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Reference management with BibTeX, when using Quarto -- A short guide

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Quarto is an excellent tool for producing reproducible reports, papers, and presentations, among other things. One of the features that distinguishes Quarto is its ability to integrate with other tools and software. BibTeX, a reference management system for LaTeX documents, is one such tool. BibTeX makes it simple to cite sources and create a bibliography in your document.

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Step 1: Create a .bib-file and create some entries.

As in the previous section, we begin by creating a.bib-file called ‘bibliography.bib,’ which is then filled with BibTeX entries. BibTeX entries are built in the following format and contain enough information for citation and bibliography inclusion for each literature source (book, essay, etc.).

We use the example from the previous section and quote the book “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway. The result is as follows:

title={The Old Man and the Sea},
author={Hemingway, Ernest},
publisher={Charles Scribner's Sons}

Again, we dissect this entry’s “anatomy,” focusing on three components to understand how each BibTeX entry is defined:

  • Entry-type: with @book we define the type according to the schema @type of the reference. Possible are @article for scientific articles and others. BibTeX likes to specify which fields are optional and which are required to indicate them correctly in the literature.
  • Entry fields: in this case of our @book example, these are title, author, year and publisher. (Cf. fields)
  • citation-key: in our example, it is Hemingway1952 and is used to indicate an in-text citation in LaTeX, i.e., to refer to the source. in Quarto we do this with [@Hemingway1952]. The citation key can be any string - often a combination of author, year, and a word from the title.

Step 2: Create a Quarto document and connect

It is very simple to integrate BibTeX with Quarto. Simply specify the bib-file with ‘bibliography: bibliography.bib’ in YAML and the citation with ’[@Hemingway1952]’ at the location where you want the in-text citation to appear.

title: "BibTeX references in Quarto"
author: "John Doe"
date: '2022-07-19'
bibliography: bibliography.bib
output: html_document
## BibTeX references in Quarto
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.
Praesent enim urna, dapibus et bibendum vel, consectetur et turpis.
Cras a molestie nulla. [@Hemingway1952]

Reference managers

Manually formatting BibTeX files can be time-consuming, which is why it is generally recommended to use a reference manager. Here are a few that are ideal for this: