LaTeX and BibTeX

Adapted from

What is LaTeX?

LaTeX is a typesetting program that takes a plain text file with various commands in it and converts it to a formatted document based on the commands that it has been given. The source file for the document has a file extension of .tex. It is widely used at Notre Dame for theses and other technical papers due to its prowess with mathematical and foreign characters.

What is BibTeX?

BibTeX is a bibliographic tool that is used with LaTeX to help organize the user’s references and create a bibliography. A BibTeX user creates a bibliography file that is separate from the LaTeX source file, with a file extension of .bib. Each reference in the bibliography file is formatted with a certain structure and is given a “key” by which the author can refer to in the source .tex file.


If you’re new to LaTeX/BibTeX, consider using Overleaf, an online LaTeX and Rich Text collaborative writing and publishing tool. It includes built-in features to link your Zotero or Mendeley library to your LaTeX document. Notre Dame provides Overleaf accounts for all Notre Dame faculty, students and staff.