Manual ordering of collections and items

When using Zotero in the writing process I would like to be able to manually order the collections and items within collection instead of having it in alphabetical order. Perhaps to reflect the structure/chapters in my writing. Is this possible already?
  • edited April 10, 2007
    http://forums.zotero.org/discussion/33/

    It's not currently possible. (The data layer actually records an order for items in collections, but it's not user-editable or used by the GUI at the moment.) It might be implemented eventually if there's enough demand, but, as noted on that thread, it's not without complications.

    Note that you can use subcollections for individual chapters (and there's a hidden pref to display sub-items in parent collections).
  • CB
    edited January 20, 2009
    Well, here's a suggestion that might help those of us who need ordered lists of items for some purposes.

    How about implementing zotero hyperlinks (as per http://forums.zotero.org/discussion/1222/hyperlinks-back-to-zotero-item/). Preferably system-wide, but even just within Zotero or firefox would be useful.

    Then you set up either a Quick Copy / drag preference or a new shortcut, to allow copying or dragging those links into Zotero notes. Notes could then contain ordered lists of items.

    As a bonus, system-wide hyperlinks also would be immensely useful for integrating Zotero with other software, but the rub is of course that I've no idea how complex this would be to implement.
  • edited January 29, 2009
    A simple way to manually order items in a collection is by renaming each of them and inserting a number at the beginning. For example, if there were three things named: "Dick", "Harry", and "Tom" in the collection, you could order them by changing them to "1 Tom", "2 Dick", "3 Harry". (You might need to use two-digit prefixes if there are a large number of items for them sort correctly.)

    If you have a lot of existing items, this could get tedious, though -- as can inserting something into the middle of the list. It's best done incrementally as each item is added.

    Hope this helps. It would be nice if they could just be dragged into the desired order -- perhaps someday they will.
  • Is there any way to drag references into a document without having Zotero automatically prepend numbers?
  • Choose an un-numbered citation style for quick-copy
  • A great idea -- and obvious in retrospect. Thanks!
  • Hey all,

    I think it is possible to fill the tag 'extra' and then we can sort the list by 'extra' column.
  • Hi Andy, can you explain this further? I am currently attempting to manually sort the items in my library to create a citations list.
  • @tnelson36 Are you using a numeric citation style where the items should be in order of appearance? If so, then using the Zotero Word plugin to insert citations and make your bibliography is your best plan.
  • I think the lack of "manual ordering of collections and items" was the biggest design flaw of zotero. I have pointed this out to the developers many times before but nothing has happened over the years. It was a bad idea to "build" and sort the bibliography in the word processor instead of directly in zotero. Zotero should have up and down arrows so users can move references up and down in each collection in zotero and then simply export the collection to the bibliography in the word processor. The collection in zotero should also look the same as the bibliography in word (the same reference order). The user should also easily and freely be able to move individual or a group of scientific references between collections and sub collections in zotero. It is a waste of time having to manually add scientific references again in a difference collection in zotero when you already have added those references previously in a different collection but are unable to move them.
  • Bibliographies are document-specific. Your Zotero library might be associated with dozens of papers. The whole point of writing with a tool like Zotero is to let it automatically generate and format your bibliography for you as you write.

    You are recommending a manual workflow that negates 90% of the benefit of writing with a tool like Zotero. Maintaining the numbering and order of citations as you write is a huge pain—that’s why tools like Zotero and BibTeX were created.
  • "Bibliographies are document-specific.".

    Yes, and that is a huge zotero design flaw.

    "Your Zotero library might be associated with dozens of papers.",

    Yes another zotero design flaw. Each paper should have a separate collection or sub-collection of references because the references order for each papers is unique.

    "You are recommending a manual workflow that negates 90% of the benefit of writing with a tool like Zotero."

    I strongly disagree. A manual workflow is writing a scientific paper without a reference manager.

    "Maintaining the numbering and order of citations as you write is a huge pain—that’s why tools like Zotero and BibTeX were created."

    I partly agree with that statment. Maintaining the number and order of citations is indeed a huge pain but it is more a database problem (zotero) then a writing problem (the word processor). No need for "as you write" in your statement. A user should be able to structure the paper in zotero (the reference order) and then simply write the paper in the words processor. When you have collected and sorted all references the writing part of the paper can be done fairly quickly.
  • edited 9 days ago
    "The whole point of writing with a tool like Zotero is to let it automatically generate and format your bibliography for you as you write."

    I again strongly disagree! Generating and formating the bibliography is more a database problem (zotero) then a writing problem (the word processor). A user should be able to structure the paper in zotero (the reference order) and then simply write the paper in the word processor. When a user have collected and sorted all references (this is what takes time) the writing part of the paper can be done fairly quickly in the word processor.

    I doubt there is even a point in discussing this because it becomes obvious that the developer has already made the design decision that current way of doing things is the best. Good luck.
  • edited 8 days ago
    Zotero should have up and down arrows so users can move references up and down in each collection in zotero and then simply export the collection to the bibliography in the word processor.
    This is hardly better than doing the bibliography by hand. With "exporting to the word processor", fixes to entries would not propagate to documents. Styles such as IEEE (granted, the IEEE style should not exist and everyone should just use APA, but that's a different dicussion) dictate that the bibliography needs to be sorted in the order that the items are first referenced in the text; you'd have to figure the correct order out by hand after every change to your paper, which is a ridiculous task -- this is something a ref manager should do for you. And so Zotero does it, exactly like every other reference manager. If this is a design flaw, it's an incredibly popular design flaw. I don't know a single reference manager that does what you think is the right way to go about things.
    Yes another zotero design flaw. Each paper should have a separate collection or sub-collection of references because the references order for each papers is unique.
    What? That's ridiculous. A lot of people routinely shop around articles with outlets, each of which may have different citing demands, and they should now be forced to have a collection for each copy of the same paper, and manage bibliography order by hand in each? I reckon there'd be a user revolt if Zotero did this. You seem to think that your way of doing things works best for absolutely everyone. This is just not true.

    And hey -- Zotero is fully open source. If there is such a major market for this feature, put together a team and mod it in. If you want the Zotero team to do it for you it looks like you'll have to describe the use-case better and show that there's an audience > 1 for this. Describe the feature on https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/zotero-dev; if it gets any traction you might get somewhere. But I genuinely don't see why anyone would want to manage their references this way. And before you get all worked up: if your way works for you, that's great, but you seem to be assuming this is a universal experience. I'm telling you it's not.
    The collection in zotero should also look the same as the bibliography in word (the same reference order)
    This is technically achievable with a Zotero plugin BTW. I could even see why this would be desirable. It wouldn't be easy, and it wouldn't be pretty, or easy to use, or very reliable, but it's possible. Have at it.
  • @marc01 You might find https://zbib.org more to your liking. It is designed for manually constructing a bibliography for a single paper. That’s not the approach used by any referenced manager with a persistent database for the reasons described above—the ordering of references is something specific to a document, not to the underlying reference library.
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