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Exporting a Word Library to LaTeX/BibTex

Writing a thesis is fun. But you want to minimize the risks that might force you to start over. One of which is the choice of tool. I am a fan of MS Word and started writing it there. But apparently I am facing it’s limits…

My thesis currently has around 100 pages, yet a few chapters to come. It is constructed through several different documents that are included into one. All that worked fine so far, but I started noticing some hick-ups. The creation of the complete document and its indexes takes longer and longer. And one time, the structure messed up and I had to rework the master document.

Finishing my thesis with word is surely possible. But I don’t want to risk troubles. I therefore began having a look at Latex. Seems legit. It’s always good to have options.

Now, I have to confess, that I never worked with Latex until recently. Converting my Word-documents into Latex-files took some effort. The main problem for me was the library of my references. I handled the sources of my work in Word. There are probably better solutions, but it’s easy to use and provides everything I need.
Except for an export feature…

No way I would create all the entries manually for my Latex bibliography. Instead I wrote a stylesheet that makes Word create a bibliography in BibTex format (Details regarding the Bibliography Management). Now I can simply copy and paste my library from one system to the other. The only problem is, that the library is full of characters that have to be escaped in Latex. Because I didn’t want to do that manually either, I created a script for that, too.
Here’s how you can export your MS Word sources and references and import them to a BibTex library:

  1. Download this stylesheet: Word2Bibtex
  2. Save it here: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\Bibliography\Style
  3. Start Word and change the style of your bibliography to “Bibtex Export”.
  4. Copy the bibliography that word creates for you.
  5. Substitute the special characters using this script: The Substitutor
  6. Use the result for your BibTex library.
  7. Done.

I hope it helps you, as it helped me. Find both also on my stuff-page.

Published inArtefactsEnglish


  1. Wolfe

    Thanks! This worked great!

  2. Lacey

    What if the style isn’t loading into Word? Is there any way to force Word to recognize the new file in the folder?

  3. […] To convert a Word Bibliography file into a LaTex bib file, use the neat Word2Bibtex tool. Download the bibtex.xsl file and follow the directions. Note: the tool will only work if you […]

  4. I was able to find the style folder on Windows 10, Office 2016, in: C:Program Files (x86)Microsoft OfficerootOffice16BibliographyStyle

    However, closing and re-opening word did not make the style “bibtex” show up in my “Style” list.

  5. Truepharaoh

    Same here. BibTex did not show in Style list.

  6. Blop

    If you are looking for the right path in Word package for OSX, it is

    • Toni

      Hello, I saved the file here:
      and Bibtex does not appear in the style list. I would appreciate a suggestiong. Thanks

  7. Maram

    This is a very helpful post. Thanks!!

  8. Paulo

    Thank you!!!

    It works perfectly!

    Amanzing job! Congrats.

  9. I wish I could use it like you Maram . When tried
    “The file is not in supported formats ” displayed in the frame on the screen. I really need help for my next attempts. Thank you …

  10. Kay

    This was super helpful…. thank you a million times. my stress levels just went down after the import into Zotero was successful

  11. Hi, I followed the steps but “bibtex export” does not appear in my styles list. Do you have any idea why that might be?

  12. Jessica Winter-Stoltzman

    same problem- I found the folder where the other styles are saved (Chicago, MLA, APA, etc.) but adding bibtex here did not make bibtex show up in my styles list.

  13. vini

    use the bibtex file from github

  14. Grass

    The location provided in the instructions did not work for Office 2016, instead it should be copied here:

  15. It doesn’t show up in that folder for me. The problem may be with how the Microsoft data is being accessed externally. Compare the CHICAGO stylesheet file with the bibtex stylesheet and you’ll see the external references are different. There is a tag used in the CHICAGO xml file. I don’t have time to figure out the differences and fix the file. It may just be easier to retype some of my existing references.

  16. Isadora

    Here’s how to get it to recognize (for troubleshooting between steps 2 and 3)
    Make sure Word is closed.
    Go to the Roaming folder path where Style is (will be different depending on you OS version), and copy one of the existing styles (say, CHICAGO).
    Open the bibtex.xls in notepad and SELECT ALL->COPY the data. I copied the xsl from github ( just because it’s the most recently handled.
    Then, open the duplicated xsl (e.g. CHICAGO – Copy.xsl), SELECT ALL-> PASTE to replace all the bibtex format data. Save and rename to bibtex.xsl so you don’t lose track of which file was transformed. Open Word, you will find Bibtex Export now listed. Continue with steps 4 etc.

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