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Chapter 13. Bibliography Generation > 13.2. The BibTeX database format

13.2. The BibTeX database format

A BibTeX database is a plain text (ASCII) file that contains bibliographical entries internally structured as keyword/value pairs. A typical database file was shown in Figure 12.2 on page 690. In this section we study the allowed syntax of its entries in some detail; see also [135].

Each entry in a BibTeX database consists of three main parts: a type specifier, followed by a key, and finally the data for the entry itself. The type describes the general nature of the entry (e.g., whether it is an article, book, or some other publication). The key is used in the interface to LaTeX; it is the string that you have to place in the argument of a \cite command when referencing that particular entry. The data part consists of a series of field entries (depending on the type), which can have one of two forms as seen in the following generic format and example:


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