be needed in the real document.

  • Second, the very fact that you load the biblatex package strongly suggests that you do not actually intend to create the bibliography by hand.

    If that is indeed the case, do get rid of the entire thebibliography environment, and do please take the time to learn the basics of how to create a bibliography for a LaTeX document using software tools. Depending on your formatting and citation needs, you may be ok pursuing the older BibTeX approach, or you may find it advantageous to employ the considerably newer -- and far more powerful and versatile -- biblatex/biber approach. Both approaches share a lot of similarities, but also differ in important aspects. What's "best" for you depends on your specific formatting needs -- about which you've told us nothing so far.

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