New Category for Audiobooks

I was about to start entering my list of audiobooks into Zotero, and I found that neither the Book category nor the Audio Recording category contain the necessary information to properly cite an audiobook. Could you add a new category for audiobooks or let me know a better way to enter them?
  • Hmm - is this something that's ever cited? If so in what context and with what information and why doesn't audio recording work?
  • edited March 15, 2016
    Bcrostreet125, I have the same issue. adamsmith, to your questions:

    1) is that something that's ever cited: well, yes, bcrostreet125 and myself both do so. Examples of cases where it's valid to cite the audiobook include: (1) if that's where you actually got the information, (2) if your writing is referring to the audiobook vice the regular book, (3) if there is no corresponding regular book, and (4) other cases.

    2) the problem with the 'audio recording' citation format is that it seems geared to performed music. The options for individual named fields are (1) performer, (2) composer, (3) contributor, and (4) words by. Zotero tends to sort (and list in order in the citation) the people in the order above; however, the most important person in the case of an audiobook is the "words by" person, also known as the "author."

    I have gotten the citations to work by listing first "words by" and the author, and then second listing the first performer as the author. This is convenient, because the audiobooks I'm entering are actually primarily read by the author; however, it is a poor workaround. If there was an option to allow the name entered under "words by" to be the first name displayed in the citation that would answer my primary concern.

    I appreciate any help, and love this product!
  • Do we have any style manual -- be it of an association, a journal, a conference, etc. -- describing how audiobooks should be cited?

    Of the reasons you give 1. I don't think is acceptable (that'd place an unacceptable burden on readers), so we're left with the very small group doing 2.) (to which, I take it, you belong) and a group of unknown size for 3).
    I imagine with the rise of podcasts, people will want to cite those more and more. It'd seem to me that an "audiobook without print version" and a "podcast" are pretty similar, so I'd like to roll those into one to the extent possible.

    It is, btw., absolutely possible to switch the order of creators in the bibliography. You'd have to code that in the style yourself since I don't think this is generalizable to all folks using the Audio Recording item type, but it wouldn't be _terribly_ hard (it also wouldn't be super trivial, if I'm quite honest. Handling names is always a bit tricky.)
  • adamsmith,

    Regarding style manuals - I did find the following:
    - Chicago manual of style: "Recordings of drama, prose or poetry readings, lectures, and the like are treated much the same as musical recordings. Facts of publication, where needed, follow the style for print media. For electronic sources, include information about the medium; online sources should include a URL or similar identifier... [for example,] Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Read by Rick Adamson. New York: Random House Audible, 2004. Audiobook, 8 compact discs; 9 hrs.*
    - Noodletools FAQ lists how to cite audiobooks in MLA format:
    - Wikipedia's style guide gives a template for citing audivisual recordings that would suffice:

    However, like mentioned previously, within Zotero there's no option for an "author" in the Audio Recording item type. All things being equal, using words by with precedence set appropriately would be fine, however I'm loathe to recode the style type myself because (1) I don't know how, and (2) this should be something for not just me.

    * Chicago Manual of Style Online,, para 14.277
    (note, behind a paywall, I have access through my employer)
  • OK, FWIW, putting "read by Rick Adamson" into the format field will work nicely for Chicago manual at this point.
    It's not perfect, but it'll do as a workaround.

