2011 December 1
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:
References to ArXiV preprints don’t have their identifiers displayed.
Entries with DOI information don’t use this to link to the referenced articles.
Some BibTeX entries end their page numbers with a plus sign, and these get propagated into the bibliography and look bad.
(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
To summarize, why should you use yahapj?
Attractive, ApJ-compliant bibliographies with embedded links to digital articles and preprints whenever possible.
It’s easy to check that you’re using the latest, greatest version, and as easy to hack the file as you can get. (Which isn’t super-easy given BibTeX’s bizarre style language, but that’s another issue.)
I’ve even got a screenshot!
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.