At the moment, the tagging approach regarding "references" (in the broadest sense) seems to be as follows:

  • Questions about cross references (dealing with \label, \ref & friends) will consistently be tagged as referencing.

  • Questions about bibliographic references (dealing with \bibliography, \cite & friends) will normally be tagged as bibliographies.

  • A minority of questions about bibliographic references features the referencing tag instead.

  • Only rarely does a question feature both the referencing and the bibliographies tag (and then sometimes only because of retagging by a high-reputation user).

In my opinion, the current situation is undesirable because the referencing tag may stand for two related, but distinct topics (cross references vs. bibliographic references). I suggest the following change (with two variants):

  1. Questions about bibliographic references currently featuring the referencing tag should be retagged to bibliographies. (The questions concerned will have to be sorted out by hand.)

  2. Like 1, but in addition the referencing tag should be renamed to cross-referencing (with referencing as a tag synomym).

EDIT: As no one objected and Stefan has already started retagging, I'll consider my proposal as accepted. For now, I suggest that any question about bibliographic references that features "special tags" like biblatex or natbib doesn't need a bibliographies tag (just as questions tagged with tikz-pgf don't feature the graphics tag). IMO, bibtex should also be regarded as a "special tag", e.g. for questions regarding the bib-format or programming questions.

Retagging some of the (cross-)referencing questions to bibliographies will flood the start page to a certain extent, but I don't see how this can be avoided.

EDIT2: The cross-referencing tag needed to be removed from nine questions.

  • 2
    While we are at it: why are there 78 bibtex questions, but only 56 bibliographies questions?
    – Caramdir
    Dec 8, 2010 at 20:50
  • @Caramdir: Good question. ;-) Seriously, once we have sorted out questions about cross-references, the tagging of the "bibliographic references" subject area could use further refinement, but I haven't made up my mind about it (yet).
    – lockstep
    Dec 8, 2010 at 21:15
  • While renaming and merging tags doesn't affect the front page, retagging a single question does. So perhaps let's modify concerned questions not all at once but distributed over some time.
    – Stefan Kottwitz Mod
    Dec 10, 2010 at 16:40
  • @Stefan: Removing the cross-referencing tag from nine questions all at once was acceptable IMO. Anything regarding the bibtex tag should be done over some time - except that I'll retag new bibtex questions to bibliographies in cases of doubt.
    – lockstep
    Dec 10, 2010 at 16:46
  • @lockstep: bibliographies tag wiki is created. I hope this helps to clarify further in using those tags.
    – Stefan Kottwitz Mod
    Dec 10, 2010 at 18:49
  • @Stefan: Looks good! Three suggestions: 1. I would not mention tocbibind because it is a package to include bibliographies, indexes etc. in the ToC, not to manage bibliographies. 2. Because of biblatex, the fourth sentence should read "In standard LaTeX, the command \bibliographystyle is used ..." 3. The comment about BibTeX should read "If your question is specifically about BibTeX (e.g. how to modify a bst-file), use the bibtex tag."
    – lockstep
    Dec 10, 2010 at 20:24
  • @Stefan: I have incorporated suggestions no. 1 (tocbibind) and no. 3 (BibTeX) into the tag wiki. Suggestion no. 2 ("In standard LateX[...]") seemed to esoteric for an introduction on second thought.
    – lockstep
    Jan 23, 2011 at 16:43

1 Answer 1


I agree that bibliography questions should not have a referencing tag. I think that restricting that tag to cross-referencing only (\label, \ref and variants) would be ok. Renaming the tag to cross-referencing would support that. The already existing cite tag (hm, I would like to rename that to citing) covers bibliographic referencing well enough.

Btw. I worried more about seeing reference book questions tagged this way, but fortunately I can see that such questions are well tagged with documentation, manual or books though sometimes carrying "reference" in the title.


As agreed, I changed referencing into cross-referencing since I'm sure this term is the better naming. You may compare Cross-reference vs. References in the Wikipedia.

Additionally, I've written a cross-referencing wiki entry which explains the tag, mentions the standard commands \label and \ref and further related packages with links, noting that questions about citing or bibliographies belong to the bibliographies tag.

Update 2: I created the bibliography tag wiki.

  • @Stefan: The cite tag should be also okay for bibliographic references, but bibliographies has far more questions tagged with it (and I don't see the need for two different tags). Perhaps we (e.g. Andrew Stacey ;-)) could create a bibliographies-citing tag?
    – lockstep
    Dec 8, 2010 at 18:38
  • @lockstep: Stefan has all the same powers as I do! @both: I see nothing wrong in this plan. Wherever there's ambiguity, it's good to rename tags to remove it and make it so that a user who doesn't know about the tags will easily select the right one when it gets suggested. Dec 8, 2010 at 18:51
  • @lockstep: If I've got a question to tag, I would choose citing for problems with \cite, \footcite, compression of references and the like, but for layout and generation of bibliographies the bibliographies tag. Such info could go into the tag wikis.
    – Stefan Kottwitz Mod
    Dec 8, 2010 at 19:18
  • @Stefan: Sometimes a distinction between citing and bibliographies may be warranted, but in practice many bibliography adjustments (e.g. author-year instead of numeric style) will also affect in-text-citations and vice versa. (Perhaps it's a bit like trying to differentiate between tikz- and pgf-related questions.)
    – lockstep
    Dec 8, 2010 at 20:23
  • 1
    Sometimes it would be useful to have a tag hierarchy (such that every citing question is automatically a bibliographies question, but not the other way round). In the absence of that, I think the 18 cite and 2 citations questions can be merged into bibliographies. Most of these questions are already tagged bibliographies or bibtex.
    – Caramdir
    Dec 8, 2010 at 20:56
  • Also, cite is a package so that tag could be reserved for questions about it. (Although it's a less widely used package nowadays with natbib and biblatex around.) Dec 9, 2010 at 7:28
  • 1
    @Will: The problem with using cite for a package is that it is ambiguous so a new user won't know that it is especially for that package. Where package names are also ordinary words, they should have an obvious package suffix, like cite-package. Dec 9, 2010 at 8:23
  • Now it's called cross-referencing together with a tag wiki entry, see my update notice above.
    – Stefan Kottwitz Mod
    Dec 10, 2010 at 16:25
  • Thank you. Small typo: “about these ore related commands” (I can't edit the tag wiki).
    – Caramdir
    Dec 10, 2010 at 16:38
  • @Caramdir: thanks, I corrected it.
    – Stefan Kottwitz Mod
    Dec 10, 2010 at 16:42
  • @Stefan: The tag wiki looks good. Is it meant to be the case that any question about source citations should get one of the bibliographies, bibtex, or biblatex tags, but need not get more than one? Dec 10, 2010 at 19:17
  • @Charles: good question! I left that open... but I think the specific bibtex or biblatex tag would be sufficient. bibliographies could mark more general bibliography question independent of the database tools - at least there's the "Related tags" list on the right which has its purpose. But a second or third tag probably doesn't hurt ... it's a general question regarding broader vs. specific tags.
    – Stefan Kottwitz Mod
    Dec 10, 2010 at 20:21
  • @Charles: I think so (and see Caramdir's comment about tag hierarchies). A fourth tag that is frequently used is natbib.
    – lockstep
    Dec 10, 2010 at 20:27
  • @Stefan: I retagged two question from cite to cite-package. Now, the cite and citations tags could be defined as aliases for bibliographies.
    – lockstep
    Dec 13, 2010 at 17:18
  • I did cursory skims of the 80 or so questions tagged with bibtex and only found two where the bibliographies tag seemed more appropriate.
    – lockstep
    Dec 13, 2010 at 17:28

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