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Amsart Bibliography Examples

The following is an e-mail that I sent to all the math grad students at UCSD explaining how to use BibTeX for their bibliographies.

by Skip Garibaldi (skip@member.ams.org)
Original 9 Apr 1998
Revised 17 Feb 1999
Webified 6 Oct 1999

It has come to my attention that many of you are doing your bibliographies for your papers by hand. If you are going to do that, you might as well go all the way and just write your papers in cuneiform on clay tablets. You should definitely be using BibTeX to do it, at least if you are using LaTeX. (Of course, if you aren't using LaTeX or AMS-LaTeX to write your papers, you are beyond hope... But allow me to point out that you will have a much easier time with your thesis if you use LaTeX.)

So, here's the deal. You create a bibliography database which contains the data for your various sources. Then BibTeX will look at your document (actually at auxiliary files produced by LaTeX) and create a bibliography which includes precisely those sources that you cite. And it does so in the right format.


  1. It is less tedious and less error-prone than producing a bibliography by hand.
  2. If your paper gets accepted by a journal which wants a very particular style to its bibliography, all you have to do is switch one line (the "bibliographystyle" line) in your document, not retype the whole bibliography.
  3. When you write other papers, you don't have to do any cutting and pasting to bring in bibliographic data from old papers. You just add new references to your bibliographic database.
  4. You never have to type in any bibiliographic data by hand, since one can get it all in the appropriate format for BibTeX from MathSciNet.


  1. You will no longer look like someone who desparately needs help, so you will get less pity from your associates. And, since you are doing your bibliographies by hand now, you probably get quite a bit.

Here's is a sample LaTeX file.

\documentclass[12pt]{amsart} \begin{document} \bibliographystyle{alpha} \bibliography{foo} \end{document}

Where is your bibliographic database. If you have more than one, you can use this sort of line:

\bibliography{foo,bar,quux} if your files are , , and . DO NOT LEAVE SPACES BETWEEN THE COMMA AND THE NEXT FILE NAME.

Here is a sample file:

@book{Borel, AUTHOR = "A. Borel", TITLE = {Linear Algebraic Groups}, publisher = {Springer}, address = {New York}, edition = {second}, year = 1991 } @article{BoTi:C, author = {A. Borel and J. Tits}, title = {Compl\'{e}ments \`{a} l'article: Groupes R\'{e}ductifs}, journal = {Pub. Math. IHES}, volume = {41}, pages = {253--276}, year = {1972} } @unpublished{ChP, author = "V.I. Chernousov and V.P. Platonov", title = {The rationality problem for semisimple group varieties}, note = "Preprint 97-037, Bielefeld" } @techreport{C:S, author = {C. Chevalley}, title = {Classification des Groupes de {L}ie Alg\'ebriques}, type = {S\'eminaire C. Chevalley, 1956--1958}, institution = {Ecole Normale Sup\'erieure}, year = 1958 } @book{Hum, author = {J. Humphreys}, title = {Linear algebraic groups}, publisher = {Springer}, series = {Graduate Texts in Mathematics}, edition = {second}, year = 1981, volume = 21 } @techreport{M:LLN, author = {A.S. Merkurjev}, title = {Involutions and Algebraic Groups}, institution = {Universit\'e Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium}, year = 1993, type = {Recherches de Math\'ematique}, number = 36, } @incollection {Sp:RG, AUTHOR = {Springer, T. A.}, TITLE = {Reductive groups}, BOOKTITLE = {Automorphic forms, representations and {$L$}-functions (Proc. Sympos. Pure Math., Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, Ore., 1977), Part 1}, PAGES = {3--27}, PUBLISHER = {Amer. Math. Soc.}, ADDRESS = {Providence, R.I.}, YEAR = {1979}, }

You should never have to type in this data by hand. You can download it off of MathSciNet. For example, to get the data on the article by Springer, I would search for an article by "Springer, T*" with title "Reductive groups", then in the list of retrieved articles I would mark the right article (by clicking on the button just to its left). Then you can tell MathSciNet to retrieve "Citations (BibTeX)". Then MathSciNet will give you the BibTeX for the article, which in this case looks like

