Quick copy citations

I just discovered the Word plugin, which is an absolutely beautiful tool.

I have a suggestion for a feature that would make the writing process a bit more seamless.

Currently, when I drag an item (or items) from Zotero into Word, it "Quick Copies" a reference list. It would be AWESOME if there were a preference to "Quick Copy" a citation instead. (And then I could use the "insert bibliography" button in Word to generate the reference list later.)

Currently, using the "insert citation" button in Word is a little cumbersome---it doesn't let me sort my articles by tags, modify my saved searches on the fly, etc. Generally, it's much easier for me to have Zotero open side-by-side with Word to locate the articles I need quickly than to mess with the clunky add citation interface. If I could just drag and drop the citation directly from Zotero into Word, the process would be a lot quicker.

Obviously, this should be a preference, so that people can use the default "quick copy" reference list feature, or switch to "quick copy" citation mode.

A couple of logistic thoughts:

1. There should be an option "prompt for advanced settings when Quick Copying citation". If this option is DISABLED, when I drag a citation from Zotero into Word, it should instantly create a basic cite without any fuss. If I drag multiple articles into Word, it should create a single citation and default to some sorting behavior--alphabetical? by year? Whatever.

2. If the "prompt for advanced settings when Quick Copying citation" option is ENABLED, when I drag the articles from Zotero into Word, the "Add/Edit Citation" window should pop up (obviously with my selected articles already in the right-hand citation pane), where I can reorder the articles, add page numbers, and click the "Show Editor" button to edit the actual text of the citation.
  • edited March 28, 2011
    we talked about this in the past (i.e. there are existing threads on this proposal)- it's at least not easy to do - Zotero includes a bunch more information in the citation that rely on the word document (especially wrt the position of the citation in relation to others), so it can't just copy them from Zotero.
    I think the better solution would be to continue to improve the plugin or to get RTF-scan to a state where it's a full blown alternative.
  • I don't fully understand what's possible given your system, but here are a few ideas.

    1. Rather than "copying" the citation from Zotero upon drag-and-drop, is it possible to merely pass a vector of all of the "ID" numbers of the articles to the Word plug-in, and allow the Word plug-in to do all the processing it would normally do to create the citation (e.g., to determine the position of the citation in relation to others, etc)? For example, when a drag-and-drop is detected, open the "Add/Edit Citation" window with the selected articles preloaded?

    2. If that can't be done through dragging and dropping directly onto the page in Word, maybe it could be implemented into the "Add/Edit Citation" window (e.g., have a box in the Add/Edit citation window that you can drag and drop articles into from the main Zotero interface)?

    If neither of these solutions are possible, the biggest problem, like I said earlier, is with locating articles in the "Add/Edit Citation" window. Two things would help. First, we need to be able to filter by tags. Second, it would be extremely helpful to have access to advanced search (or be able to edit saved searches on the fly---which is functionally equivalent).

    Basic search is really all that's available in the "Add/Edit Citation" window. Basic search is not very useful, though, because it (1) searches EVERYTHING and (2) doesn't sort by relevance. So, if I search for "roberts 2003" it returns EVERY paper that mentions the words "roberts" and "2003" in alphabetical order, instead of prioritizing papers that have creator, title, or publication year "roberts" and "2003". Normally, I have saved searches that I edit on the fly to overcome the limitations of the basic search. That works well enough in normal Zotero, but these saved searches can't be edited on the fly on the "Add/Edit Citation" window. This would be fixed by allowing advanced searches or editing of saved searches in the "Add/Edit Citation" window.
  • I don't know the details of the plugin well enough, but both of your ideas seem quite hard to do intuitively. The one thing that could work is the "detect the drag&drop automatically and preselect.... that's actually very close to what I mean by a well working RTF scan, but could conceivably implemented into the plugin more directly, too: e.g. if you type [[Smith 1996]] Zotero would open up at the closest matching citation. That has been discussed before and devs didn't seem completely averse to that idea.

