This page is old, and the information within is probably outdated. This page was created to assist some personnel in our department in getting started with BibTeX and JabRef. Use at your own risk. Joshua Taylor, August 22, 2008.

Getting Started With JabRef

First, download the JabRef Installer. When JabRef is installed, it can launch automatically. If the proper Java Runtime system is not installed, you will be prompted to install it. Install the Java Runtime, and relaunch JabRef.

When you launch JabRef, you'll see the following empty window:

You can create a new database by pressing the leftmost button, shown in the following image, or you can select File : New Database.

Once you've created a database, you need to add BibTeX entries for individual documents. The BibTeX entry records the bibliographic information for each document (e.g., papers, articles, books). New BibTeX entries can be created by pressing the + button, shown in the image, or by selecting BibTeX : New Entry.

BibTeX understands many different document types. Select the most appropriate type for the document at hand. In this example, we'll make an entry for "How To Remain Anonymous", a journal article by John and Jane Doe. So, we select Article.

You'll be prompted for the bibliographic information for the document. For the moment, we'll leave the field Bibtexkey (at the bottom of the window) blank. The types of information that are required may vary from document type to document type. For instance, the journal article type might require a Volume, whereas a book might not.

Note that authors names are given in spoken order (i.e., first name, middle name or initial (if available), last name), and separated by the word and.

Note the the braces around some of the letters in How to {R}emain {A}nonymous for {F}un and {P}rofit. We placed braces around letters whose capitalization should not be changed when the document is cited. Different bibliography styles have different conventions on capitalization, but sometimes we need to specify that capitalization should not change. In this example, we're not concerned whether the word "for" is capitalized or not, but "Fun" and "Profit" should be, so we place braces around those letters. The same technique would hold for acronyms. E.g., we would use the title My Thoughts on {NATO} to ensure that "NATO" appears in all capitals.

We left the Bibtexkey blank because JabRef can automatically generate citation keys for the document. Citation keys can be generated using the wand button on the left hand toolbar.

JabRef generated the cite key Doe1978 by using the author's surname and the year of publication. Now, in a LaTeX document, this journal article could be cited with the command \cite{Doe1978}.

If the abstract of the paper is readily available, it can be entered into the abstract field for the document. This is not necessary, but can be useful for generating annotated bibliographies, or for sharing bibliographic databases. Again, this field is not necessary.

When you are done adding documents to the database, save your bibliography using the Save button in the toolbar, or by selecting File : Save.

Copyright Joshua Taylor. July 23, 2007.