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Biblatex and arXiv: A Simple Workaround

I’ve written before on using arXiv (see why I post to it and watching out for posting delays) and I rely on it to share preprints for most of my work. It’s usually fairly easy to share a paper by uploading the LaTeX source files. But recently I hit a snag due a conflict between a journal’s requirements, arXiv’s backend, and the LaTeX install on my own machine. I wasted probably a couple of hours on trying to identify the problem (mostly tied to the biblatex package) and get a clean solution, but in the end I did the simplest thing I could think of and wanted to share it here.

A brief summary:

Problem: I needed to use the biblatex package to properly format my references for IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering (TBME). biblatex is very finicky with version numbers and it was recently updated. arXiv won’t compile a source whose bbl file (i.e., reference list) was generated from a different version than its system.

Solution: Disable use of biblatex in the version uploaded to arXiv, since they don’t have TBME’s formatting requirements.

For more rambling about how I stumbled into this problem, read on …

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