    That said, I think improving search in the plugin is key. Making tags accessible sounds like a good idea to me as does improving the search. I'm not sure about the details here - I think the general quick search - because it's so damn slow for large DBs - is less than useless. The only thing it does for me is freeze my plugin for 5secs when I accidentally write something. I don't have a great idea.

    Something that you might not now that greatly facilitates working with the plugin for me is that - as in most browsing software - if you sort by one column, and then start typing, you automatically get to the relevant item: E.g. if you sort by the creator column and then type 'Rober' you get to the first entry where the first author starts with 'Rober' - that's a work-around, but it's quite fast and efficient.
  • That makes sense. Thanks for the tip. An RTF scan would be great, but it'd have to be really flexible. For example, how do you make it detect and properly convert all possible citation styles? (Even just in APA:)

    (Roberts, Smith, & Jones, 2003)
    (Roberts et al., 2003)
    Roberts, Smith, and Jones (2003)
    Roberts and colleagues (2003)
    Roberts and his coauthors (2003)

    Like I said, I really don't know what's possible for the Word plugin. If it were able to detect a drag-and-drop, though, it seems like it may be possible to paste a placeholder with unique article identifiers similar to: [[article1_id;article2_id;article3_id]] and have the RTF scan detect this tag and open up the "Add/Edit Citation" window so you can adjust the options and create a cite.

    If this were all just in a webpage, it seems like it would be relatively straightforward to set up a function to detect a paste, open the options window with the appropriate fields prefilled (as parsed from whatever's on the clipboard), and then preventDefault() to stop the paste.
  • Of all the options discussed here, having tags work within the Word plugin would be most useful for me. I have "insert citation" bound to a key combination and currently use a bunch of saved searches based on tags to work around the current (z-2.1.6) citation options.

    If saved searches were able to be copied to collections or filtered somehow that would also work for me, but having them in a huge flat list makes them difficult to find, too.
  • I acknowledge the existence of technical issues (and a history of discussion) with this, but just as a user, I'd like to strongly reinforce the request from nate - a quick-copy/drag-and-drop for citations (for me, into LibreOffice) would be wonderful.

    Or, indeed, a better plugin for adding citations. For example, why have a special button for single or multiple references? Shouldn't the software count how many are selected on its own? And why not allow selection of multiple references with a ctrl or shift key, and a double click to move them across to the selected list?

    Constructively, respectfully and gratefully

  • I also would like to add my voice to the call for a quicker, smoother technique for adding sources to the citation list. Without fail, I try to double-click the sources I want each time I open the dialogue, and then remember that I have to click on the little arrow.

    For adding a single source, Double-clicking should register as equivalent to selecting "OK" and closing the dialogue.

    For adding multiple sources, double-clicking should place each one into the selection list on the right side. Also, what about allowing drag and drop from the lefthand list into the righthand selection list?

    Are these feasible ideas?
  • Not 100% sure this is what you're after but I found this in the Tips & Tricks page:

    When using Quick Copy, holding the “Shift” key while dragging and dropping items into a text document will insert citations instead of full references.
  • docb is talking about a smoother workflow in the word processor plugin (and I agree) - Quick Copy is useful, but no substitute for the word processor plugin - it only copies the text of the citation, not the whole field information that allows Zotero to create bibliographies, update citations, changes citation styles etc..
  • Mmm, and its a bit buggy. For me (Linux/LibreOffice), using the shift key, I get an insert that looks like this:

    Kaare M. Nielsen, Transgenic organisms - time for conceptual diversification?, <i>Nature Biotechnology</i> 21, no. 3 (2003): 227-228.

    Yup, with the <i> stuff written out. That's far from a citation. Thanks though.
  • @bengilna, that's a very different issue. Please open another thread for your issue where you document what you did to get that (include Zotero version and citation style used).
  • On the main topic, I agree that a drag-and-drop interface would be highly desirable. I've observed many Zotero newbies dragging items (for adding to the citation box and for ordering them within that box) only to find that they, huh? whats this? oh! have to laboriously click the arrow keys. Also, you can't make multiple selections on either side.
  • @mark maybe, but I was just following up on danielreeders' suggestion.

    Anyway, new post as you've requested, here .
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