JabRef and LateX

JabRef is a reference manager that acts as an interface to the BibTeX style used by the LaTeX typesetting system.  It is open source and is freely downloadable.  The graphical interface allows the user to easily import, edit, search, and group citations in the BibTeX format.  It also offers automatic key generation.  JabRef does not offer any citation styles of its own; instead, the citation is generated from the BibTeX file by LaTeX.  Specifications for each style are given by the chosen style file.

JabRef can be used on Windows, Linux, and Mac.

JabRef website

JabRef Citation Keys

JabRef entries will automatically create a BibTeX citation key in the manner of {author surname year} with no gaps e.g. Gratzer2011

If you like this key style just ensure that when you are importing references that the Generate Key box is ticker.

If you do not like this key style, JabRef allows the user to easily write over the suggested key. The BibTeX key is located under the Required fields tab.

Step-by-step JabRef and LaTeX guide

Download JabRef

  • If you do not already have JabRef installed on your computer, download it from this website.

Create new entry in JabRef

  • Click the BibTeX tab then from the drop-down options select new entry (or use the short keys ctrl and together)
  • A pop-up box will appear and ask you to select the entry type:
    • Article, Book, Booklet, Conference, Electronic, Inbook, Incollection, Inproceedings, Manual MasterThesis, Patent, Periodical etc. 
  • The entry editor has six tabs: Required fieldsOptional fieldsGeneral (available for all entry types), AbstractReview, and BibTeX source (showing the entry in BibTeX format)


  • Import in BibTeX format directly into the JabRef manager
  • In UniMelb Discovery, search for your reference
  • After selecting the required reference, open detailed record
  • On the right-hand side of the screen is a list of Tools 
  • Select Export
  • Under the Export manager, select Citations in BibTeX format then save
  • A new screen will open with a reference beginning with an @ symbol
  • Highlight reference from @ to } symbol and drag into your JabRef manager
  • A pop up screen will appear with the information you have dragged into JabRef
  • Ensure the Generate Key box is ticked then press OK

Export bibliography

  • Save Reference list into the same folder as your LaTeX document ensuring the file ends with .bib extension
  • Go to the File tab then select Save Database from the dropdown list