Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am trying to compile a bibliography that is externally linked but I get back an error saying

I couldn't open file name firstbibtex.aux

Here is the referencing code:

    author = "George D. Greenwade",
    title = "The {C}omprehensive {T}ex {A}rchive {N}etwork ( {CTAN} )",
    year = "1993",
    journal = "TUGBoat",
    volume = "14",
    number = "3",
    pages = "342--351"

    author = "Michel Goossens and Frank Mittleback and Alexander Smarin",
    title = "The Latex Companion",
    year = "1993",
    publisher = "Addison-Wesley",
    address = "Reading, Massachusetts"

Here is the tex file:


    hello world!\cite{greenwade93} and then someone said good night world! \cite{goossens93}


This is based on this tutorial.

The names of the files are firstindex.bib and untitled.tex(note: the .tex is not fliename)

They have been complied using the pdftex and TEX and DVI via TexShop on mac. They have also been complied using the following on the command line

latex firstindex 
bibtex firstindex
latex firstindex
latex firstindex
share|improve this question
How are your files named? Please edit and add this to the question. Also, which files are currently in your folder? Which tools are you using to compile? Or which commands are you using? – slhck Aug 4 '11 at 12:31
Have you compiled the document before running bibtex so that there exists an .aux file? – N.N. Aug 5 '11 at 20:16
N.N: yes it was complied before slhck: hope this helps thank you both for your reply. sorry about my late reply – sebey Aug 6 '11 at 10:44
You need to mention users with @slhck to have them get a notification. – slhck Aug 6 '11 at 10:53
@slhck >) thanks for that. didn't know that they added that. – sebey Aug 6 '11 at 10:56
up vote 1 down vote accepted

The names of the files are firstindex.bib and untitled.tex

Then that's where your problem is. The name of the bibliography file. firstbibtex.bib is only used internally and since it is referenced from your .tex file already, you don't need to specify it anymore.

If your file is called untitled.tex, you need to typeset it with:

latex untitled.tex

This will create the auxfile needed for BibTeX, called untitled.aux. It tells BibTeX where to look for the references (there should be something like \bibdata{firstbibtex} in it). Then you can call:

bibtex untitled.aux

Then, typeset the document again:

latex untitled.tex
latex untitled.tex

And you're done.

share|improve this answer
thank you so much – sebey Aug 6 '11 at 11:44

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.