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

Roger Hart rhart at mail.utexas.edu
Wed Apr 13 16:26:13 EDT 2005

Dear Simon,

Thanks so very much for your help!  I looked at jurabib very carefully, 
and I'm very impressed with all of the options. Unfortunately, after 
spending some time on it, I can't seem to get it to work with unicode, 
even the European characters. As I mentioned in a previous post, I 
don't think it is a good investment to convert all my bibliographic 
records to legacy LaTeX workaround encoding, such as \"a, since it 
requires extra work, will not be compatible with other databases I 
might use in the future, will create problems in constructing regex 
perl searches and find/replace, etc.

So, is there some option that I'm missing? I got an error message 
stating I should use "PrerenderUnicode–", but I wasn't sure how to use 
it, and I could find no documentation on the internet, or in any of the 
relevant packages.

But this does point to another possibility -- to keep the BibTeX 
database in unicode, but if there is such a macro, to convert unicode 
characters back to LaTeX equivalents for processing in jurabib, but I 
have no idea where to look for that.

Thanks very much indeed,


On Apr 13, 2005, at 1:38 AM, Simon Spiegel wrote:

> Hi Roger,
> I'm in humanities as well, and I use jurabib. You should check it out. 
> Although its documentation isn't perfect, the package itself is very 
> powerful. There's little you can't do with jurabib. I have entries 
> with author, editors, translators, series, original publication, the 
> books place in the library etc., about everything I can think of.
> simon
> On 13.04.2005, at 04:44, 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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> --
> Simon Spiegel
> Mutschellenstr. 97
> 8038 Zürich
> Switzerland
> +41 43 5358171
> http://www.simifilm.ch
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