I am writing a small thing in which I am required to use manually formatted \bibitem entries rather than a BibTeX file. This takes a lot of time, and I probably get some of the formatting wrong. Is there a way of producing such entries automatically, for example from MathSciNet or from the BibTeX items created by MathSciNet? For arXiv preprints, there is a great tool from the Courant Research Centre (here) which can produce BibTeX as well as bibitem entries, and there should be something similar for MathSciNet.
Hi Andreas. When you run BibTeX on a .bib file then it produces a .bbl file which more-or-less contains your bibliography in \bibitem format. So I recommend exporting everything BibTex style from MathSciNet, creating a .bib file, running BibTeX, and then making any remaining changes to the resulting .bbl file (which you can then just copy and paste into your .tex file).
I suppose some people even know how to write BibTeX style files, so that the resulting .bbl file contains exactly the formatting you want.
Despite my advice, when I need \bibitem bibliographies, I usually just copy citations from the MathSciNet clipboard (in Ascii format) and manually insert the additional formatting. I'm not sure if this is more, or less, lazy than the .bbl business...
You have several choices:
I would just go with the first. (I am assuming you don't use any bibliography management software like Zotero or JabRef; most often they have output filters for precisely this kind of stuff.) If you are good with programming, the second can be a handy tool to write and have around. The third is for if you are in a hurry and are at a computer where no TeX distribution is installed.