@incollection {MR80h:20062, AUTHOR = {Springer, T. A.}, TITLE = {Reductive groups}, BOOKTITLE = {Automorphic forms, representations and $L$-functions (Proc. Sympos. Pure Math., Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, Ore., 1977), Part 1}, PAGES = {3--27}, PUBLISHER = {Amer. Math. Soc.}, ADDRESS = {Providence, R.I.}, YEAR = {1979}, } As you can see, I only changed two things, the key. (Sp:RG is much easier to remember than MR80h:20062. I should also remark that the : in the keys is just treated by BibTeX as another character. I happen to like using it in my references, but that's just my taste.) Also, without the braces around the 'L', BibTeX will automatically lowercase it, which is inappropriate here.

To refer to the piece by Chernousov and Platonov, one would use

\cite{ChP} in your document. Suppose you don't explicitly cite Chevalley's preprint in your paper, but would like it to appear in your bibliography. Add the line \nocite{C:S} to your document.

BTW, if your LaTeX document was called , then to compile it you would have to type:

latex paper bibtex paper latex paper latex paper The second time you run LaTeX, the bibliography will be right, and the third time you run it, the citations in the text will be right. Don't worry. LaTeX is smart enough to tell you if it needs to be run again.

Please see "The LaTeX Companion" or any decent LaTeX reference book for more information on BibTeX and various style files, etc. Many style files are available from CTAN in the directory.

Isn't technology cool?

LaTeX Tips: Top Ten Tips for Bibliographies

All but the first of the tips below apply to the bibtex method of generating bibliographies. For more details, and for additional tips, see the main Bibliographies Tips page.
  1. Mandatory argument to "thebibliography". The "thebibliography" environment has a mandatory argument, representing the width of the widest label.
    Example: .
    Leaving out this argument causes an error with the rather vague error message "Something's wrong--perhaps a missing \item".
  2. Before running bibtex, run the tex file through latex. The bibtex program needs the "auxiliary" file (with extension ) that is produced by latex.
  3. The bibtex program must be run on the auxiliary file of the paper, not the bibtex database. This is a common source of confusion for beginners. If tex and bibtex files for a paper have the same names, say and , things are simple: the command , where the filename is specified without extension, will do the right thing. However, it is important to understand that the file that is processed by bibtex is not the bibtex file, , but rather the auxiliary file that is generated after the first run through latex. Thus, in the above command the short-hand argument is expanded to . This becomes significant if the bibtex database has a name that is different from the name of the tex file. For example, if the bibtex database is , the appropriate bibtex command is , not , since bibtex needs the file , not the (probably non-existing) file .
  4. Capitalized words in titles. Words in titles that are to be capitalized (such as proper names) must be protected by placing the first (upper case) letter in braces.
    Example: .
    Note that this applies only to title fields ( and ). In other fields, such as journal names, no lower case conversion is done, so there is no need to protect capitalized words.
  5. Multiple authors. Separate the names of the authors by the conjunction "and", without additional punctuation marks.
  6. Nonstandard author names. For names of authors not in the standard "first last" or first middle last" format, the part representing the last name has to be explicitly marked by surrounding it with braces to ensure that the entry gets correctly alphabetized.
    Example: .
  7. Accented characters. Accented characters must be surrounded by braces.
    Example: .
  8. Overriding the default sort order. Bibtex normally does a good job in arranging references in the appropriate order (alphabetically by author, then chronologically); however, unpublished items that do not have a year listed may get placed before items by the same author published earlier. To prevent this and instead have the unpublished work be listed last, add an "invisible" year entry in the record as follows: . Similar tricks allow one to override other undesirable orderings.
  9. Including references that are not cited in the paper. Bibtex builds the bibliography from the references that are actually cited in the paper. Including references without corresponding citations is generally a bad idea, but it may be warranted in special situations. To include a reference that is not cited in the paper, but which has a record in the bibtex database, add the command at the end of the paper, just before the bibliography; here "xxx" is the key for the paper to be cited. The command causes all items in the database to be included in the references, regardless of whether or not they are cited in the paper.
  10. Printing out a bibtex database. To print out all records in a bibtex database, say , create and compile a dummy tex file containing the following commands:

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Last modified: Thu 09 Jul 2009 02:24:23 PM CDT A.J. Hildebrand

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