Skip to Main Content UNSW Canberra logo
Academy Library

Citations & Referencing

LaTeX is a document preparation system/graphical operating system which is ideally suited for you if you want to produce your thesis in to a high typographical quality. It can be used for almost any form of document that you want to produce such as assignments, project reports, questionnaires…etc.

LaTeX is not a word processor. It is a document mark-up language. You just create a plain text file, in a text editor, with the extension .tex, and then produce an output file that converts your source text, combined with the markup language into a high quality document. You don’t need to do any manual graphic designing or formatting as you do when using word processors. LaTeX is widely used by scientists, engineers and other academics, because it makes it easy to typeset any complex mathematical formulae.

Below is an example of a simple LaTeX document in its plain text form and the final PDF output. 

Example .tex

Final output

To install LaTeX you will need:

  • A TeX distribution and
  • A TeX editor

What is TeX distribution?

The distribution contains the typesetting system as well as many packages that you may use when writing LaTeX documents. The LaTeX distribution is provided by the LaTeX Project and there are different distributions for different operating systems. TeXLive can be installed on most operating systems while others are system specific such as MiKTEX and proTEXt for Windows and MacTEX for MacOSX.

What is TeX editor?

A LaTeX distribution may or may not include an editor. You can choose an editor as you wish. At the very basic level you can use a simple text editor. But there are many good editors available for different Operating Systems and you can select one of them. They provide you with specific functionality such as code highlighting, macros, automatic document generation, auto completion...etc.

How can I obtain and install LateX?

LaTeX software is distributed through the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network (CTAN) servers. You can find many easily installable and usable TeX distributions on the CTAN website as well as important support documentation. Please also visit the LaTeX Project website for more information and instructions.

BibTeX generates and formats your bibliography in a LaTeX document.

LaTeX Includes features for you to easily cite references and create bibliographies in your document. The examples below show you  how to do this using a separate BibTeX file to store the details of your references. Your BibTeX file extension is .bib and it should contain all the references that you cite in your document. The .bib file is plain text and it can only be edited using Notepad or your LaTeX editor.

BibTeX example:

You should enter your references in the BibTeX file in the following format. Each reference starts with the document type.

@Book{<user-generated citation key>,

    Author = {name of the author},
    Title = {book title},
    Publisher = {publishing company},
    Address = {where published}
    Year = {year published}.

Citation key is a unique identifier for a given reference. BibTeX scans your document for occurrences of a cite command with a citation key embedded in it, and translates it into a formatted reference.You can use anything you want as the citation key, but it is recommended that you choose something systematic that can easily differentiate between publications. Eg: First author's name and the year of publication.

Example .bib file

You can cite a reference in your .tex document by typing the below command where you want to cite a reference;


To include page numbers in your in text citation put it in square brackets before the citation key as shown below;

\cite[p. 28]{citationkey}

If you only want the references to appear in your bibliography without giving an in text citation, enter the following commands at the end of your text;

\nocite{citationkey} to appear only one citation from the .bib file

\nocite{*} to appear all the citations available in the .bib file

The below command is to cite multiple references within your text. You should include all the citation keys within the curly brackets separated by commas;


Note: Go to Example .tex and Final PDF output to see where it is placed within the source text and how it appears in the final PDF output.

Using other reference management programs with BibTeX

RefWorks, EndNote, Mendeley, JabRef and many other reference management programs can export existing records to your BibTeX file in BibTeX format. With this facility you can get your references exported to your BibTeX file very easily without entering/editing them manually.

The steps below will assist you to export references from EndNote to BibTeX file:

  1. Open your EndNote library,
  2. Select the records that you want to export,
  3. Go to the "file" menu and select the "Export" option,
  4. On the export dialog box that appears, choose a file name and location for the exported file on your computer,
  5. Change the output style to "BibTeX Export" (if you can't see BibteX export option in the bibliographic output style drop down menu, go to "Select another style" option),

   6. Click "Save" button and the EndNote will create the BibTeX file for you

The following commands will insert the bibliography in your .tex document.


\bibliography{bibliography name}

APA example:



See below example to see where it is placed within the source text.

UNSW theses templates

UNSW hosts a mirror of CTAN. The UNSW theses templates on CTAN website do almost all the formatting work for you. Please also visit unswcover page for more help


Useful Documents



Staff Sign In