Introducing: yahapj

Ready for some esoteric software?

Lots of astronomers write articles for submission to The Astrophysical Journal (“ApJ”) using LaTeX for manuscript preparation and the companion BibTeX for automated bibliography processing. One uses a “style file” to tell BibTeX how to format the bibliography according to ApJ specifications. The American Astronomical Society and NASA Astrophysics Data Systems provide such a style file, currently found here, but it has a few shortcomings:

(OK, the second two problems are pretty much cosmetic. The first one is significant, though.) Various people have fixed some of these problems, but there’s no canonical source of the ApJ style file, so things get out of sync. (For instance, AAS and NASA ADS currently post differing versions of the style file.)

Well, you can see where this is going. I’ve created a hacked version of the style file called yahapj.bst — “Yet Another (h)ApJ BibTeX Style”. It fixes the above problems, and I’ve attempted to solve the splintering issue by managing revisions on GitHub, here: github.com/pkgw/yahapj. The key benefit is that if people share their changes by cloning the Git repository and making commits, it will always be possible to compare the lineages of different versions of the file and merge them safely. Overkill? Perhaps. But it’s the correct solution.

To summarize, why should you use yahapj?

I’ve even got a screenshot!

yahapj in action!
yahapj in action!

The blue parts are links in the PDF file. If you’re about to say something about journal abbreviations, I know, and it’s beyond the control of yahapj.