Skip to Main Content

Bibliographic Referencing Software

An overview on using Bibliographic Referencing Software

LaTeX, BibTeX and Overleaf

LaTeX, usually used with BibTeX, is a free typesetting system for document preparation. It is suitable for mathematical formulas, chemistry, engineering, multilingual typesetting, artwork, diagrams and spot colour. BibTeX allows you to store the details of references in a file which can then be linked to a LaTeX document.


Overleaf is a collaborative, online LaTeX editor, designed to make the process of writing, editing and producing your research papers and project reports much quicker. Overleaf can also be linked to other services such as Zotero, Mendeley, Git and to best fit into your workflow. Some benefits of Overleaf are:
  • Easy to use templates
  • Rich text mode helps beginners start quickly
  • Collaborate with others in real time
  • Upload documents directly to publishers.

Macquarie University Library provides Overleaf Pro+ accounts for all students and staff. Sign up using your MQ email address here:

Overleaf at Macquarie University

Referencing tools and BibTeX

A BibTeX file can be exported from Zotero, Mendeley, or Endnote and used with your LaTeX document. However, using this 'manual' method, you must replace the file every time you add new references and want to cite them.

For full integration with BibTeX, there are plugins for Zotero and Mendeley which automatically update your BibTeX file whenever you add a new reference to your Zotero/Mendeley library. 

If using Overleaf, set up the integration following these instructions:

Note that in both Mendeley and Zotero, the integration will link your entire library by default. To keep a separate set of references for your project, you can set up a Group and link that. However, the integration does not support linking of specific folders within a group (only the whole group).

Overleaf and LaTeX help

Referencing with BibTeX

  • BibTeX allows you to store the details of references in a file which can then be linked to a LaTeX document.
  • Instead of BibTex you can also use BibLaTex or NatBib which are more customisable.
  • BibTeX/BibLaTeX/NatBib files are plain text and usually end in .bib. They can be edited with any plain text editor or a program such as Overleaf.
  • Each reference entry begins with the declaration of the reference type, in the form of @type followed by a left curly brace and a citation key, then all the reference details and a right curly brace to close.
  • The citation key is like a 'nickname' for the reference, e.g. for a paper written by Smith in 2015 you might choose Smith2015.