    Going the Wikipedia route would seem like a good solution -- I'm not quite sure I understand how their data template would work for audiobooks, though?
  • edited March 26, 2016
    I have question which is close, and instead of opening a new discussion, I hope I can ask it here:
    I am using CMOS full note. I want to cite a CD recording of music. The guidelines in CMOS are at 14.276 Musical recordings
    If I insert a Cd recording into audio recording, I can not get the correct output.
    Shoudl I list a musical recording under book Item type?
    Thank you.
  • edited March 27, 2016
    No, please do start a new thread. it would help to actually include examples of what you're getting and what it should be
  • Apologises. Zotero is working fine.. It's Pandoc or my inability to use Pandoc that is not working.
    Thank you.
  • So, it has been nearly a year since I checked in on this forum, and this is still something I have been trying to figure out. I'm actually in a Master's program now that uses APA formatting instead of Chicago/Turabian. Just to explain a little, there have been times where I have gotten information from audiobooks to use in papers, but so far I have always had the proper book or Kindle book to cite instead. That situation might come up, but as you say, it's not too likely.
    I have obviously found Zotero immensely helpful for citations in papers as I have worked my way through school, but I have also come to use it as a digital library as well. I have been able to enter all my physical books, Kindle books, audio CD's, and DVD's. The only thing left to catalog in my 'library' is audiobooks, which I have begun to use more and more as I drive. There is a distant possibility that I might cite one someday, but for the most part, this is just an attempt to get everything cataloged in one place.
    Thanks for your help!
  • Right - I'm not fully convinced still we want a separate category for audiobooks. My recommendation for cataloging them, especially if you don't need them cited, would be to use either book or audio recording and then use a field like format, medium, genre, etc. to mark the item as an audiobook.
  • With audiobooks becoming more and more common, I am surprised there are so few comments on the options that Zotero has for them. I realize it is not a priority for Zotero developers but still, it would be great if a new category were created for them, or the audio recording category would have more flexible options. Adamsmith, thank you for the workaround suggestion from 2016, it is definitely an option but a very limiting one, instead of letting users take better advantage of Zotero functionality.
  • There isn’t really a major distinction in terms of citation of audiobooks from other books or audio recordings, so I don’t anticipate a separate Audiobook type being added. What adamsmith suggested isn’t a workaround—it’s simply how one would cite an audiobook. What exactly is limiting about using the genre or medium field—indicating special types or formats is what these fields are for.
  • edited October 21, 2020
    bwiernik: For a bibliographic software program that has entries for such item types as Artwork, Map, Radio broadcast etc., it would make a lot of sense to have a separate entry for Audiobook. I am not particularly interested in debating the exact meaning of the word "workaround" and what it may or may not include. The issue is, currently there is no way to enter all the appropriate bibliographic data in a Zotero record for an audiobook (narrator, time length, file format/streaming service, etc.). Nor is it easy to generate a proper corresponding citation, without creating a modified citation style or using some other additional steps to solve the issue. And adamsmith's suggestion, while appreciated, is not about how one would cite audiobooks, but rather about "cataloging them, especially if you don't need them cited."

    Since Zotero is designed for all kinds of users, including those who are not advanced enough to edit citation styles on their own, I see this as an issue without a solution (but only with possible workarounds).

    I understand that Zotero developers have limited resources and have to prioritize what issues they are going to work on. However, there is no need to deny that an issue exists, even when it can't be addressed.
  • It's not so much about limited resources: adding item one more item type (once you're adding new ones anyway) doesn't take much time.
    But adding new item types for anything that anyone considers potentially relevant isn't a way to design software: With 250 item types, Zotero becomes unusable for anyone.
    So the question is: What exactly do you need an Audiobook entry for and how do audiobooks need to get cited (ideally with links to relevant authoritative citation requirements).
  • edited October 21, 2020
    I don't know if it is necessary one more item type. When Narrator gets included at book type will be excellent and, if I think about ABNT (the only citation style that I can talk about), it's almost enough (we would still need medium in extra field).

    A regular user (that don't know or need to know" about citation styles) will always need some kind of guide to know how to complete zotero fields. To know what informations are relevant for each type of document.

    ABNT example of an audiobook using Zotero:

    GOMES, Laurentino. 1822. Ledor: Pedro Bial. São Paulo: Plugme, 2011. 1 audiolivro(CD-ROM).
  • adamsmith: "But adding new item types for anything that anyone considers potentially relevant isn't a way to design software". I understand and agree. I think Book item type would do just fine if it would have additional fields to accommodate audiobooks' format (audio), narrator (I understand it's coming), time length, separate dates for the initial book release vs. audiobook release (if different), medium (CD-ROM/cassette/streaming/downloadable files), file format (mp3/wma/aac). It would also be nice to have a separate field for the access platform (Audible/LibriVox/OverDrive, etc.), even though this information would show in the URL field, since not all citation styles allow for the URL to be included.

    Not sure what "relevant authoritative citation requirements" are supposed to be, but most major manuals of style have certain standards/requirements for audiobook citations:


    APA:, or

    14.277 Recordings of literature, lectures, and such,, or, or or Recordings&text=The format is as follows,)%2C%20medium%2C%20running%20time

    Harvard:, page 18, or

    Not sure what to make of your question "What exactly do you need an Audiobook entry for"? Was it supposed to mean "separate from a regular book entry"? Or does Audiobook need to prove its right to be cited as a source (similar to Artwork, Map, Radio broadcast and other, less common and/or more esoteric sources)?

  • edited October 22, 2020
    For every one of those style guides you cited, the format for an audiobook follows the standard citation form for any other book, potentially with an indication of the format, which we have said is already possible.
  • I don't think it's that simple. From a CSL perspective, this is indeed all doable once we have the narrator variable.

