LaTeX bibliography in Germanistic Linguistics

Intention of this page

This page is not a general introduction to LaTeX. To the contrary, it is intended for people who already know the basics of LaTeX and wish to write a Germanistics paper in LaTeX. In especial, the bibliography is tricky. Google does not help much because of its bias for English and Sciences.

The bibliography styles that are presented here all rely on Philipp Lehmann’s package biblatex.

Example files for downloading:

The bibliography style authoryear-icomp

A LaTeX file that uses the bibliography style authoryear-icomp looks as follows:








The command \usepackage[style=authoryear-icomp,maxnames=2,backend=biber,safeinputenc]{biblatex} loads the bibliography package biblatex with the settings authoryear-icomp and maxnames=2. The latter means that more than two names are abbreviated as «u. a.»; the former is a cryptical remark that means three things:

  1. The citation scheme author year.
  2. Repeated citations of the same work are abbreviated as «ebd.» as long as they are all on the same page and no other work is cited inbetween (i for ‘ibidem’).
  3. If there are several works of the same author(s) in the literature list, the name is only given in the first instance (comp für ‘compact’).

The following settings add more flexibility to the BIB file: backend=biber allows comments (and is highly recommendable anyway); safeinputenc allows signs from the tipa package, though it comes with the slight drawback that it disallows signs like „«‚‘»“ (just use "`<<\glq{}\grq{}>>"' instead).

The command \bibliography{bibliografie-datei} loads the bibliography from a file with the name bibliografie-datei.bib.

The command \printbibliography produces the literature list. If the overfull \hboxes become unbearable, consider \raggedright.

Additional tweaks to authoryear-icomp

With a number of additional tweaks, the bibliography style authoryear-icomp can be brought to better accordance with Prof. Dr. Elke Hentschel’s Empfehlungen zum Abfassen von schriftlichen Hausarbeiten. Insert the following code after the command \usepackage[style=authoryear-icomp,maxnames=2,backend=biber,safeinputenc]{biblatex} (alternatively, use biblatex.cfg):

  • Colon instead of comma in the citation, for instance «(Gaukeley 2005: S. 387)»:

  • No trailing «S.» before the page number in the citation, for instance «(Gaukeley 2005: 387)»:

  • Colon instead of stop before the title in the literature list, for instance «Gaukeley, Gundel (2005): Das kleine Einmaleins der Hexerei. [...]»:

  • If there is a series and number, put it in parenthesis and add an equals sign, for instance «[...] (= Schriftenreihe des Entenhausener Pfadfinderverbandes 13).»:

  • If there is an original publication date, add it in the bibliography, for instance «Duck, Tick u. a. (1966/2004): Ordens- und Abzeichenkunde für Fieselschweif‌linge. [...]» (thanks to Cite original year using biblatex):

  • If there is an original publication date, add it in the citation, for instance «(Duck u. a. 1966/2004: 37 f.)» (thanks to Cite original year using biblatex):

  • If there are several works by the same person(s), replace the dash by an abbreviation (like German ders./dies.):


    If in one of those additional works, the person(s) is/are editor(s), add a comma and space before the editor abbreviation:

        test \ifuseeditor
        not test {\ifnameundef{editor}}

    Note that this requires a specification of the author(s) gender and number in the BIB file. Otherwise, the bibliography will invariably use the abbreviation «ders.» if there are several works by the same author(s), instead of the correct «dies.» for a feminine author or for plural authors, or the correct «dass.» for a neuter author (if any). The specification is: gender={sf}, for a ‘single female’ author, sn for a ‘single neuter’ author, and pp for ‘plural’ authors. An entry in the BIB file will look as follows:

      editor={Dorette Duck and Daniel Düsentrieb},
      title={Ente, Natur und Technik},
      subtitle={Philosophische Traktate},
      address={Entenhausen and Quakenbrück},

Additional LaTeX documentation


Other packages that are useful for Linguistics:

  • tipaman.pdf – TIPA, a package for phonetic signs
  • philexmanual.pdf – philex, a packet for numbered example sentences (do not load it before TIPA!)
  • xyli-doc.pdf – xyling, a complicated, but very flexible package for producing linguistic tree diagrams

All these documents can be found on any computer where LaTeX has installed by means of the common TeX Live distribution.