Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I use JabRef in my work. Should I mention JabRef in my publications?

A: You are not obliged to cite JabRef, but we would greatly appreciate it if you do.

Q: Is JabRef free for private and corporate use?

A: Yes it is. JabRef is distributed under the MIT License, which allows the following usage.

Q: JabRef does not start. What should I do?

A: You can try resetting the settings. Depending on your operating system, you may need to pass the command line arguments -d all -n to JabRef.

(E.g. in Windows this means jabref-X.Y.exe -d all -n, where X.Y means the version number of JabRef. If this does not help, run regedit and delete the folder HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\JavaSoft\Prefs\net\sf\jabref. Be careful with regedit, as you can easily corrupt the basic Windows configuration.)

Q: I have tried the latest version of JabRef. Since then, the library entries are no longer displayed in any old version. What should I do?

A: Don't panic. No data should be damaged in your bib library. Since version 5.0 the columns in the main entry table are stored differently internally. You can reset the preferences by command line. See above.

Q: Are there any publications dealing with JabRef?

A: We are collecting all publications we hear about at https://github.com/JabRef/jabref/wiki/JabRef-in-the-media.

Q: Does JabRef support non-English languages or UTF8 in general?

A: Yes. In Options → Preferences → General set "Default Encoding" to UTF8 and select an alternative user interface language in "Language" if required.

Q: If I double click a BibTeX file in the file browser, JabRef always opens a new window. Can JabRef open the libraries in the same window just in a different tab?

A: In Options → Preferences → Advanced → “Remote operation” put a checkmark to “Listen for remote operation on port”. This option allows new instances of JabRef to detect the instance already running, and pass files to that instead of opening a new window. (Default option since JabRef 3.0).

Q: I have an DOI/ISBN/ePrint/etc. Is it possible to create an entry directly out of this identifier?

A: In Library → New entry you can select the type of the identifier in the field "ID type" and enter the identifier in "ID". A click on "Generate" should create the correct entry. If this does not work, try a web search.

Q: Why can't JabRef find any DOI/ISBN/ePrint/etc.?

A: There are several reasons why JabRef cannot find your identifier online. (E.g. one reason could be that your DOI is not listed in the CrossRef database if you are using the CrossRef fetcher. Another reason could be that the search result for your DOI on DOI.org returns invalid BibTeX which is unable to be read by JabRef.) Try a web search instead.

Q: I miss a field translator, lastfollowedon, etc. How can I add such fields?

A: To add this translator field to all entry types, you can use Options → Set up general fields and add a translator field under one of JabRef's general field tabs. To add this translator field to a specific entry type, edit the specific entry type(s) (Options → Customize entry types) and add a translator field under required fields or optional fields, as you like.

Q: How do I prevent JabRef from introducing line breaks in certain fields (such as “title”) when saving the .bib file?

A: Open Options → Preferences. In the “File” panel, you will find an option called “Do not wrap the following fields when saving”. This option contains a semicolon-separated list of field names. Any field you add to this list will always be stored without introduction of line breaks.

Q: Is it possible to append entries from a BibTeX file, e.g. from my web browser, to the currently opened library?

A: Yes, you can use the parameter --importToOpen bibfile of the command line.

Q: How do I link external files with paths relative to my .bib file, so I can move my library along with its files to another directory?

A: You need to override the default file directory for this specific library. In File → Library properties you can override the Default file directory setting. There, you can either enter the path in General file directory (for it to be valid for all users of the file) or in User-specific file directory (for it to be valid for you only). If you simply enter “.” (a dot, without the quotes), the file directory will be the same as the .bib file directory. To place your files in a subdirectory called subdir, you can enter “./subdir” (without the quotes). Files will automatically be linked with relative paths if the files are placed in the default file directory or in a directory below it.

Q: Can I use a bib-file specific PDF directory?

A: In File → Library properties you can choose a library specific directory in the field “General file directory”. If you want to set a directory only for you (so that other users should use the default directory), use the field “User-specific file directory”.

Q: How do I export my bibliography entries into a simple text file, so I can import them into a spreadsheet (in LibreOffice, OpenOffice, MS Office, etc.)?

A: Use File → Export. As “Filter” choose “OpenOffice/LibreOffice CSV (*.csv)”.

Q: How do I add and remove keywords of multiple entries?

A: Select the entries. Right click. Choose “Manage keywords”. There you can manage keywords appearing in all selected entries or in any selected entry. New keywords are added to all selected entries.

Q: When linking a file, I cannot set the correct type. How do I add new types?

A: In Options → Manage external file types you can add arbitrary types.

Q: When an organization is provided as author, my BibTeX style doesn't recognize it. For instance, why is “European Commission” converted to “Commission, E.”.?

A: Use curly braces to tell BibTeX to keep your author field as is: {European Commission}. In BibLaTeX, you can use label = {EC} to have EC05 as label for a publication of the European Commission in the year 2005.

Q: Is there a FAQ on BibTeX?

A: Take a look at “Bibliographies and citations” at the UK List of TeX Frequently Asked Questions on the Web. For German readers, there is the dante e.V. FAQ.

