How to prepare entries to the COLT Bibliography

Entry type:

we ignore some of the fine distinctions available in bibtex and map almost everything onto the types of

article, book, inbook, incollection, inproceedings, mastersthesis, phdthesis, and techreport.

Preprints (a.k.a. "Manuscripts") are considered unnumbered techreports for our purposes, since they are often later distributed in that form. If present entries in the bibliography are any guide, you should rarely need other entry types. In particular, note that low-grade items like personal communications should not be included since our charter is to cover only openly available materials. If you need such an entry in your papers' reference lists, please keep it in a supplementary bibliography file until it is published. For example,


specifies a search path of three files bibtex can use to satisfy references.

Citation tag:

it's easy to come up with citetags that are mnemonic, short, or unique, but not to have all three at the same time.
    The system we use is a compromise.  
Our citetags consist of an author part (first letter of surname of each author), a title part (first letter or digit string of each significant word in the title, up to 7 characters), and a year part (last two digits of year of publication), separated by dashes. Thus

J. O'Rourke, Art Gallery Theorems and Algorithms, 1987

reduces to

The tricky part of this is how to define "significant" words of the title, particularly when punctuation and mathematical strings are involved. Here are the formal rules, which are intended to produce a commonsense result as often as possible: For just under 99% of entries the citetag generated by this procedure will not conflict with that of any existing entry. But if it does, you'll have to find some way to break the tie. In our experience, collisions at this stage have come about only from various forms of the ``same paper'' conflicting with each other, and one of the following tiebreaking rules suffices: If the resulting citetags don't match your favourite descriptor for the reference, you can still use the old familiar version if you declare a mapping between the two in your TeX source, such as the following:


You needn't go through the process for entries you don't cite: the merging software will automatically generate citetags for contributed entries lacking them. It also keeps entries in the colt.bib file sorted in order of author, title, and year, in order to bring various appearances of the same paper together. (This should match the order of the default softcopy.)


we support all fields from the bibtex standard styles, plus a few common extensions like




are our own.

Conventions for entering all of these are as follows. Quotes aren't necessary when the field value is entirely digits (true for volume, number, and year, normally). You should use the empty string "" for fields you can't complete just yet; e.g.

pages = ""

for a conference or journal paper to appear). Some older entries use a visible placeholder like "??"; if you need to cite them, please fill in the hole, or change to "", as feasible.

Next, we explain the meaning and usage of the fields.

abstract: verbatim from the original item (optional)

- little used in present entries, it's best added only when short and sweet

address: city of publication

- use for books, techreports, theses, and obscure irregular conferences; otherwise discouraged

- use only first city if publisher lists several

- add two-letter state/province codes for US/Canada cities; for others, add country

- give English-language name, with correct diacriticals (e.g. Munich rather than M{\"u}nchen, Saarbr{\"u}cken rather than Saarbruecken)

- city/country names to use are those in effect at time of publication (e.g. West and East Germany from 1949 until 3 October 1990, Germany thereafter)

annote: explanatory or critical comment on item content (optional)

- little used in present entries, but welcomed

author: author(s) of the publication

- separate multiple author fields with " and ", order same as in reference

- author's names in name, initials order

- use braces to enclose capitalized or comma-separated elements of a compound surname, e.g.

    {Van Wyk} or {Lipski, Jr.}

- instead of full given names you may follow the custom of mathematical literature and use initials, space-separated (exceptions to avoid collision: Ta. Asano, Te. Asano)

- [van Leunen p.155] by

    ``strict and narrow propriety'' 
we should cite precisely the name which appears on the item, even if it leads to irregularities. While it is reasonable to fix up such typographical glitches (attributable to coauthors, copy editors, and the pressure of deadlines) as you are certain the author would want you to, inconsistent practice is for the author and not the bibliographer to worry about.

booktitle: title of book or proceedings containing item

- for English items, capitalize first word, first word after a colon, and all other words except articles and unstressed conjunctions and prepositions. Otherwise follow capitalization conventions of the native language, if you know them. (According to the MLA Handbook, for French, German, Italian, Latin, and Spanish, capitalization in titles is the same as in normal prose.) There is no need for braces on capitalized words in this field.