    From Zotero's perspective this is trickier: either you overload the book item type with fields like duration and narrator that are going to be used in <.1% of cases (and confusing), or you add "author" to audio recording, which is otherwise conceptually more suitable but would require all sorts of gymnastics in citation styles (and also perplex users, I'm guessing), or you do an entire new item type, which has the item type proliferation issue as per above. None of these options are great.
  • edited October 22, 2020
    @rusodepaso , those examples that you brought are similar to what we need and use. Just narrator and medium (for a description of what kind of book it is). It is not necessary time length (that it seems to be used only at citation and included like a page), what makes it even more similar to a book type. Are you requesting all these fields to organise your library or I missed something in those reference styles?

    @adamsmith, by a librarian perspective, audiobooks are conceptually more similar to books, and I don't see how, including narrator (as already existis translator, editor, etc.), would be confunsing. Are you saying that, when CSL gets updated, it will not be aded on Zotero? And medium is something that could be used in other types of books, like if you want to describe as a hardcover or its dimensions (even though is not very common in citation styles).

    For us, it would be perfect if we could use narrator in place of the workaround that we have done using genre for it. And it would be very difficult do adapt our CSL if song type was used to audiobooks (and not just because I still have a lot to learn about CSL).
  • by a librarian perspective, audiobooks are conceptually more similar to books
    I don't think that's clearly the case. The Chicago Manual, e.g., clearly has audio books under sound recordings and not under books and at least in the US, they're getting cataloged with other sound recordings in library catalogs (see )

    CSL doesn't need to follow cataloging rules (they have a different purpose), but to the extent that we want to, they point towards audio recording.
    FWIW, I'm less worried about narrator (though some risk of confusion between a literary narrator) and medium (we'd want that for e-books anyway) than I am about duration, which e.g Chicago Manual wants and which would lead to all sort of confusion if added to books.
  • CSL doesn't need to follow cataloging rules
    Certanly! Sorry, I was talking about a librarian that has to guide patrons to use reference managers and understand document types. (Now I saw that I missed that Chicago Manual says to include running time.)

    But I still don't see how audio recording would be preferable.

    song is also used to "podcasts" and "audio recording" uses a different perspective, as "perfomer" usually has more relevance (at music an such) and uses variable author.

    In an audiobook, narrator would have less relevance and variable author would have same relevance and use as in a book type.
  • Adding this here since it seems a critical mass of Audiobook users needs to be heard...and there are related issues: regarding specifications quoted in UL Harvard Styleguide 4th edition (2017) :

    1) there is no Item Type for 'Audiobook'. Using 'Audio Recording' produces a bibliography that prioritises the ‘performer’ (narrator) name over the book's author name, and indeed omits the author completely if data for both roles is entered – contravening the styleguide:

    Author(s) name, initial(s). (year of publication of audiobook) Title of audiobook [audiobook], Narrator(s) name, initial(s). [if necessary], Name of Audiobook supplier, available: web address [accessed date].

    2) Zotero is not respecting the following specification (quoted from p10 Styleguide):
    Note that unlike the previous three editions of Cite It Right, there is no need to include “[online]” for references that include a web address.

    3) Instead, in the square brackets, where Zotero currently exports a generic category of [online], the Styleguide demands information about the format eg: [audiobook] or [podcast] or [artwork].

    Format information is not being exported from the Zotero database into the bibliography. With only URLs the bibliography shows many different media types indistinguishably. I have many online sources, all affected by this failure to export the Format field data as required by the Styleguide. Have you any fixes or workarounds or advice on when this might be fixed?
  • The correct method for storing audiobooks is as Book. You can add the narrator in Extra like this:

    Narrator: Dale || Jim

    You can indicate the format of the book in Extra as well on another line:
    Medium: Audiobook

    There is no need for a discrete item type as far as citation formatting goes.
  • Hi Bwiernik, many thanks for your reply. Using 'Book' item type gives a better result than using Audio Recording, but Zotero fails export the Narrator name and the Medium [audiobook] from Extra.

    UL Harvard Styleguide
    Author(s) name, initial(s). (year of publication of audiobook) Title of audiobook [audiobook], Narrator(s) name, initial(s). [if necessary], Name of Audiobook supplier, available: web address [accessed date].

    Outcome from format you suggested
    Fanon, F. (1952) Black Skin, White Masks [online], Penguin Audio, available: [accessed 11 Sep 2021]. @bwiernik
  • Zotero is exporting those--it is the citation style that isn't written to handle the narrator and medium variables. It would need to be updated.
  • Thanks bweirnik:

    Zotero is not respecting the following specification (quoted from p10 Styleguide):

    “there is no need to include “[online]” for references that include a web address.”

    Zotero exports a generic category of [online] for every reference with a web address, while the Styleguide demands specific format data eg: [audiobook] or [podcast] or [artwork]. All of these formats are affected by this problem. Because format/medium information is not being exported from Zotero, the bibliography shows many different media types indistinguishably. So fixing just the Book citation style will not resolve the bigger issue.

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