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For more articles related to library systems, see the Library related category. Some of the main articles:
This article/section is a stub — probably a pile of half-sorted notes, is not well-checked so may have incorrect bits. (Feel free to ignore, fix, or tell me)

Citation styles

This article/section is a stub — probably a pile of half-sorted notes, is not well-checked so may have incorrect bits. (Feel free to ignore, fix, or tell me)

The most common citation styles seem to mostly be:

  • Turabian - slightly modified version of Chicago, designed for field-independent use. Most references handle Chicago and Turabian as more or less the same thing, so see above.
  • Harvard
  • AMA (American Medical Association); seen in medicine, health, biology

See also:

Citation management

Personal management

Online, free

Offline, free

  • BibTeX (doing the work yourself, or perhaps using something like Lyx)
  • JabRef (Bibtex editor/tool)

Online, paid-for:

  • RefWorks (can be posted to in various ways, use import filters, import BibTex, RefMan files)

Offline, paid-for:


Search and such

  • Academic Federated search

Bibliographic file formats


(see various resources out there)

Note that text outside @thing{ data } is ignored, so you can put any notes, disclaimers and such outside these units of citation data.


A project that figures BibTeX might be useful serialized in XML.

See also:

RIS (Reference Manager)

Reference Manager's RIS format is a fairly simple tag-delimited list of variable-value pairs, one per line.

It looks like MEDLINE-type citations use a relatively simple variation on this.

Other software, such as ProCite, can often also read it.


  • The variables are named tags, the whole thing is a field. For example, in
    JO - Nature
    the tag is JO.
  • Each item starts with TY (type) field and ends with ER field (end record).
  • Fields within in a record can be in any order, and various may appear multiple times.
  • A field starts with six characters, including three spaces. In glob/regexp style: [A-Z][A-Z0-9][ ][ ][-][ ].
I've seen "Here's a RIS file as text" on a web page fail due to HTML squeezing multiple spaced to one
  • You may (but don't seem to be required to) split long values onto multiple lines. (if you do, beware of text containing a tag pattern)
  • The mention of CRLF (0x0D 0x0A) suggests some programs may depend on this specific sequence.
  • The fields should be in "the IBM Extended Character Set." Going by name, this seems to be this and this, which seems to be code page 437 (wikipedia page). This is my working assumption. (Note that various characters will be destroyed by this conversion, but since this a codepage, that is unavoidable)
  • The asterisk (*) is not allowed in some fields, so you may wish to structurally remove (or replace) it to be safe.

Other format notes:

  • Author: "Last, First Middle Suffix", initials where you have no better, with middle and suffix obviously optional, and suffixes being things like Jr., Sr., III, MD and such
  • Date
    • in fields like Y1 and Y2: YYYY/MM/DD/other info. Each value is optional, the slashes are not. For example, "autumn 1980" should be "1980///autumn".
    • fields like PB seems to use the US date style, MM/DD/YY (verify)

There are some fields that vary in meaning according to type. For example, BT maps to T1 for entry types 'Whole Book' and 'Unpublished Work', and to T2 for everything else. (verify)

There are also fields that seem synonymous, such as AU with A1, and ED with A2, PY with Y1, AB with N2, and a few more.

Small example

AU  - Smith,J.
BT  - Monkeys And Such
KW  - monkeys
ER  -

Interesting tags

Probably the most interesting among the tags, roughly grouped by type:

  • T1: Title, primary
  • A1: Primary author / One of set of authors
  • JO or JF: Periodical's name
  • JA: Abbreviated periodical's name
  • SN: ISSN or ISBN
  • Y1: Date, primary
  • VL: Volume number
  • IS: Issue
  • SP: Start page
  • EP: End page
  • CY or CP: City of publication
  • PB: Publisher
  • KW: Single keyword (up to 255 characters)
  • N1: Summary((verify)?)
  • N2 or AB: Abstract
  • M1, M2, M3: Miscellaneous, used e.g. for ISSN, dewey classification
  • U1, U2, U3, U4, U5: User definable.
  • UR: URL
  • L1: Link to PDF
  • L2: Link to full text
  • L3: Related records
  • L4: Images
  • T2: Subtitle ('Title, secondary')
  • T3: Series title
  • A2: Author, secondary

Most interesting reference types

TY specifies the type of reference, and the set of tags you can/should use varies slightly with it. In the context of this system, the most interesting seem to be:

  • JOUR: Journal
  • MGZN: Magazine article
  • JFULL: Journal (full)
  • BOOK: Book, Whole
  • SER: Serial (Book, Monograph)
  • RPRT: Report
  • THES: Thesis/Dissertation
  • UNPB: Unpublished work
  • GEN: Generic

There are about 25 more, see e.g.


