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Manual Order of References in LaTeX

Category: Latex

Date: 8 days ago
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In LaTeX, managing the order of references can be crucial for certain types of documents. While BibTeX automates citation management, there are situations where you might want to manually control the order of your references. This article will guide you on how to manually order references in LaTeX.

Why Manual Ordering?

Manual ordering of references might be necessary when:

  • You have specific requirements from a publisher or institution.
  • You want to highlight certain references by placing them in a particular order.
  • You are preparing a simple document with only a few references.

Creating a Manually Ordered Bibliography

Instead of relying on BibTeX, you can manually list your references using the thebibliography environment. Here’s how:

Example LaTeX File (`main.tex`)



\title{Sample Document with Manually Ordered References}
\author{Author Name}


This document cites multiple sources \cite{goossens97}, \cite{lamport94}, \cite{knuth84}, \cite{greenwade93}, \cite{patashnik88}.


Michel Goossens, Frank Mittelbach, and Alexander Samarin.
\textit{The \LaTeX\ Companion}.
Addison-Wesley, 1997.

Leslie Lamport.
\textit{\LaTeX: A Document Preparation System}.
Addison-Wesley, 1994.

Donald E. Knuth.
\textit{The \TeX book}.
Addison-Wesley, 1984.

George D. Greenwade.
"The Comprehensive \TeX\ Archive Network (CTAN)."
\textit{TUGBoat}, 14(3):342--351, 1993.

Oren Patashnik.
Oren Patashnik, 1988.



Steps to Compile

Since this method does not use BibTeX, compiling the document is straightforward:

  1. Run pdflatex main.tex to generate the PDF file directly.

Advantages and Disadvantages


  • Full control over the order of references.
  • No need to manage an additional BibTeX file.
  • Simpler for documents with few references.


  • Less automation, which can lead to more manual work and errors.
  • Not suitable for documents with many references.
  • More difficult to maintain if references need to be added or removed frequently.


Manually ordering references in LaTeX is a straightforward process that provides precise control over how references appear in your document. While this method is less automated than using BibTeX, it is beneficial for specific use cases where order and simplicity are important.


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