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A Ruby utility to list all the citation keys in a BibTeX file

Lincoln A. Mullen | [email protected] |


You can install bibkeys from RubyGems:

gem install bibkeys

If you don't have it installed already, you'll need to install bibtex-ruby, which does most of the heavy lifting. Using gem to install bibkeys should install that dependency for you.


To list all the keys in a BibTeX file:

bibkeys bibliography.bib

To sort the list of keys:

bibkeys -s bibliography.bib

To list all the keys in multiple files:

bibkeys bib1.bib bib2.bib etc.bib

This program functions as *nix-style utility. Accordingly, it can read from stdin:

cat bibliography.bib | bibkeys -

To save the keys to a file:

bibkeys bibliography.bib > keys.txt

Using Bibkeys with Vim

Bibkeys may be useful to you if you use BibTeX citation keys in your writing. I generate a file with citation keys automatically whenever I edit my BibTeX database. In my .vimrc, I've added the following lines:

set dictionary=$HOME/bib/citekeys.txt
set complete+=k

When writing a citation in a LaTeX or Pandoc document, typing the beginning of a citation and pressing Ctrl-X Ctrl-K or Ctrl-X Ctrl-N autocompletes the citation. (N.B. This only works if your citation keys do not contain characters like : or -. If you keys do have those characters, you'll need to user-completion or omni-completion, both of which are a pain.)