This article/section is a stub — probably a pile of half-sorted notes, is not well-checked so may have incorrect bits. (Feel free to ignore, fix, or tell me)

In its installation, EndNote uses *.enl libraries, with a corresponding *.data folder (containing MySQL tables(verify)).

There are various related formats, including:

  • .enf: filters. Record providers can give .enf files to specify how their plain-text citations should be parsed(verify). This is probably not the easiest/most convenient way to provide this to users.

Endnote also defines an 'Endnote Import' / 'Endnote Export' format, which is self-contained and easy to produce, so is probably the easiest way to have 'export to endnote' functionality.

It is based strongly on the Refer format, so see the next section for the details.

To offer direct transfer to endnote, you probably want to know that:

  • MIME type: application/x-endnote-refer (should make browser open it with endnote)
  • file extension: .enw (in case someone saves it and then clicks it)


From the command-line unix utility refer (now not in much use), sometimes used in combination with (g)roff.


  • Start each tag with percent, a one-character type, and a space, e.g.
    %D 1992
  • contents may contain linebreaks (verify)
  • split multiple records with two or more empty lines (use CRLF style newlines)
  • Readers should ignore empty fields (verify)
  • There seems to be no text encoding defined, but people probably usually use ISO-8859-1 (Latin1)

On fields:

  • Standard: A, B, C, D, E, G, I, J, K, L, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, V, X, more?(verify)
  • Non-standard: F, M, l, U, W, Y, Z, *, $, more(verify)
  • To (verify): 0, H, G, R, more
  • Fields like authors (A, E) should be repeated if there is more than one.
  • The intended formatting of some fields is regularly violated, sometimes structurally (by programs like Endnote)

Core use is probably roughly:

  • %0
    (a zero) Type of record, values including Journal Article, Book, and others (see references)
  • %T
    Title (of book, article, etc.)
  • %D
    Date (often just the year)
  • %A
    Author, apparently preferable in First Last (non-reversed) order
  • %J
    journal name
  • %V
  • %N
    journal issue number
  • %P
    Page number/range
  • %I
    Publisher/issuer (usually paired with %C)
  • %C
    City of publication.
  • %Q
    Corporate author (author if author is not a person)
  • %B
    Title of a book that the article is part of
  • %E
    Editor of a book that the article is part of
  • %S
    Series name
  • %K
    Keywords; Keywords
  • %U
    URL, email address
  • %X
    Annotation (brief abstract, but note that some programs ignore this)
  • %@
    regularly used for ISBN, ISSN

Also seen:

  • %G
    Government order number (sometimes used for ISBN, ISSN?(verify))
  • %L
    (Unique) label, used only be some programs
  • %H
    header commentary (doesn't seem useful)
  • %O
    Other/footer commentary (e.g. mention of appearances, citations)
  • %Z
    Notes (ignored by some programs)
  • %W
    physical location (of book, of conference, etc.)
  • %U
    annotation (instead of URL)
  • %F
    Caption, footnote number (seems too vague to be useful)
  • %Y
    Table of Contents
  • %l
    content language
  • %G
    US Government ordering number
  • %M
    Mathematical Reviews number (or sometimes month)
  • %G
    US Government ordering number.
  • %R
    technical report number, `unpublished MSc Thesis', and various other uses (e.g. DOI)
  • %*
    copyright information
  • %$
  • ...and various others

See also:

Related notes

Zotero (aug 2010) does not like author fields to be empty (in refer nor RIS). It will report "Could not save item" and refer to possible translator problems. To work around this you should make your automatic generation of these things omit this field if the value would be empty.


  • DC XML
  • COiNS
  • BibTeXML
  • Reference Manager XML
  • Endnote XML
  • RDF
  • CSV
  • Tab-delimited

And many, many narrow-use formats used by individual article providers. Citation management software often supports a subset of them individually, although this seems to be a fairly chaotic approach.

See also