Quotes vs. Notes; "Turbo" quote

Hi Zoteristos -- great work so far! I have two feature / use case requests -- it may simply be that I haven't figured out how to do the below in my first few hours with Zotero, or they may need coding de novo:

1. Quotes vs. notes. When I highlight a part of a page and choose "Create Zotero note from selection," I'd like it stored as a note that is marked as being a "quote" rather than a note, so that I can go back and differentiate paraphrases from direct quotations. Is this possible at present?

2. Likewise, when I create that question on a page that I haven't yet stored as an item, it would be handy if in a "turbo mode" that page were created as an item and snapshotted, and the quotation automatically added underneath that item as a child of it. As it stands, there are two additional steps I need to take between making a note: creating the item for the page, and associating the note with that page.

Please let me know if I'm missing a way to configure Zotero to do the above. Also let me know if this is something better implemented as a preference or extension, and I'll see if I can dust off my old javascript skills.


  • Implementing a separate "quote" item type would be more complicated, if that's what you're requesting, but an easy solution would be to have an option to automatically put quotation marks around text added from web pages. (We almost made that the default but decided against it.) Perhaps either a user preference and/or a modifier key (e.g. hold down Option to toggle the default behavior) would work?

    It's possible that the "Turbo Mode" you're suggesting should actually be the default instead of "Create Zotero Note from Selection." I imagine that the most common use case is to create a new note from a selection and then drag it into an item to make it a child note, which is already a two-step process and not really any easier than just right-clicking an item, selecting Add Note, and then using "Add Selection to Zotero Note." So it probably makes sense for the other option to be, essentially, "Create Zotero Item and Note from Selection," though preferably something a bit less verbose. (There may be a feature later to automatically parse a citation on a web page and create an item from it, so the text would have to be differentiated from that feature.)
  • Adding a separate class of "quote" items seems like overkill; my first thought would be adding something like a "verbatim_p" flag, but now that you mention it, in-band signaling with simple enclosing quotes would be sufficient and trivial to implement. For folks currently denoting verbatim citations in that way it should save a number of steps (select text, [home], quote, end, quote, save).

    I agree that "turbo mode" / "create item and [verbatim] note from selection" should be the default action. It would be nice as well if there were a keyboard shortcut to enable not only two-handed mouse / keyboard work, but caret browsing (F7) as well.


  • I think it might be time for Zotero to think about some conventional wiki markup for important semantics like this.

    This issue of excerpted text vs. user notes is such a critical one (e.g. at least one prominent public historian had her career ruined for what she claimed was a mistake of confusing the two in imperfect notes) that it needs to be done right.

    I once had a conversation with the guy that maintains PyTextile, and the conclusion that we came to is a convention something like ``excerpted text'':source#page=23 makes sense (or maybe using the @ symbol instead). Perhaps it could then be rendered in such a way that the markup was hidden, but where it was clear the source of the text is not the note-taking author?

    This also has advantages in integrating that content into documents. If the page number is attached the excerpted text, after all, the user doesn't have to manually add them to their citations.

    BTW, prompted by reading the blog entry on notes; would be nice if you guys opened up comments there.
  • edited January 15, 2009
    It seems that this feature request hasn't caught much attention, which is sad. Having the ability to add "Quotes" in addition to "Notes" would be very usefull.

    As zotero is structured it's quite capable of allowing one to index books etc. in a very detailed way. E.g. having a "Collection Category" per book chapter, as shown in one screencast, and then using notes to index the content. Used in this way, it comes quite naturally to ask for a "quote category".

    If I compare zotero to http://scholarz.net/ I find that zotero is easier to handle and has nearly all the important features (or at least will include them in the future, as the research-group support) except the explicit quotation feature.

    In short: there is the "note" category which allows one to add quotes. But it would give one more oversight (in reference to bdarcus' comment) and ease of use to have a special category for it.

  • It's not clear that separate quotes records make sense given that 1.5 already includes rich notes support that includes quotes, and that the Zotero team has expressed openness to building features on top of that (like appending page numbers to the quotes for truly "smart quotes").
  • I would like Zotero to use such a quotes feature to allow multiple users to participate in a discussion, on any issue of interest, using only quotes. A tree view of indented quotes with clickable references (for context of each quote) could then be generated by Zotero to allow easy viewing of the quotes currently part of a quotes discussion.
  • What I would like, and may exist, though I can't find it is, is the ability to import a note (quote) into OpenOffice as the body of a citation. At present, I can easily insert references but I have to type, or copy and paste, what they are referring to. That's a shame.
  • I think a seperate quote item should be integrated. A convenient way to manage quotations is important for cultural studies like German philology or Slavic studies. Students of such studies often have a collection of frequently used quotes. It would be very great, to relate them to the right academic source and insert them into office documents in an easy way. In the same step a citation should be inserted automatically to reference the quotation with the correct page number. Therefor the quotations should be easy to differentiate from notes to find them quickly. Also the quotations shouldn't be pre formated, because they have to appear in the office document as the paragraph formatting specifies.
  • Something like this would be very welcome. In our environment, one of our reasons for introducing Zotero into our writing programs is to reduce the temptations to plagiarism. If quotation is built into the interface, the barriers to doing things right would be reduced even further -- another benefit from the same advantage.
  • As I mentioned above, none of this necessarily means a "quote" needs to be anything like a discrete object/row in the database. There's still a lot that can be built on top of the HTML notes functionality coming in 1.5, so I'd suggest taking a look at that and considering the possibilities.
  • edited January 29, 2009
    I agree with Bruce--marking a quote by quotation marks seems quite adequate to me. The sync version also indents the quoted paragraph which makes it even more obvious--this should be enough for students not to confuse quotes with their own notes.
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