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Overleaf - LaTeX: Bibliographies and Citing

Bibliographies in LaTeX

In order to cite references, you first need to create a separate bibliography file ending with a .bib extension within your LaTeX project. You can do that by clicking on the New File icon on the upper-left corner of the screen.

Then, enter your file name. Note that the default file extension in LaTeX is .tex. Your bibliography file must end in .bib. Once you create your file, you can add references to it in the BibTeX format.

Exporting references from ProQuest RefWorks

If you use RefWorks to manage your references, you can export your references from RefWorks into the BibTeX format. To export your references from RefWorks, click on the Share tab. Then, click on Export References and select the BibTeX option. You can import the references you exported from RefWorks into LaTeX as a .bib file.

To learn more about RefWorks, visit the RefWorks e-course module.

Exporting references from a database or Google Scholar

The easiest way to add references to your .bib file, other than exporting them from RefWorks, is to import or copy them directly from Google Scholar or from a database. To cite from Google Scholar, click on the cite icon underneath the article, which is represented with a quotation sign. Select the option BibTeX at the bottom of the pop-up screen. You will be directed to another page where you can copy the reference in the BibTeX format. Make sure to check that the relevant fields are entered correctly before copying the reference into your .bib file.

Note that Google Scholar does not include a DOI, which is often needed as part of your reference.

Some databases also provide the option to export a reference in the BibTeX format. The way to export a reference from a database can vary depending on the database being used.

Note: Not all databases allow you to export citation information in the BibTeX format. To work around this, use RefWorks to manage your references which you can then export in the BibTeX format. 

Entering references manually

When entering a reference to BibTeX, the fields that are required to be filled in for each citation will vary depending on the type of the work you are citing. The reference type is specified by using the @ symbol followed by the type. Regardless of the reference type, the first field to be entered in the reference is the label that you want to give to a particular reference. You will later be able to use this label to cite the reference in the main text of the document.

Below is an example of the fields you are required to enter for articles.

  title={Morphosyntactic learning and the development of tense},
  author={Jones, Julia Anna and Smith, Charlotte},
  journal={Language Acquisition},
  publisher={Taylor \& Francis}

Here's another example illustrating the fields required for a Ph.D. thesis.

  title={Knowledge and learning in natural language},
  author={Smith, Charlotte},
  school={Massachusetts Institute of Technology}

Visit the page on standard templates for BibTeX to see how other types of works can be included.

Citing in LaTeX

To begin citing sources within your LaTeX document, you can use the biblatex package. Add \usepackage{biblatex} to your preamble. Note that there are other packages that you could use for this, including the natbib package, which is also a popular option.

There are a number of specifications you can enter to the \usepackage{biblatex} command. The first specification you should add within the square brackets of the command is backend = biber. Biber provides the relevant information needed to implement the biblatex package.


You can also specify the style of your bibliography by using the style parameter. For instance, style=authoryear will print your references in the author-year format. Another common variant is style=authoryear-comp, which will only print the author's last name once, and not for the subsequent references. Visit the page on biblatex's citation styles for a full list.

Using biblatex, you can also determine what criteria should be used to sort your bibliography by specifying the sorting parameter. For instance, sorting=nyt will sort your bibliography by name, title, and year. The end result of specifying these parameters may look something like this:


To be able to cite the references from your bibliography, you will need to implement a command mapping your BibTeX file to your document. To do that, you can use the \addbibresource{..} command and add your file name in between the curly brackets.


There are many options to call and format your in-text citations in LaTeX. Below is a list of common commands you can use with the corresponding output. For instance, the command \parencite{JonesandSmith1997} will result in (Jones and Smith 1997) in the pdf.  


Jones and Smith 1997


(Jones and Smith 1997)


Jones and Smith (1997)


Jones and Smith

\parencite*{..} (1997)


Adding the \printbibliography command at the end of the document will instruct LaTeX to print your references.