Dedicated Word style used for in-text citations?


Just as one can customise the style with which references are inserted by Zotero in a Word document (the "Bibliography" style), it would be very useful for in-text citations to have a style of their own as well.

However, in my case at least (Word 2016, Zotero, citations are just inserted using the Normal style, wwhich makes it impossible to customise their formatting independent of the manuscript's main text.

I searched past threads on here to no avail. The only two suggested workarounds were:
1) Use the EndnoteText style - but this style isn't in fact used by Zotero
2) Insert citations in their paragraph and then use the Delete key to bring them up in the paragraph where they belong - doing so does insert text that is differently formatted from Normal, however Word's Style Inspector still shows it to be the Normal style.

Any ideas? Thanks in advance!
  • I am not fully sure but I remember that if I formatted blank paragraph to any style and after this step, I put there the Zotero bibliography, then the bibliography use the style from the paragraph and not normal style. Sorry, I cannot test it yet.
  • Thanks! That seems to be indeed the case, but it is a rather cumbersome workaround to use for future manuscripts *and* does not help with my current one, where citations were just inserted at the cursor, i.e. with the Normal style, and could therefore not be customised unless all reinserted. I wonder if there is any other solution.
  • I don't quite understand why we would want citations to have their own style? That'd just seem to create a disaster for converting documents.
  • @adamsmith: In the LibreOffice, the inserted bibliography is automatically formatted in the specific style.
  • I understand why a style for the bibliography. I don't get why we'd want that for in-text citations, though/
  • I guess for the same reason of being able to format all these objects at once (all in-text citations) by modifying a single style to which they all belong rather than seeking them out one by one.
  • Describing a specific use case would be really helpful here. What exactly are you trying to do with all the citations? Most changes would be better done by modifying the CSL style.
  • What I had in mind was to simply have citations stand out more while working collaboratively on a manuscript (e.g., have them all underlined), or on the contrary have them fade in the background (e.g. have them all in light grey). I agree that these are not very typical usage cases, but to me it still feels sensible for them to have their own style. On the other hand, I may not realise how much work this takes to implement, and so it is of course up to you guys to decide whether it's worth it or not.
  • Yeah, we wouldn't want to do this for both technical (I'm pretty sure Word will apply the style to the whole paragraph) as well as pragmatic reasons (it would make it harder to change the formatting of a whole document).

    You could achieve what you want both by using the field shading in Word/LibreOffice and/or by using a citation style that just applies the formatting that you want (e.g. bolds and underlines in-text citations)
  • OK - thanks!
  • The easiest method would actually be to change your display settings in Word to Highlight Fields--Always. That way, the gray highlighting you see when you put the cursor in the citation will always show up. This is what I do all the time.
  • Thanks Brenton for this suggestion, which I only noticed more than 2 years after you've posted it :)

    This is actually a great workaround for a feature I still wish Zotero had: being able to customise in-text citations, in particular make them of a slightly lighter font colour, so that they stand out more easily when reading (as is the formatting style of Frontiers journals, for instance!).

    Unfortunately, for me the workaround is of limited use, since (due to sensitive eyes) I use Word in "dark mode", meaning I set documents' font colour to light grey and their page background to black. If I make fields always visible in such a setup, their highlight colour becomes instinguishable from their font colour and you can't read a thing.

    Any other thinkable workarounds?...
  • Also, another advantage of being able to customise the font/colour of in-text citations, would be that you could also make them appear slightly differently not just on screen but also in print, thus fast-streaming the reading process (again, as Frontiers journals do). Whereas the HighlightFields workaround (for those users who don't use a dark-scheme) can only make in-text citations stand out on screen, but not also when the document is printed.

    Several other users have highlighted the need for such a feature, for instance (after a brief search) @eric_f and @seabass86 ( and @smoother (

    I am happy to test any code-in-progress, or to explain my case for this feature necessity further, if need be.
  • (As I say above, I'm almost positive that this simply isn't possible. The way Word works, you apply styles to paragraphs when you insert RTF, so this simply can't be done without major changes to Zotero, if at all).
  • And unfortunately, Word's tools for controlling field formatting don't work with third-party field types like Zotero's, so there isn’t a fast way to post-process fields to have a specific formatting.
  • edited September 3, 2019
    @adamsmith : I see, but would the formatting of in-text citations (Zotero fields) in Word not be governed by character/text-level (as opposed to paragraph-level) styles? As far as I understand, the two types of styles can co-exist for any given section of text, as can be seen for instance by pulling up the Style Inspector in Word, for a selection of text (Home|Styles button|StylesInspector). Thus, maybe Zotero can be made to act just on the former but not on the (more problematic) latter.

    If you guys say it ain't possible though, then I believe you ;)
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