Q: How do I export a subset to of my library to BibTeX (or BibLaTeX) format?

A: Your JabRef library is already a file in Bib(La)TeX format. To export a specific subset of your library select the entries to be exported and then choose File → Export → Save Selected as plain BibTeX....

Q: How do I export a subset corresponding to my LaTeX file?

A: Upon compilation, LaTeX generates a file with the extension ".aux". This files contains the keys of the cited references (among other things). Using this AUX file, JabRef can extract the relevant entries. Choose the menu Tools → New sublibrary based on AUX file. Select the reference library (among the opened ones) and specify the AUX file.

Q: When I modify my library, I would like that JabRef performs entry cleaning automatically. How to do this?

A: In File → Library properties, you will find a section named "Save actions". After enabling this feature, you can choose which actions should be performed for each field upon saving. That should help you keep your library tidy.

Q: Search on Google scholar does not work anymore. Why?

A: Google scholar is blocking "automated" crawls which generate too much traffic in a short time. JabRef already uses a two-step approach (with the prefetched list before crawling the actual BibTeX data) to circumvent this. However, after too much crawls JabRef is being blocked. To solve this issue, see the section Traffic limitations in the Google Scholar help.

Q: JabRef does not push to vim, although I have configured the right path and server name. What is going on?

A: You have to start vim with the option --servername (such as vim --servername MyVimServer). If you get the Unknown option argument message, it means your version of vim does not include the clientserver feature (you can check with vim --version). In such a case, you have to install another version of vim.

Q: My plugins stopped working. Why?

A: In JabRef 3.0 plugin support was removed, because the development team cannot keep up plugin support any more. Nevertheless, plugins can be integrated in JabRef. See issue #152 for the current status and discussion. Please contact the author of the respective plugin and ask him to port his plugin into JabRef's code.

Q: In the preferences, I want to change the option XYZ. How to find it?

A: Enter XYZ in the search field located at the upper left-hand corner of the preference window.

Q: My question is not answered here. What can I do?

A: After consulting JabRef's help and checking whether your question has been regarded as issue, please head over to the Forum.

Q: There is a mistake in this FAQ, a dead link or I have written a better/new explanation for a question! What can I do?

A: See How to improve the help page.

Q: "Unable to monitor file changes. Please close files and processes and restart. You may encounter errors if you continue with this session."

A: This error message has been observed on systems that use inotify. System calls to inotify_init and inotify_add_watch set errno to EMFILE when inotify has reached its limit. The most common reason is that inotify is running too many instances. To solve this problem, contact you system administrator and request that they increase the limits defined in /proc/sys/fs/inotify/max_user_* files.

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Contents
Q: I use JabRef in my work. Should I mention JabRef in my publications?
Q: Is JabRef free for private and corporate use?
Q: JabRef does not start. What should I do?
Q: I have tried the latest version of JabRef. Since then, the library entries are no longer displayed in any old version. What should I do?
Q: Are there any publications dealing with JabRef?
Q: Does JabRef support non-English languages or UTF8 in general?
Q: If I double click a BibTeX file in the file browser, JabRef always opens a new window. Can JabRef open the libraries in the same window just in a different tab?
Q: I have an DOI/ISBN/ePrint/etc. Is it possible to create an entry directly out of this identifier?
Q: Why can't JabRef find any DOI/ISBN/ePrint/etc.?
Q: I miss a field translator, lastfollowedon, etc. How can I add such fields?
Q: How do I prevent JabRef from introducing line breaks in certain fields (such as “title”) when saving the .bib file?
Q: Is it possible to append entries from a BibTeX file, e.g. from my web browser, to the currently opened library?
Q: How do I link external files with paths relative to my .bib file, so I can move my library along with its files to another directory?
Q: Can I use a bib-file specific PDF directory?
Q: How do I export my bibliography entries into a simple text file, so I can import them into a spreadsheet (in LibreOffice, OpenOffice, MS Office, etc.)?
Q: How do I add and remove keywords of multiple entries?
Q: When linking a file, I cannot set the correct type. How do I add new types?
Q: When an organization is provided as author, my BibTeX style doesn't recognize it. For instance, why is “European Commission” converted to “Commission, E.”.?
Q: Is there a FAQ on BibTeX?
Q: How do I export a subset to of my library to BibTeX (or BibLaTeX) format?
Q: How do I export a subset corresponding to my LaTeX file?
Q: When I modify my library, I would like that JabRef performs entry cleaning automatically. How to do this?
Q: Search on Google scholar does not work anymore. Why?
Q: JabRef does not push to vim, although I have configured the right path and server name. What is going on?
Q: My plugins stopped working. Why?
Q: In the preferences, I want to change the option XYZ. How to find it?
Q: My question is not answered here. What can I do?
Q: There is a mistake in this FAQ, a dead link or I have written a better/new explanation for a question! What can I do?
Q: "Unable to monitor file changes. Please close files and processes and restart. You may encounter errors if you continue with this session."