Processing your documents

Once you have finished writing your document (or at least a first draft), you want to create a printable or online version with the formatted citations and bibliographies. This section explains how to do this conveniently with the Makefiles generated by refdbnd.

Makefile targets

As mentioned previously, refdbnd creates a custom-tailored Makefile along with every new document. This Makefile offers the following main targets to process your document:


This target generates a PDF file from your source document. PDF is a widely accepted document format with free viewers for essentially all current operating systems.


This runs all required commands to create HTML output, viewable with any web browser. Depending on your local setup, the output will be chunked into a collection of HTML files.


This target generates a Rich Text Format (RTF) file. This plain text format is sort of a word processor interchange format understood by most current word processors, including MS Word, WordPerfect, and OpenOffice/StarOffice.


This target is only available for SGML documents. It will create a Postscript document from your source. Postscript is the universal document format on Unix systems and can be printed directly on Postscript printers. Viewers are available for all current operating systems.

The Makefile also offers a few more targets. For each of the above targets there is a corresponding '<target>dist' target which creates a .tar.gz archive of the output document. The target 'all', which is also the default if you don't specify a target to make, builds all available output formats. Accordingly, the target 'dist' creates all archives. And finally, the target 'clean' removes all intermediate files and returns your directory to the original state.

Using the Makefile is simple. For example, to turn your document into a PDF file, just run:

~$ make pdf

The Makefile tests whether any of the intermediate files is outdated and re-creates them if required. For example, if you run make pdfdist after the previous command, make will only run the command to create the archive; it will not go through the whole processing procedure for the PDF document again. However, if you edit the document source and then run make pdfdist again, it will first bring the PDF output document up to date and then create the archive.

Customizing your Makefile

There are a few cases when you might want to modify the refdbnd-generated Makefile. As a Makefile is but plain text you can use any text editor to customize it. The first case is quite common in the life cycle of a scientific publication: You've nicely formatted your document for journal 'A', but it was rejected and you have to submit it to journal 'B' (with any number of possible reiterations). In order to re-create the formatted document using a different citation and bibliography style, use the following procedure:

  1. Remove all intermediate files:

    ~$ make clean
  2. Modify your Makefile. Edit the line that sets the variable style and specify the new bibliography style.

  3. Transform your document again. E.g. if you want to get a PDF version using the new bibliography style, just run:

    ~$ make pdf

The second good reason to customize your Makefile is to get additional files into your .tar.gz archives. If your document includes images or should be accompanied by a README file, you can let make include them into the archive as well. All you need to do is to extend the file list of the appropriate tar commands.