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What is BibTeX Entry Mode?

I’ve long relied on a simple (though now quite huge) BibTeX file to organize my collection of books and papers.

When I add an entry to this file I’ll do it in Emacs. Often I can copy and paste a BibTeX entry if one is provided when I download the document corresponding to the entry.

Most of the time, however, a BibTeX entry isn’t provided or, if it is, it isn’t of the quality I demand in my database. So I wind up manually inserting a lot of the information myself.

I wrote BibTeX entry mode to make this as easy as possible for me.




bibtex-entry-mode is complementary to bibtex-mode so the first step is to open a .bib file in bibtex-mode.

Either start a new entry using bibtex-mode’s provided bibtex-Article-type helper methods or move point to an existing entry.

Now invoke the command bibtex-entry-mode-for-file. You’ll be prompted for a file on disk to open in bibtex-entry-mode.

You may want to add the following snippet somewhere in your ~/.emacs file to bind this function to a key:

(define-key bibtex-mode-map "\C-c\C-e" 'bibtex/dhruv-ready-source-for-filing)

The file will be rendered to text in a temporary Emacs buffer. and you’ll have all the real details of authors’ names, title, &c. available to you, exactly as they are in the original source.

You can now use commands defined by bibtex-entry-mode to enter information from this buffer directly into the BibTeX entry. C-c C-a, for example, is bound to bibtex-entry-mode-set-author. Invoking this command will prompt you for a string containing the authors’ names.

  1. If you had a region selected when you invoked the command, then the content of the region will be the default choice.
  2. If no region was selected, then the content of the word at point will be the default choice.

Similar commands exist for other common fields in BibTeX entries like title, month, year, volume, number, pages, &c.

Journal Abbreviations


Journal Abbreviation Resources on the Web