Move Zotero Citations Between Google Docs, Word, and LibreOffice

Last year, we added Google Docs integration to Zotero, bringing to Google Docs the same powerful citation functionality — with support for over 9,000 citation styles — that Zotero offers in Word and LibreOffice.

Today we’re adding a feature that lets you move documents between Google Docs and Word or LibreOffice while preserving active Zotero citations. You can now begin writing a document collaboratively in Google Docs and move it to Word or LibreOffice for final editing, or vice versa.

When you use this feature, Zotero will convert the citations and bibliography to a temporary format that can be transferred safely between word processors.

We’ve added instructions for specific word processors, but the basic process is the same:

  1. Choose “Switch to a Different Word Processor…” from the plugin’s Document Preferences window.
  2. Save the converted file.
  3. Open the file in the other word processor.
  4. Click Refresh to continue using it.

Zotero plugin Document Preferences window

In Google Docs, you can also choose “Switch Word Processors…” from the Zotero menu.

Zotero plugin Document Preferences window

While the process should be entirely reversible, we recommend performing the conversion in a copy of the file.

While this conversion process is required to move active citations in and out of Google Docs, you can also use it to move documents between Word and LibreOffice without some of the problems inherent in Bookmarks mode.

You can start using this feature today in Zotero 5.0.72 and Zotero Connector 5.0.57.

Retracted item notifications with Retraction Watch integration

Zotero can now help you avoid relying on retracted publications in your research by automatically checking your database and documents for works that have been retracted. We’re providing this service in partnership with Retraction Watch, which maintains the largest database of retractions available, and we’re proud to help sustain their important work.

How It Works

Retracted publications are flagged in the items list, and if you click on one you’ll see a warning at the top of the item pane with details on the retraction and links to additional information.

If you try to cite a retracted item using the word processor plugin, Zotero will warn you and confirm that you still want to cite it. If you’ve already added a citation to a document and it later is retracted, Zotero will warn you the next time you update the document’s citations, even if the item no longer exists in your Zotero library or was added by a co-author.

Currently, this feature is limited to items with a DOI or PMID (entered in the DOI field or in Extra as “DOI:”, “PMID:”, or “PubMed ID:”), which covers about 3/4 of Retraction Watch data, but we’re hoping to support items without identifiers as best as possible in a future update.

Designed for Privacy

The full retraction data is stored on Zotero servers, but we’ve designed this feature in a way that allows the Zotero client to check for retracted items without sharing the contents of your library. You don’t need to use Zotero syncing or upload a list of items to benefit from this feature.

For each item in your library, Zotero calculates a non-unique identifier that could map to hundreds or thousands of publications, and then compares those to a list of similar partial identifiers of retracted publications that it retrieves from Zotero servers. For each potential match, it requests the full details of all possible retractions, and then checks for local items matching any of those full identifiers and flags any that it finds. The Zotero servers have no way of knowing whether you have the retracted work in your library or one of hundreds or thousands of others. (A similar approach is used by some tools to check for compromised passwords without sharing the passwords they’re checking with the server.) And, as with our other services, we’re not logging the contents of even these anonymized lookups.

This feature is available today in Zotero 5.0.67.

Scan Books into Zotero from Your iPhone or iPad

Zotero makes it easy to collect research materials with a single click as you browse the web, but what do you do when you want to add a real, physical book to your Zotero library?

If you have an iPhone or iPad running iOS 12, you can now save a book to Zotero just by scanning its barcode:

This feature takes advantage of the new Shortcuts functionality in iOS 12, which can chain together series of actions to perform tasks.

To get started, you’ll first need to install Apple’s Shortcuts app, if you don’t yet have it on your iPhone or iPad.

Next, install the Scan Book to Zotero shortcut by tapping on the link below from your iPhone or iPad and selecting Open in “Shortcuts”:

Download Shortcut

Update, October 2019: In iOS 13, you need to enable “Allow Untrusted Shortcuts” in Settings to install shortcuts from outside the Shortcuts app Gallery. As of iOS 13.1.2, it may be necessary to first download another shortcut from the Gallery before the option appears in Settings.

