Things to keep in mind when working with fields in Bookends

Bookends’ entries (references) consist of a number of fields containing information about an article, book, chapter or other work, such as its title, its author, its location in an encompassing work, and the date of publication. The user knows what type of content a field is supposed to contain because the fields are informatively labeled (‘Title’, ‘Author’, ‘Journal’, ‘Volume’, ‘Pages’, ‘Date’, etc.). These labels allow you to fill in and understand the entries without knowing anything about the inner workings of the program.

This works fine as long as you do not fiddle with the predefined labels, reference types and output formats.

However, things get complicated if you want to change or add labels, reference types, output formats or import filters. You might, for example, want to add a field with information about the location of works you own (‘Office’, ‘Home’, ‘Kindle’, ‘iBooks’, etc.). You might, for another example, need a reference type for unpublished articles. You might, for yet another example, want to tweak a reference type because your publisher expects a bibliography in a format that is not supplied as a Bookends format.

Field names & field labels

In those cases you should be aware that, internally, Bookends never refers to fields by their labels. It does not use commands like ‘store the text entered by the user in the entry field labeled “Title” in the reference field labeled “Title” of reference #56’ or ‘output the contents of the reference field labeled “Title” of reference #56’.

Instead, Bookends refers, internally, to fields by means of names that remain hidden to the user. It uses commands like ‘store the text entered by the user in entry field #1 in the reference field named “title” of reference #56’ or ‘output the contents of the reference field named “title” of reference #56’.

A field’s label depends not only on its name, but also on the type of the reference (Journal article, Book Chapter, Book, Edited Book, etc.). This means that fields with the same name may have different labels in different reference types. For example, the journal field is by default labeled ‘Ser titel’ in references of type Artwork, Audiovisual material, Book, Book Chapter, Edited Book, and Internet; ‘Conf Name’ in references of type Conference Proceedings; ‘Dept’ in references of type Dissertation; ‘Newspaper’ in references of type Newspaper article; and ‘Journal’ in most other reference types (including Journal article and Personal Communication).

These labels are specified by means of Field Label lists in Bookends’ preferences (Preferences → Refs → Field Labels) and can be changed by the user. As Bookends does not use these labels, changing the label of a field doesn’t change the way in which Bookends uses it.

The Field Label lists list the labels of 34 fields in the following order: authors, title, editors, journal, volume, pages, thedate, publisher, location, url, title2, user1, user2, abstract, keywords, notes, user3 … user20 (the first label is the label of the field named ‘authors’, the second label that of the field named ‘title’, and so on).

Bookend’s preferences (and, hence, the field labels) are stored in a user specific folder. So, the labels may differ from computer to computer and from user to user, even when everyone uses the same libraries.

Fields in the user guide

Confusingly, Bookends’ user guide standardly refers to field labels as “names”.

Bookends’ user guide characterizes fields in term of their labels by substituting the field name for a label, apparently in an attempt not to bother the user with the inner workings of the program. For example, it refers to the user17 field as ‘DOI field’ (‘DOI’ is the default label of the user17 field in all reference types). Because labels can be changed this means that ‘DOI field’ does not necessarily refer to the field labeled ‘DOI’. Rather it refers to the field that is by default labeled ‘DOI’.

Fields in the library window

The columns in the reference list of the main library window are labeled with the label in the Journal article reference type of the field shown in the column. This label may not adequately characterize the contents of that field in other reference types. For example, the column titled ‘Journal’ by default shows the contents of the journal field. Depending on the reference type this can be the name of the journal or newspaper in which an article was published, the title of the series in which a book appeared, the name of a conference where a paper was presented, or the department for which a thesis was submitted. Because the field labels can be changed, it is not guaranteed that the column titled ‘Journal’ shows the journal column, nor that the column showing the journal field is titled ‘Journal’.

Fields in output formats

The way in which Bookends formats bibliographies depends on the output format and can be specified in the ‘Bibliography Options’ tab of the Formats Manager (Biblio→Format Manage…).

The ‘Field Order’ field specifies the fields to be included in the output, their order, the interpunction and the font style (italics, bold, etc.). Each type of reference has its own field order specification. This field order specification uses single-letter codes that, according to the user guide, represent “categories”. You can enter the codes from the keyboard or by choosing a description from a “Fields” list. There are 42 categories, most of them are related to one of the 34 reference fields mentioned above. The “Fields” list refers to the fields by their label, but the codes are used to identify the fields by their name.

User-defined fields

If you think (as I initially did) that the so-called ‘user-defined’ fields (user1 … user20) can be used for any purpose you want, you are wrong.

Most user-defined fields have by default meaningful labels (in one or more reference types) and Bookends’ predefined input filters and output formats treat these fields in accordance with that default label (in the relevant reference types). The user17 field, for example, is by default labeled ‘DOI’ (in all reference types) and Bookends’ predefined input filters and output formats treat this field (in all reference types) as if it contains a DOI, no matter how you choose to use it.

