LaTeX forum ⇒ BibTeX, biblatex and biberConvert Bibliography Item to BibTeX Format

Information and discussion about BiBTeX - the bibliography tool for LaTeX documents.
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Convert Bibliography Item to BibTeX Format

Postby CDbile » Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:34 pm

Hello all,

I'd like to know if there is some tool (script/program/package/whatever) to convert a raw bibliography in LaTeX (with \bibitem entries) to a more usable BibTeX format?

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Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 5:02 pm

Postby kaiserkarl13 » Sat Feb 04, 2012 8:05 am

That's actually a pretty difficult thing to tell a computer how to do---it's essentially a BibTeX decompiler (or de-interpreter, as it were). Here's why: Let's say I have an entry like this:
2. Smith, H. Francis. The Worst Ever. J. Stupid Sayings 36 (1-2): 1-8 (2013).
This could, to a computer, be interpreted in the following two ways:
  author = "Smith, H. Francis",
  title = "The Worst Ever",
  journal = "J. Stupid Sayings",
  volume = 36,
  number = "1--2",
  pages = "1--8",
  year = 2013

  author = "Smith, H.",
  title = "Francis",
  journal = "The Worst Ever. J. Stupid Sayings",
  volume = 36,
  number = "1--2",
  pages = "1--8",
  year = 2013

Also, the translation depends on your bibliography style, and there are hundreds of different styles if you only include the ones that don't include information you're not expecting.

You are well-advised to edit them manually. I know it takes a long time, but you're going to have to edit them anyway to make sure the computer didn't do something like the above, so you won't lose that much time. For a very simple bibliography (e.g., a properly formatted bibliography with consistent information presented about every entry and all entries of the same type, such as article), you might be able to write a script to do most of the work for you. However, even the "automatic" export programs such as those found on Web of Science do a pretty mediocre job of exporting BibTeX entries---the journal names are often in all caps, for example, forcing you to edit them and change the case.

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