- abbreviations for some popular conferences are in the authority file. The merging software will recognize and convert most variant abbreviations to standard form.

chapter: chapter or section number, where item is part of a monograph

- use entry type of incollection if chapter has its own title, inbook otherwise

cites: citations made by item (optional)

- give as list using biblio citetags, such as

         cites = "bs-dcms-76, gjpt-tsp-78, o-agta-87"
- needn't be an exhaustive copy of the item's citations, but if used should at least give the significant ones. You can say cites = "(complete) bs-dcms-76, ..." if the list is exhaustive.

comments: bibliographic marginal notes

- supplemental information not a part of the reference proper: notes on a item's source language, or relation to other items, or a UMI order number and page count, or a Computing Reviews or Math Reviews number...

- separate multiple comments with a semicolon

- "to appear in", "submitted to", "in press" and the like require fixup later, at which time changes in other info such as title (and thus label) tend to be overlooked; so please use these only as comments on the future of an entry already published in some form

edition: of a book

- use numbered ordinal, e.g. "2nd"

editor: - editors of proceedings are not needed, and discouraged

- otherwise, use guidelines for author

institution: publisher of a techreport

- include any relevant department, and list in minor-to-major order (e.g. "Dept. Comput. Sci., Univ. California Berkeley")

isbn: of book, proceedings, collections (optional)

- very helpful for otherwise hard-to-find items, convenient in the standard case

- give with hyphens as specified by publisher

journal: name of the journal in which item appeared

- abbreviations for some popular journals are in the authority file. The merging software will recognize and convert most variant abbreviations to standard form.

- separate journal series are considered separate journals, e.g.

     journal = "J. Combin. Theory Ser. A",
rather than series or volume A


- use to supplement, for searching or descriptive purposes, terms already present in the item's title

- separate multiple keywords with commas

- keywords need only be attached to the newest of a paper's appearances, if identical for all

- use those in authority file, by preference

- additions to the list of keywords, are expected and welcomed, within reason;

month: month of publication

- encouraged for techreports and theses, discouraged otherwise

- use bibtex standard abbreviations (three letters, lower case, no quotes)


- use for supplemental information which should appear in a citing paper's reference list; otherwise use comments field

- e.g. note = "Errata in 2(1981), 105"

- for theses, give techreport type and number, if known, e.g. note = "Report TR-86-103"

number: of techreport, work in a series, or issue of journal

- essential for true techreports (nolle techreportum sine numeratum)

- for journals, necessary iff there exists more than one "page 1" per volume (e.g. proceedings as separately-paginated issue of journal), and discouraged otherwise

- use "--" for combined issues, e.g. "3--4"


- use double dash "--" in a number range

- make sure that you have the right page numbers

precedes/succeeds: pointer lists for temporal relationships among entries

- for example

precedes = "oy-nubks-88" points to new & improved paper

succeeds = "k-cmgcl-77" is backpointer from it

publisher: the publisher's name

- see authority file for standard names of some publishers

school: granting degree, for thesis

- include any relevant department, since this assists inquiries about availability or contents, and list in minor-to-major order (e.g. "Dept. Comput. Sci., Univ. California Berkeley")

series: of books

- e.g. "Lecture Notes in Computer Science"

title: title of item

- for English non-books, you need only capitalize first word and proper names, and enclose latter capitalized words in braces so that bibtex will leave them alone. If you prefer, you may capitalize other words in a title to get full uppers & lowers capitalization, but take care not to embrace them. (Full capitalization is optional because it's more complex, and we know of no journals still requiring it.)

- omit qualifiers like "(extended abstract)"

- [van Leunen p.170] regardless of the style of the original, use colon to separate title from subtitle (edit if necessary): for example change "Serial science. {I}. Definitions" to "Serial science, {I}: Definitions"

- otherwise "correct" only what you're certain the author would want you to

- enclose math expressions (including numbers) in {$ ... $}, and express in TeX notation

type: of techreport or thesis

- e.g. "Technical Report" or "Manuscript" or "M.{Phil}. Thesis"

- for theses, give the actual degree name, and supplement with keywords

"master thesis" or "doctoral thesis" accordingly

- if the thesis was distributed as a numbered report, then give its type and number in the note= field

- capitalized words after the first need braces in this field

update: date and bibliographer corresponding to last change

- maintained by the merging software (so don't bother)

volume: in journal or multivolume book

year: year of publication

- "to appear", "submitted", "in press", etc? See the comments field.

'%' lines before entries: marginal comments wrt bibliography maintenance

- use to flag entries with errors you can't fix just now ("% wrong volume number"), or to flag truthful data that may look erroneous ("% yes, ``connexion''")

- the string "###" can be used to call attention where you believe something is missing or wrong. Feel free to fix such entries if you have the correct details handy.

Uparrowback to the COLTBIB

Thomas Zeugmann / < thomas @ ist . hokudai . ac .jp>

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