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BibTeX files are typically manually maintained and thus often contain inconsistencies, mistakes, or are missing information. betterbib helps maintaining your BibTeX files by comparing them with online sources and correcting whatever entries are found faulty.

Simply run

betterbib in.bib out.bib

to improve your BibTeX file with default settings. For example, the input BibTeX

@article {krylov,
  author = {Liesen and Gaul and Nabben},
  title = {Framework Deflation Krylov Augmented}

is converted to

 author = {Gaul, André and Gutknecht, Martin H. and Liesen, Jörg and Nabben, Reinhard},
 title = {A Framework for Deflated and Augmented {Krylov} Subspace Methods},
 doi = {10.1137/110820713},
 number = {2},
 pages = {495-518},
 source = {Crossref},
 url = {},
 volume = {34},
 journal = {SIAM J. Matrix Anal. \& Appl.},
 publisher = {Society for Industrial \& Applied Mathematics (SIAM)},
 issn = {0895-4798, 1095-7162},
 year = {2013},
 month = jan,


All of the following tools can read from standard input and write to standard output, so you can concatenate them to get exactly what you want. For example, the above betterbib command is equivalent to

betterbib-sync in.bib | betterbib-journal-abbrev | betterbib-format -b - out.bib


betterbib fetches data from

All betterbib-sync command-line options are explained in betterbib-sync -h.


The tool

betterbib-format in.bib out.bib

allows you to apply consistent formatting to you BibTeX file. See -h/--help for options.

(Un)abbreviate journal names

The tool

betterbib-journal-abbrev in.bib out.bib

allows you to apply consistent abbreviation of journal names. See -h/--help for options.

Custom journal abbreviations

To use custom abbrebiations for journal names, create a file as a JSON dictionary, and provide that as a command line argument with --extra-abbrev-file. For example, if the file correct_pnas.json is:

{"PNAS": "Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.  U.S.A."}

and you call betterbib-journal-abbrev --extra-abbrev-file=correct_pnas.json, this will replace any bibtex entries listed with journal "PNAS" with the correct abbreviation.

This option is included in the betterbib and betterbib-journal-abbrev commands.

When combined with the --long-journal-names option, this will override default options only if both have the same abbreviation.


In BibTeX titles, some words need to be protected by curly brackets such that they are capitalized correctly, e.g., {Einstein}. betterbib automatically recognizes some of them (if they are in the default dictionary, like Einstein), but you might want to add some. To this end, create the config file


and fill it with, e.g.,




betterbib is available from the Python Package Index, so simply do

pip3 install betterbib --user

to install.


To run the betterbib unit tests, check out this repository and type



betterbib is published under the MIT license.

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