[Tex/LaTex] Bibtex: unsrt and crossref


I'm writing a paper for which the bibliographic style is unsrt (imposed by the editor). I use texlive 2010 and latexmk for compilation.

I try to use crossref for inproceedings entries in my bib file. It works well on other documents (with the same bib entries but different styles) but on this one bibtex complains:

Warning--empty booktitle in xxx
Warning--empty booktitle in yyy

The inproceedings are defined before the proceedings as required.

Here is a MWE:



See~\cite{Joe2011} for details.



With the following bib file:

 author = {Joe, J.},
 title = {On the use of crossref and unsrt},
 crossref = {stackexchange/tex/23122}

  title = {Proceedings of question 23122},
  year = {2011},

Simply changing the title field to booktitle works.

The matter is that proceedings entry are supposed to have a title field (not booktitle). For instance JabRef propose only the title field. Most styles I have tried use the title field. For now my problem is closed but maybe someone with good knowledge of bibtex could fix this

Thanks in advance.

Best Answer

This is a well known design flaw of the BibTeX database format:

  • inproceedings entries have to provide both, the title field – which defines the title of the respective paper and the booktitle field, which gives the title of, well, the proceedings book.

  • When you crossref to another entry in BibTex, all fields that have not been set so far are taken from the referred entry. Hence, referring from inproceedings to proceedings imports all fields, but title, which has already been used for the paper title. Afterwards, BibTeX complaints if booktitle is (still) missing.

  • proceedings entries, however, need their title (like other books) to be given by the title field. It is taken if you refer directly to a proceedings book (like \cite{stackexchange/tex/23122}) or the style does it automatically (to shorten your inproceedings entries).

So the general (but ugly) recommendation (e.g., given by WikiPedia) to be able to use proceedings entries stand-alone as well as crossrefed by inproceedings entries is to state the title twice: once as title and once as booktitle.


A less ugly solution to this problem is provided by switching from traditional BibTex to biblatex with the biber backend, as explained in the answer by lockstep.

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