FAQs and Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I use bibmanager? I have already my working ecosystem.

bibmanager simply makes your life easier, keeping all of your references at the tip of your fingers:

  • No need to wonder whether to start a new BibTeX file from scratch or reuse an old one (probably a massive file), nor to think which was the most current.
  • Easily add new entries: manually, from your existing BibTeX files, or from ADS, without risking having duplicates.
  • Generate BibTeX files and compile a LaTeX project with a single command.
  • You can stay up to date with ADS with a single command.

I use several machines to work, can I use a single database across all of them?

Yes!, since vesion 1.2 bibmanager has a home config parameter which sets the location of the database. By default home points at ~/.bibmanager; however, you can set the home parameter into a folder in a Dropbox-type of system. The only nuance is that you’ll need to install and configure bibmanager in each machine, but now all of them will be pointing to the same database.

Note that the folder containing the associated PDF files (i.e., home/pdf) will also be moved into the new location.


I compiled my LaTeX file before merging its bibfile, did I just overwite my own BibTeX file?

No, if bibmanager has to overwrite a bibfile edited by the user (say, ‘myrefs.bib’), it saves the old file (and date) as ‘orig_yyyy-mm-dd_myrefs.bib’.


I meged the BibTeX file for my LaTeX project, but it says there are missing references when I compile. What’s going on?

Probably, there were duplicate entries with previous entries in the bibmanager database, but they had different keys. Simply, do a search of your missing reference, to check it’s key, something like:

# Surely, first author and year have not changed:
bibm search
author:"^Author" year:the_year

Now, you can update the key in the LaTeX file (and as a bonus, you wont run into having duplicate entries in the future).


I installed bibmanager while being in a virtual environment. But I don’t want to start the virtual env every time I want to use bibm.

(This is not a question!, please state your FAQ in the form of a question) Anyway, no worries, the bibm executable entry point is safe to use even if you are not in the virtual environment. What you can do is to add the path to the entry point into your bash:

# first, search for the entry-point executable (while in the virtual environment):
which bibm

/home/username/py36/bin/bibm

Then, add an alias with that path into your bash, e.g.: alias bibm='/home/username/py36/bin/bibm'. Now, you can access bibm at any time.


A unique database? Does it mean I need to have better keys to differentiate my entries?

Certainly, as a database grows, short BibTeX keys like ‘LastnameYYYY’ are sub-optimal, since they may conflict with other entries, and are not descriptive enough. A good practice is to adopt a longer, more descriptive format. I personally suggests this one:

Authors Format Example
1 LastYYYYjournalDescription Shapley1918apjDistanceGClusters
2 Last1Last2YYYYjournalDescription PerezGranger2007cseIPython
3 LastEtalYYYYjournalDescription AstropycollabEtal2013aaAstropy

That is:

  • the first-author last name (capitalized)
  • either nothing, the second-author last name (capitalized), or ‘Etal’
  • the publication year
  • the journal initials if any (and lower-cased)
  • a couple words from the title that describe the article (capitalized or best format at user’s discretion).

These long keys will keep you from running into issues, and will make the citations in your LaTeX documents nearly unambiguous at sight.


The code breaks with UnicodeEncodeError when running over ssh. What’s going on?

As correctly guessed in this Stack Overflow post, Python cannot determine the terminal encoding, and falls back to ASCII. You can fix this by setting the following environment variable, e.g., into your bash:

export PYTHONIOENCODING=utf-8