sortbib - sort a bibliographic database
sortbib [-s KEYS] database...
sortbib sorts files of records containing refer key-letters by user-specified keys. Records may be separated by blank lines, or by ‘.[’ and ‘.]’ delimiters, but the two styles may not be mixed together. This program reads through each database and pulls out key fields, which are sorted separately. The sorted key fields contain the file pointer, byte offset, and length of corresponding records. These records are delivered using disk seeks and reads, so sortbib may not be used in a pipeline to read standard input.
The most common key-letters and their meanings are given below.
Book containing article referenced
City (place of publication)
Date of publication
Editor of book containing article referenced
Footnote number or label (supplied by refer)
Government order number
Header commentary, printed before reference
Journal containing article
Keywords to use in locating reference
Label field used by –k option of refer
Bell Labs Memorandum (undefined)
Number within volume
Other commentary, printed at end of reference
Corporate or Foreign Author (unreversed)
Report, paper, or thesis (unpublished)
Title of article or book
Abstract — used by roffbib, not by refer
Ignored by refer
By default, sortbib alphabetizes by the first %A and the %D fields, which contain the senior author and date.
sortbib sorts on the last word on the %A line, which is assumed to be the author's last name. A word in the final position, such as ‘jr.’ or ‘ed.’, will be ignored if the name beforehand ends with a comma. Authors with two-word last names or unusual constructions can be sorted correctly by using the nroff convention ‘\0’ in place of a blank. A %Q field is considered to be the same as %A, except sorting begins with the first, not the last, word. sortbib sorts on the last word of the %D line, usually the year. It also ignores leading articles (like ‘A’ or ‘The’) when sorting by titles in the %T or %J fields; it will ignore articles of any modern European language. If a sort-significant field is absent from a record, sortbib places that record before other records containing that field.
No more than 16 databases may be sorted together at one time. Records longer than 4096 characters will be truncated.
Specify new KEYS. For instance, – sATD will sort by author, title, and date, while –sA+D will sort by all authors, and date. Sort keys past the fourth are not meaningful.
See attributes(7) for descriptions of the following attributes:
Records with missing author fields should probably be sorted by title.