Moreover, several user-defined fields are part of Bookends’ fixed functionality (functionality that cannot be changed by the user). The user17 field, for example, is used for actions such as ‘Get DOI’ and ‘Look Up Article from DOI’.

If you would use the user17 field to note down the location of your books, all sorts of strange things will happen: ‘Look Up Article from DOI’ will generate unexpected errors, ‘Get DOI’ will replace the location by a DOI, import filters will place DOIs in the location field, output formats will output locations where a DOI is expected, and so on.

In fact, there are only two fields that are not used by Bookends or its predefined filters and formats: user15 and user20.


An overview of field names, relevant category codes, typical default labels, and supposed content in the order in which they appear in Bookends’ Field Label lists.

Name Code Labels Intended use
1 authors a Authors Each author is placed on a separate line, entered as: Surname, First name(s) or Initials.
2 title t Title The title of an article (Journal), chapter (Edited Book) or book (Book). The type of case (sentence case or title case) in a generated output is determined by the output format. Put a comma after the title if you want to output the case as entered, independent of the format.
3 editors e Editors \ Ser Editors The editors of an Edited Book or of the series in which a Book appears. Editor names are entered just like author names.
4 journal f Journal \ Newspaper \ Ser Title \ Conf Name \ Dept The name of the journal or magazine in which the article appeared, the title of the series in which the book appeared (Book, Edited Book), the name of the conference where the paper was presented (Proceedings), or the Department where the thesis was submitted (Dissertation).
5 volume v(i) Volume (Issue) \ Book Title \ Volume \ Section \ Degree The volume number of the journal or magazine in which an article appeared, optionally followed by the issue number between parentheses, e.g. ‘267(10)’, the title of an Edited Book, the Section of a Newspaper in which an article appeared, or the degree for which a thesis was submitted.
6 pages p- Pages The page number of the first page of an article (e.g. ‘6’), or a range of page numbers (e.g. ‘6-12’). The way in which ranges are handled is determined by the output format (p outputs the first page, p- the range). Put a comma after a range, if you want to output the range as entered, independent of the format.
7 thedate d Date \ Year Date of publication. Dates are often truncated to just the year (defined in the format you use). Placing a comma at the end of the thedate field will cause Bookends to output it as entered, independent of the format.
8 publisher u Publisher \ University The name of the publisher of a book, or the university where a thesis was submitted.
9 location l Address \ City The city where the publisher is located (Book, Book Chapter) or the address of the author (other types). When importing references from PubMed, the address of the authors (if provided) is placed in this field.
10 url z URL Web addresses, URLs, and e-mail addresses that can be used to get information, download copies, obtain reprints, contact the authors, discuss the work and so on, separated by returns.
11 title2 s Short Title An alternative title of the work in the journal field.
12 user1 u1 User1 / Key When using BibTex, Bookends expects a unique BibTex Key in this field.
13 user2 u2 Edition The edition number, such as “1st”, “2nd”, “Fifth”, etc., as you would want it to appear in the bibliography; the type of thesis, work, or communication.
14 abstract b Abstract A summary of the referent’s contents.
15 keywords k Keywords Keywords, separated by returns.
16 notes n Notes Comments, observations, etc.
17 user3 u3 Translator The translator of the referent (by default labeled ‘Contents’ in Artwork, ‘Mon & Day’ in Proceedings, Newspaper article and Personal communication, and ‘Access’n #’ in Map).
18 user4 u4 User4 This field is by default labeled ‘Material’ in Audiovisual material and ‘Access’n #’ in Dissertation.
19 user5 u5 Call Num Call number.
20 user6 u6 ISSN/ISBN International Serial Standard Number/International Standard Book Number
21 user7 u7 Language English, French, Japanese, etc.
22 user8 u8 Ser Editors The series editors of a series in which the Edited Book appeared.
23 user9 u9 Trans Author If the author’s name is in a non-Roman language (e.g. Chinese), you can use this field to enter the translated name.
24 user10 u10 Trans Title If the title is in a non-Roman language (e.g. Chinese), you can use this field to enter the translated title.
25 user11 u11 Orig Pub For a republished work, you would put information about the original publication here (e.g. publication date, place, publisher).
26 user12 u12 Repr Edition If the work was originally published under a different title, you can place the original title and year in this field.
27 user13 u13 # of Vols The number of volumes in a multiple volume work.
28 user14 u14 Volume # In a multiple volume work, the number of the volume being cited.
29 user15 u15 User15
30 user16 u16 PMCID PubMed Central ID (used by several functions).
31 user17 u17 DOI Digital Object Identifier (used by the ‘get DOI’ and ‘Look Up article from DOI’ functions).
32 user18 u18 PMID PubMed ID (used by several functions).
33 user19 u19 Medium The physical nature of the referent (e.g. Print, Web, DVD, etc.).
34 user20 u20 User20