Trailing comma in IEEEXplore BibTeX

This entry was posted by on Friday, 28 September, 2012 at

As a frequent user of the IEEEXplore database to search for literature concerning wireless networking, I often export a citation to BibTeX for use in my papers.

One of the things which has puzzled me for a long time, is why the BibTeX exporter adds a trailing comma after the last field.

For example, here’s the BibTeX for Bianchi’s foundational paper on modelling IEEE 802.11 CSMA/CA behaviour:

    author={Bianchi, G.},
    journal={Communications Letters, IEEE}, title={IEEE 802.11-saturation    throughput analysis},
    month={dec. },
    pages={318 -320},
    keywords={802.11 protocol;CSMA/CA medium access control protocol;IEEE 802.11;analytical model;exponential backoff;ideal channel conditions;performance;request-to-send/clear-to-send;saturation throughput analysis;simulation results;standard;standardisation;terminals;wireless data communications;wireless local area networks;IEEE standards;carrier sense multiple access;data communication;performance evaluation;telecommunication standards;wireless LAN;},

The structure of BibTeX is rather simple (see also this article on wikipedia):

    [entry1 = value1],
    [entry2 = value2]

Between the braces { } there’s a comma-delimited list. When stored in a database I can understand it is easiest to output the following php:

echo $entry.",\n";

in a foreach-manner, however the trailing comma could have been removed more elegantly, because BibTeX, Version 0.99c (TeX Live 2009/Debian) complains about it. And then you have to manually remove the trailing comma…

So I’m wondering, is it just me or is this a bug in the IEEEXplore?
(and besides, what’s with the “journal” and “title” entries appearing on the same line?)

2 Responses to “Trailing comma in IEEEXplore BibTeX”

  1. Another update, Springer Link delivers correct BibTeX on their new-and-improved site at

  2. Update: ACM has the same behaviour, appending a comma to the final entry. However, ACM does not put journal and title on the same line. For a standard which has not changed since 1988 it is odd such sloppiness in implementation is still around…

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