[OS X TeX] plea for help with TeX bibliographic databases: the humanities, and unicode

Peter Pagin peter.pagin at philosophy.su.se
Wed Apr 13 04:01:04 EDT 2005

I work in the humanities (sort of) and I have been using BibTex and 
BibDesk and the natbib package, with much pleasure (thanks to Adam 
Maxwell and Patrick Daly, among others). I did use Daly's makebst 
package to customize my own preferred bibliographystyle, and, together 
with the \bibpunct command managed to get it in the end the way I wanted.

However, some fields are needed that are not provided for by makebst. In 
the case you need to add information about reprints or translations, you 
find no field dedicated to that. I tried putting it into other fields, 
like url (with font changed) but the resulting formatting was not 
completely satisfactory. In the end I added the information in one of 
the other fields, at the point where the information should appear. This 
turned out to be in the page number field, according to my style. The 
output is ok, but when I'll need another style, I might have to do a 
fair bit of work.

The ultimate solution is of course to learn enough TeX to produce my own 
bst without relying completely on Daly's makebst, but I am not there 
yet. If someone has a hint for a shortcut, I would be grateful.

I did, however, manage to add definitions to the language input, 
babelbst, so that I can get e.g. 'Page references to the reprint.' 
automatically translated into German or Swedish when I assign another 
language in babel. That works very well, even though a couple of extra 
lines are needed when this is combined with the bibentry package.


Roger Hart wrote:

> After reading all of the very helpful and detailed responses so 
> generously offered in the thread,
> Re: [OS X TeX] Beginner: bibliography strategy?
> I decided that I should revisit the problem, which I had two months 
> ago given up on in complete frustration, of working with bibliographic 
> databases in LaTeX, for publications in the humanities (following the 
> Chicago Manual of Style), with unicode.
> First I should note that I am in no way an expert in computers, 
> programming, LaTeX, or TeX, but I have spent a considerable amount of 
> time trying to resolve these issues to get something working.
> In general, most of the tools I work with now handle unicode fairly 
> well -- both the extended European characters (probably of most 
> interest to others on this list) and CJK (Chinese, Japanese and Korean):
> TeXShop works perfectly, as far as I can tell, including complex regex 
> expressions, and is a really excellent program,
> most LaTeX packages work without incident,
> other utilities like Terminal and Perl work fine, and finally,
> XeTeX of course is an extremely exciting development.
> But bibliographic databases and utilities seem to me to still have 
> considerable limitations. My sense is that they probably work well for 
> the sciences and medicine in English, but not as well for the 
> humanities, which have more complex (or admittedly, arcane, if you 
> prefer) citations and bibliographies, and almost always include 
> several languages.
> EndNote, as some have noted, crashes often, more than even beta 
> software should, yet costs $100 per upgrade. While EndNote 8 *is* a 
> significant upgrade -- it now handles unicode -- it does not import 
> CJK properly so you have to type it in by hand. Import and export 
> filters, and connection files are very good. But find/replace 
> capabilities are very poor: for example, it is impossible to generate 
> LaTeX keys from the author and year fields to be placed in the label 
> field (that is, except by hand, one-by-one). For reasons I don't 
> understand, exporting all the records as text does not work reliably, 
> making it impossible to export the text, clean it up through perl 
> scripts, and import it again. But EndNote is the only program that 
> comes close to having the capabilities to handle humanities citations.
> BibTex with LaTeX packages, such as natbib, etc., don't seem to me to 
> have even the number of fields needed to be potentially capable of 
> formatting a bibliography for the humanities.
> BibDesk still seems to me not to handle unicode well. I turned off 
> character conversions, set open and save to UTF-8, but I can't even 
> get it to properly import European characters in a file, or by pasting 
> an entire record. Only cutting and pasting field by field, or typing 
> into each field, seems to work. BibDesk otherwise looks very 
> promising, with excellent integration with TeXShop, so I hope this 
> will be fixed soon (assuming I'm not missing something here).
> Sente seems very nice for downloading files, but the choice of filters 
> seems very odd, for example not including OCLC WorldCat, the most 
> complete database for research university libraries.
> So after having spent a couple more days looking in to all of this, I 
> have again concluded that the most efficient strategy for formatting a 
> humanities bibliography is to import from WorldCat into EndNote, 
> export a formatted \bibitem ... entry, paste into my bibliography, and 
> clean it up by hand.
> This is not the approach I would prefer to take, and this is really 
> another plea for help: I would, of course, be extremely grateful for 
> any suggestions, or corrections to these very preliminary impressions.
> Best,
> Roger
> ********************************
> Roger Hart
> Assistant Professor, Departments of History and Asian Studies
> University of Texas at Austin
> office: Room 405, Garrison Hall
> office phone: 512-475-7258
> department fax: 512-475-7222
> email: rhart at mail.utexas.edu
> http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rhart
> *********************************
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Department of Philosophy, Stockholm University
106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
tel: +46-8-162813, fax: +46-8-152226
email: peter.pagin at philosophy.su.se

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