sorry to disturb you. I am trying to migrate all the workflow of writing tex files and managing citations into emacs but I'm completely lost by the overwhelmed plethora of packages and I'm not sure what is their purpose or if more than one of those are doing the same thing or have the same functionality.

Could someone please describe their difference and functionalities. Are some of those dependencies of others in the list below. In other words what are the main ones that come with eamcs installation and what are those that built on top of those basic bundled packages?

helm-bibtex, org-ref, org-bibtex, auctex, reftex, bibtex, Ebib

BTW, if anyone knows of any descent package that can take a directory of pdfs and extract and create .bib file automatically please let me know.

So far there's an option in org-ref for this but fails whenever there's no doi in the pdf.

It seems that tools such as mendeley or zotero are more robust in this aspect. 90% of the time they get it right.

Does anyone know how they work behind the scenes and maybe we can port that functionality a.k.a robustness into emacs.

1 Answer 1


Partial answer:

  1. auctex (not bundled with emacs) is the definitive package for writing and compiling LaTeX documents. It is truly excellent and can be installed from ELPA easily.
  2. reftex (also bundled with emacs) is for creating and referring to all kinds of labels and citations in those documents. It insinuates well into auctex and is equally awesome.
  3. bibtex (bundled with emacs) provides a mode for managing bibtex files, in particular, for creating bibtex entries by hand. Does anyone do this any more?

The first two, along with cdlatex, make emacs the best environment I have ever used for writing papers. The remaining packages you ask about, I am not so familiar with. Perhaps someone else can chime in?

  • Thank your for the answer. +1 for cdlatex
    – Kirk Walla
    Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 22:20

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