I want to cite a journal itself, not an article in it, the publication. I think the same would hold for a magazine, not an issue of that magazine. The specific citation information will be enough.

Bonus points for showing how to set this citation information with biber and biblatex, so it displays properly formatted.

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    Can you give some context about what you want to do? Normally, the purpose of a citation is to credit the authors of a particular piece of research, or to provide support for a particular assertion. In either case, you would be pointing to a specific article. So it's hard for me to imagine a case where it would actually be correct to cite a journal. But if you would explain why you want to do this, you might get better answers. Maybe you'll find that you want to handle it some other way. Apr 16, 2018 at 15:54
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    Why do you want to do this? I usually want people to be a specific with their citations as possible (i.e. specifying a page, section, or numbered statement). Citing an entire journal seems like it conveys too little information to me.
    – Thomas
    Apr 16, 2018 at 16:23
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    @user2768: Only the side questions fits on TeX - LaTeX and even for this, I would argue that it is on-topic here.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Apr 16, 2018 at 18:18
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    @user2768: Citation style about conventions how to write something. BibTeX is just a technical means to ease adhering to such a convention. The first question is independent of what software you use.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Apr 17, 2018 at 9:21
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    @Wrzlprmft & user2768 Thanks so much for the help. I think wrzlprmft is correctly intuiting what I'm trying to ask. I want to know the general information one would like to capture in a bibliography entry for a journal or magazine itself. cactus_pardner is I think collecting the sorts of things I'd want to use it for. Bonus points for showing me exactly /how/ to do it, but for conveying the exact information I want is enough, I could add my own biblatex/biber entry, and create my own style. Apr 17, 2018 at 12:23

2 Answers 2


There are certainly interesting kinds of research where you would do this, such as bibliometrics, meta-analyses, history of science, intellectual history, or a subject bibliography.

The APA style blog opines that you would not need to make the actual citation for a meta-analysis: rather, you would simply mention the names of the journals (and the time periods you survey) in the text.

However, let's say you're looking at periodicals that are hard to locate today. Then a citation should help the readers find them. If they all came from the same database or archive, then perhaps it would make sense to cite that database or archive itself in the bibliography, with a mention or footnote about which journals were in which database or archive. Here's a page showing how to cite a collection of institutional records.

Or, if you're doing more of an intellectual history, you may be able to mark the beginning of each journal by citing the opening editor's note.

Then again, JSTOR allows people to download some journal information for research purposes. JSTOR's metadata fields for journals are journal-id (along with an identifier of who assigned this unique id), ISSN (possibly more than one if it changed over time), journal title (as of the time period you are discussing), and the publisher (as of the time period you are discussing).

Again, if you're doing a meta-analysis, the journals are part of the methodology but you probably don't need to fully cite them if they are current, modern journals. If you're doing more of a history or a source bibliography, then you might just have a long "bibliographic note" appendix describing the journals, including where to access each and a history of changes to the names and publishers.

If all else fails, this is quite an ad-hoc citation, but you might try to find (or build) a reference type that uses the following:

Title: journal title

Publisher: publisher (might use organization field for this if there is no publisher field)

Organization: organization creating the journal (if available)

Address: city of publisher

Identifier number: ISSN (if available)

Year: Span of years

Archive: (database or archive info)

Location in archive: URL, shelf number, etc.

Note: How often is/was the periodical published; anything about disruptions to the run.

Update: If the otherwise best format requires an author/editor, you could use the name of the organization that created the journal, which is often promoted to "author" in the absence of a single author or editor. If that is not applicable, you might be able to use the name of chief journal editor(s). You would want to make a note somewhere that you chose to record the information (editor, publisher, journal title, association, etc.) as of X date (journal founding, first issue in your time period, last issue in your time period, as of a given date across all the journals you're looking at).

Mendeley's Ultimate Citation Cheat Sheet might help you figure out desired formatting for your substituted-in components in the style you're using. It covers MLA8, APA, and Harvard, and if you're using a different style that might help you abstract the principles to that other style, if there is not sufficient documentation on that style's principles.


BibTeX doesn't appear to define an entry that captures a journal (unlike a proceedings, which is captured by proceedings), it does provide:

    A book with an explicit publisher.
    Required fields: author/editor, title, publisher, year
    Optional fields: volume/number, series, address, edition, month, note, 
                     key, url

    A work that is printed and bound, but without a named publisher or 
    sponsoring institution.
    Required fields: title
    Optional fields: author, howpublished, address, month, year, note, key

I'd suggest using book and listing the title as the journal.

The question's title and description are somewhat distinct, in particular, the title broadly asks How should one cite the entirety of a journal?, whereas the description asks how to cite the entirety of a journal using bibtex. I provide an answer to the latter.

  • Do you mean title as the journal name? (The publisher is presumably the publisher...) Myself, I'd consider using the misc entry type.
    – Anyon
    Apr 17, 2018 at 15:33
  • @Anyon, you're right about the journal name, I edited.
    – user2768
    Apr 17, 2018 at 15:39
  • @user2768, I think I've modified it to better reflect what I was hoping to get across. But please suggest further edits if this is still vague or ambiguous, or if my edits undermined your changes. Thanks! Apr 17, 2018 at 18:16
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    Honestly, in most cases I would honestly probably use the book notation. I would see how I could shoehorn in a range of years, rather than one year, and possibly a range of volume numbers. (For my dissertation, a wonderful friend who works for a university press helped me kludge together the bibtex to include and format a few citations with necessary fields that the required style did not allow for.) Apr 17, 2018 at 18:45
  • @cactus_pardner You'd probably be using a single year, since that's the year of publication, rather than the years covered by the journal.
    – user2768
    Apr 18, 2018 at 7:06

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