Some quick notes while I was trying out biblatex as well as .bib files for the first time. Mostly writing this down because I was having some trouble with getting it to work. These are definitely going to be no brainers for most people out there, but you never know if it helps anyone.

First off you are going to need to make a .bib file with references so you can try out things. There are better references for that out on the internet, so I will just say this: go and google the format! Here is an example for completeness sake. The subject of the example is based on an example in the slides of Bart de Boer for the class “Methods of Scientific Research” at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

@book{abookcitation,
author = "Bart de Boer",
title  = "The origins of vowel systems",
year   = "2001",
publisher = "Oxford University Press",
}


As you can tell, it is all pretty straightforward. The one thing that I missed at first is that you cannot forget to name the entry. Here I called it abookcitation. For different types of media and the attributes you can use for each, see documentation of biblatex or bibtex.

Now with that file saved, you need a LaTeX document. Here is a minimal example.

\documentclass[a4paper,11pt]{article}

\usepackage[backend=biber]{biblatex}

\begin{document}

Blabla \cite{abookcitation}

\printbibliography

\end{document}


Step one is loading in the biblatex package, obviously. I also added biber as a backend option since my terminal spewed out errors if I did not (and I will be using biber as my backend anyway). Next is adding the .bib resource file. Notice that you do need the extension mentioned in it when writing down the file name. Lastly you need to tell biblatex where you want the bibliography printed. There is one important thing to still mention: you need to cite every resource you want to appear in the bibliography, otherwise they will not show up. If you do not want to literally cite something in a text, you can use \nocite{refname} as an alternative that will make the resource appear in the bibliography without having it show up somewhere in your running text.

With the basic files set up, we can go on to compiling the document. I will assume that you saved the .bib file as bibstuff.bib and the main document as bibstuff.tex. Simply open a terminal and run the following commands.

pdflatex bibstuff
biber bibstuff
pdflatex bibstuff


That should give you your document, with bibliography. Good luck with the bigger work.