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BIBTOOL(1) General Commands Manual BIBTOOL(1)


BibTool - BibTeX file manipulation tool


bibtool [options] [files]


This manual is not meant to be exhaustive. The complete documentation for BibTool can be found in the BibTool Manual. BibTeX provides an easy to use means to integrate citations and bibliographies into LaTeX documents. But the user is left alone with the management of the BibTeX files. BibTool is intended to fill this gap. BibTool allows the manipulation of BibTeX files which goes beyond the possibilities - and intentions - of BibTeX.

BibTool manipulates BibTeX database files through the command line front-end bibtool which accepts numerous options. Modifications are performed through resource instructions that allow the modification of the various internal parameters determining the behavior of BibTool; resource instructions can be grouped in resource files. The original BibTool distribution contains a sufficient set of resource file samples to perform basic, relevant manipulations.


bibtool accepts the following options.

Resource files

Immediately evaluate the instructions from the default resource file.
Immediately evaluate the instructions from the resource file rsc_file.
-- rsc_cmd
Evaluate the resource instruction rsc_cmd.

Input file

Add the BibTeX database file bib_file to the list of input files. If -i omitted the file name may not start with a -. If absent stdin is taken to read from. Input files should follow the bibtex(1) conventions.

Output file

Direct output to the file output_file. If absent the output is directed to stdout.

Status reporting

Suppress warnings. Errors can not be suppressed.
Enable informative messages on the activities of BibTool.


Enable sorting of entries.
Enable sorting of entries in reverse order.
Determine key disambuguation; type in 0, a, A.

Selecting items

Extract the entries from the auxiliary (.aux) LaTeX aux_file file.
Select certain entries according to the regular expression regex.
Turn on the additional selection of crossreferenced entries.

Key generation

Set the specification for key generation to key_format.
Turn on key generation.
Generate short format keys.
Generate long format keys.

Semantic checks

Find and mark (or delete) entries with identical sort keys.


Write the macro definitions to the file mac_file (- is stdout).
Write the used macro definitions to the file mac_file (- is stdout).

Getting help

Print short help and exit.
Print version and exit.


Print statistics about all known entry types (long).
Print statistics about the used entry types only (short).


Search path for BibTeX database (.bib) files.
Search path for BibTool resource (.rsc) files.
List of resource file names separated by colon.


The default current directory BibTool resource file.
The default individual BibTool resource file.
The BibTool resource files included in the original distribution.
The BibTool Manual.
The BibTool Quick Reference Card.


bibtex(1), latex(1), tex(1)
The BibTool Manual.


Some arrays are allocated statically which may result in an overflow.
Most memory is allocated but not returned to the OS: A garbage collection algorithm might be integrated in a future release.
This man page is updated only occasionally, so it is very likely out of date. For complete, current documentation, refer to the BibTool Manual which is distributed as LaTeX source file (bibtool.tex) in the original BibTool source distribution.


BibTool is designed and maintained by Gerd Neugebauer.

24 February 2012 Debian