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Simple, correct BibTeX parser and algorithms

Project description


This repository was forked from [Austin Clements repository]( to create a [PyPi package](

Biblib provides a simple, standalone Python3 package for parsing BibTeX bibliographic databases, as well as algorithms for manipulating BibTeX entries in BibTeX-y ways.

There are a lot of BibTeX parsers out there. Most of them are complete nonsense based on some imaginary grammar made up by the module’s author that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike BibTeX’s actual grammar. BibTeX has a grammar. It’s even pretty simple, though it’s probably not what you think it is. The hardest part of BibTeX’s grammar is that it’s only written down in one place: the BibTeX source code.

Biblib’s parser is derived directly from the WEB source code for BibTeX and hence (barring bugs in translation) should be fully compatible with BibTeX’s own parser.


  • BibTeX-compatible .bib file parser

  • BibTeX-compatible name parser for fields like author

  • Crossref resolution

  • BibTeX-compatible title casing

  • Translator for common TeX markup (like accents) to Unicode (which can, in turn, be used in HTML and other formats).


Since biblib has no external dependencies or C modules, you can use biblib in your project by simply unpacking it under your source tree and adding


before importing it.

Biblib can also be installed system-wide with

python3 install


There are a few simple examples of biblib’s use in examples/. To run these dircetly from the source tree, use, for example

PYTHONPATH=$PWD ./examples/bibparse test.bib

Recognized grammar

For reference, the .bib parser implements a grammar equivalent to the following PEG. All literals are matched case-insensitively.

bib_db = comment (command_or_entry comment)*

comment = [^@]*

ws = [ tn]*

ident = ![0-9] (![ t”#%’(),={}] [x20-x7f])+

command_or_entry = ‘@’ ws (comment / preamble / string / entry)

comment = ‘comment’

preamble = ‘preamble’ ws ( ‘{’ ws preamble_body ws ‘}’

/ ‘(’ ws preamble_body ws ‘)’ )

preamble_body = value

string = ‘string’ ws ( ‘{’ ws string_body ws ‘}’

/ ‘(’ ws string_body ws ‘)’ )

string_body = ident ws ‘=’ ws value

entry = ident ws ( ‘{’ ws key ws entry_body? ws ‘}’

/ ‘(’ ws key_paren ws entry_body? ws ‘)’ )

key = [^, t}n]*

key_paren = [^, tn]*

entry_body = (‘,’ ws ident ws ‘=’ ws value ws)* ‘,’?

value = piece (ws ‘#’ ws piece)*


= [0-9]+ / ‘{’ balanced* ‘}’ / ‘”’ (!’”’ balanced)* ‘”’ / ident


= ‘{’ balanced* ‘}’ / [^{}]

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