In the previous part of this blog series, useful LaTeX packages, commands and hacks were introduced. The next step is adding a nomenclature which contains all acronyms, symbols and notations of the document. This can be done, for example, by reviewing the final document and manually creating and inserting a table. The disadvantage of this manual approach is that if an abbreviation or symbol has to be changed, it has to be changed manually everywhere in the entire document, potentially leading to one or two cases that are missed. Furthermore, acronyms have to be defined with their first use. Going back and forth through the document and constantly enhancing the content, the place of the first use can change and one might forget to adjust the definition of the abbreviation. Either way, creating a nomenclature manually requires an author to keep one more thing in mind, when all that the author should actually care about, is the content of the thesis.

In this blog post, an automatic approach for integrating a nomenclature in a LaTeX thesis will be introduced. The approach uses the packages bib2gls and glossaries-extra and consists of two main steps:

  1. The acronyms are stored in a bib file. This bib file will be translated to a glstex file in which all acronyms, notations and symbols are listed and sorted by the bib2gls package
  2. The glossaries-extra package will use the glstex file and compile a nomenclature

In the following, the two steps will be explained in more detail and a zipped version of the project can be downloaded here, which results in the following pdf:


  1. In order for bib2gls to work as intended, Java must be installed, which can be downloaded here.
  2. Install bib2gls via MikTeX Console: Open MikTeX Console > Packages > Search for bib2gls > right click > install.
  3. In order to run bib2gls from TeXstudio, a user defined tool needs to be set: Preferences > Build > add the following in the lower part of the window: path/to/bib2gls.exe % and give it a name (e.g., “bib2gls”). You should see the the user defined tool in: Tools > User.

Preparing the bib files for bib2gls

Since the acronyms, notations and symbols are stored in bib files, there are three new files in the source folder of the LaTeX project defined in the first part of this blog series:

│   main.tex
│   refs.bib     
│   │   introduction.tex
│   │   results.tex
│   │   conclusions.tex
│   │   appendix.tex
│   │   acronyms.bib % new: bib file with acronyms
│   │   notations.bib % new: bib file with notations
│   │   symbols.bib % new: bib file with symbols
│   │   jamesWebb.png

The bib file acronyms.bib looks as follows:

	long={machine learning}
	long={deep learning}
	long={fast Fourier transform},
	longplural={fast Fourier transforms}

It can be seen that each acronym can simply be declared with @acronym{<label>, <keys>}. Accordingly, the bib file notations.bib looks as follows:

	description={determinant of a matrix}
	description={absolute value of a variable}

In this case, each entry can be defined using @symbol{<label>, <keys>}. The bib file symbols.bib looks as similar:

	description={velocity in \unit{\meter\per\second}}
	description={angular velocity in \unit{\per\second}}

Using the glossaries-extra package

The pre-defined acronyms, notations and symbols can now be referenced with the glossaries-extra package. But first the package needs to be integrated (i.e., \usepackage{glossaries-extra}) and the three bib files have to loaded with \GlsXtrLoadResources[src=path/to/file] in the preamble:

% acronyms
% notations
% symbols
% rename the chapter from GLossary to Nomenclature

Above, a certain style for displaying acronyms was already set (i.e., \setabbreviationstyle[acronym]{long-short}), which makes sure that an acronym is fully displayed and defined when it is first used. Furthermore, the name of the chapter was changed from “Glossary” to “Nomenclature”. See section 1.7 of the pdf above for examples.

In the document, the nomenclature is printed with the \printunsrtglossaries:

\frontmatter % switches to lower case roman page numbers

The glossaries are called is plural as technically there are three glossaries (acronyms, notations and symbols), which have to be printed. However, they are automatically organized in groups due to the style=indexgroup option that was set when loading the glossaries-extra package in the preamble (more styles can be found here).

Now, the acronyms, notations of symbols can be referenced with the \gls{<label>} command. In the introduction.tex file this is exemplarily done:

Usually the first time derivative is denoted as \gls{x_dot} and \gls{ml} is a field that has been thriving in recent years, especially due to advances in \gls{dl}. When \gls{ml} is called for the second time, only its acronym is displayed.

It is also possible to use plural terms with the \glspl{<label>} command:

it is possible to write about several \glspl{fft}.

Check out the pdf displayed above, where the nomenclature is automatically created. The acronyms, notations and symbols are divided into three groups and are sorted within their respective group. Furthermore, only entires actually used in the document are displayed and the page number of the first use is added. This would be a lot more work if done manually by hand. In case the page number should be hidden, adding nonumberlist to the options of the glossaries-extra package will do the trick.

Note, that bib2gls needs the aux files to identify the acronyms, notations and symbols. Hence, first compile the document, then run bib2gls and the re-compile the document for final results.


The key takeaways of this blog should be that

  • creating a nomenclature with glossaries-extra is recommended as it automates the process and avoids errors and that
  • bib2gls is a convenient tool for outsourcing the definitions of acronyms, notations and symbols to bib files.

In the next part we will look at a workflow for plotting vector graphics with matpltolib and automatically integrating the vector graphics in the LaTeX thesis document.