After the shortcut opens, tap Done to close it, and then tap on the “Scan Book to Zotero” rectangle. The first time you run it, you’ll need to select “Run Shortcut” and grant the shortcut access to the camera, and you’ll need to log into the Zotero website before you can save. (If you haven’t yet set up syncing with Zotero on your computer, you’ll want to do that as well so that items you save will sync to Zotero on your computer.)

Whenever you want to scan a book into Zotero, you can trigger the shortcut in a number of different ways:

  • You can open the Shortcuts app and select Scan Book to Zotero.
  • You can swipe right from the lock screen or home screen to open the Today View and select Scan Book to Zotero in the Shortcuts widget. If the Shortcuts widget doesn’t appear or doesn’t appear where you want it, you can add or move it via the Edit button at the bottom.
  • If you have an iPhone that supports 3D Touch, you can hard-press on the Shortcuts app icon and select Scan Book to Zotero from the widget popup.
  • You can say something like “Hey Siri, add this book to Zotero”. (Maybe don’t use this one in the library.) To set a phrase for Siri, open the Shortcuts app, tap the three dots in the Scan Book to Zotero rectangle, tap the settings icon in the top right, and then tap Add to Siri and assign a phrase. In our testing, we found Siri support to still be a bit buggy in the current version of Shortcuts, so if Siri doesn’t recognize your phrase, try editing the shortcut and re-recording the phrase or wait for an update from Apple.

Happy scanning!

P.S. If you don’t use an iPhone or iPad, or you can’t upgrade to iOS 12, you can still save a book from your phone when you’re away from your computer by entering the ISBN manually. Simply bookmark this page and load it whenever you need to add a physical book.

Zotero Comes to Google Docs

We’re excited to announce the availability of Zotero integration with Google Docs, joining Zotero’s existing support for Microsoft Word and LibreOffice.

The same powerful functionality that Zotero has long offered for traditional word processors is now available for Google Docs. You can quickly search for items in your Zotero library, add page numbers and other details, and insert citations. When you’re done, a single click inserts a formatted bibliography based on the citations in your document. Zotero supports complex style requirements such as Ibid. and name disambiguation, and it keeps your citations and bibliography updated as you make changes to items in your library. If you need to switch citation styles, you can easily reformat your entire document in any of the over 9,000 citation styles that Zotero supports.

Google Docs support is part of the Zotero Connector for Chrome and Firefox, which adds a new Zotero menu to the Google Docs interface:

Zotero menu in Google Docs

It also adds a toolbar button for one-click citing:

Add/Edit Zotero Citation toolbar button in Google Docs

When you start using Zotero in a document, you’ll first need to authenticate it with your Google account. You can then begin inserting citations from the Zotero libraries on your computer, just as you can with Word and LibreOffice.

Once you’ve finished your document and are ready to submit it, use File → “Make a copy…” and, in the new document, use Zotero → “Unlink Citations” to convert the citations and bibliography to plain text. You can then download that second document as a PDF or other type of file, while keeping active citations in the original document in case you need to make further changes. Zotero will prompt you to create a copy if you try to download your original document.

Built for Collaboration

Zotero and Google Docs are a perfect combination for people writing together. Zotero groups are a great way to collect and manage materials for a shared project, and Google Docs integration allows you and your coauthors to insert and edit citations in a shared document. Groups are free and can contain an unlimited number of members, so you can collaborate with as many people as you like.

While citing from the same library allows everyone to make changes to items in Zotero and have them reflected in the document, if you don’t want to work from a group, that’s fine too: Zotero can generate correct citations and bibliography entries even for items people add from their own libraries.

Get Started

Ready to try it out? Open a document in Google Docs and look for the Zotero menu. If you don’t see it, make sure you have Zotero Connector 5.0.42 for Chrome or Firefox.

See our documentation to learn more about using Zotero with Google Docs.

If you run into any trouble, let us know in the Zotero Forums.