How to make your personal LaTeX bibliography style

In orderBiBTeX Logo to create your personal BibTeX style all you have to do is open your terminal (OS X) or command line (Windows) and type in the following line:

latex makebst

To run the command you have to hit Enter once. Immediately, a bunch of text lines should appear on your terminal, just like the following excerpt:

christophs-macbook-air:~ christophgarms$ latex makebst
This is pdfTeX, Version 3.1415926-2.4-1.40.13 (TeX Live 2012)
restricted \write18 enabled.
entering extended mode
LaTeX2e <2011/06/27>
Babel <v3.8m> and hyphenation patterns for english, dumylang, nohyphenation, ge
rman-x-2012-05-30, ngerman-x-2012-05-30, afrikaans, ancientgreek, ibycus, arabi
c, armenian, basque, bulgarian, catalan, pinyin, coptic, croatian, czech, danis
h, dutch, ukenglish, usenglishmax, esperanto, estonian, ethiopic, farsi, finnis
h, french, friulan, galician, german, ngerman, swissgerman, monogreek, greek, h
ungarian, icelandic, assamese, bengali, gujarati, hindi, kannada, malayalam, ma
rathi, oriya, panjabi, tamil, telugu, indonesian, interlingua, irish, italian,
kurmanji, latin, latvian, lithuanian, mongolian, mongolianlmc, bokmal, nynorsk,
polish, portuguese, romanian, romansh, russian, sanskrit, serbian, serbianc, s
lovak, slovenian, spanish, swedish, turkish, turkmen, ukrainian, uppersorbian,
welsh, loaded.
* This is Make Bibliography Style *
It makes up a docstrip batch job to produce
a customized .bst file for running with BibTeX
Do you want a description of the usage? (NO)


So what happens is that this terminal program (Makebst) will ask you a whole lot of questions regarding your aspired personal .bst file. As you can see, the first question is if you want to have a description of its usage. To answer just type in a “y” for Yes (I know you know that) or an “n” for No, thanks. To confirm always hit Enter.

Important to know is that Makebst offers a default setting for most of the questions. Therefor if you come across a question where you don’t know how to answer, just hit Enter and the program will use its default setting for the respective issue. The first example where I always use “just Enter” is question No. 2. Makebst will ask you to enter the name of the master file. No idea :)

In question three you have to set the name of your final .bst file. That’s important! After that the program starts to ask more detailed questions about your style, for example…

(*) Numerical as in standard LaTeX
(a) Author-year with some non-standard interface
(b) Alpha style, Jon90 or JWB90 for single or multiple authors
(o) Alpha style, Jon90 even for multiple authors
(f) Alpha style, Jones90 (full name of first author)
(c) Cite key (special for listing contents of bib file)


I hope you get the idea by now. From my experience, (*) is the default, so you can also hit Enter instead. Finally, after you have answered all 75 questions (own count) about your personalized BibTeX style, the last question will look like this:

Batch job written to file `yourstyle.dbj’
Shall I now run this batch job? (NO)


If you answer Yes, which I recommend, the programm will run the .dbj file to create your customized .bst file. No means just keeping the .djb file for further editing and later running. You will find the created files in your file structure under something like “harddrive/users/yourusername/yourstyle.bst”.

Done. Have fun applying your own style to your next thesis or whatever. Special credits for this article go to As far as I know, this tutorial works for all standard LaTeX distributions. When writing this article, I used MacTeX but I’ve also successfully created .bst files on standard MiKTeX distributions before.

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