Word Plugin deletes manual additions to footnotes when refreshing

In footnotes with multiple citations, when you manually add text inbetween those citations into the footnote of your word document (not using the edtor in the zotero pop-up interface), this text gets deleted when refreshing Zotero via the Plugin.

Text does not get deleted before or after the block of multiple citations.
If you add text inbetween citations via zotero's popup interface, it will not get deleted.

I understand that this might not be a bug, because users may not be supposed to enter arbitrary text inbetween multiple citations in footnotes. I personally would like to see such a function however. It makes working with zotero much easier.

What do you think? Bug? Feature request? Or is there even a fix for this?

Thanks for any comments or help!
  • This is not a bug.
    Maybe it's a feature request - but one that has very little chance to be implemented, I believe:
    Here is why - one of the strengths of Zotero is that you can seamlessly switch between citation styles. If you include parts inserted by word as a citation - what happens when you switch e.g. from an author/date style to a footnote based style? With text inserted through the Plugin, the citation style can adapt whatever you put in accordingly.

    I'd imagine this is also a programming issue. if you click refresh, Zotero uses the information it has written to the respective field in the document to create a citation. It doesn't even know you have inserted something in there using word - so obviously that part isn't maintained.
    What's wrong with using the plugin editor? It's just one click away...
  • Hi Adam,

    I disagree with you. I think this is a very important feature request and the fact that zotero cannot handle this situation sufficiently demonstrates a serious problem in the program's internal data architecture.

    Let me give you an example to further illustrate my point:

    Let's assume this is a footnote I have:

    W.O. Henderson, “The Berlin Commercial Crisis of 1763,” The Economic History Review, New Series 15, no. 1 (1962): 89–102; Ingrid Mittenzwei, Preußen nach dem Siebenjährigen Krieg. Auseinandersetzungen zwischen Bürgertum und Staat um die Wirtschaftspolitik (Berlin, 1979).

    Now I would like to add "Also compare:" after the semicolon that separates the two citations, so that the footnote looks like this:

    W.O. Henderson, “The Berlin Commercial Crisis of 1763,” The Economic History Review, New Series 15, no. 1 (1962): 89–102; Also compare: Ingrid Mittenzwei, Preußen nach dem Siebenjährigen Krieg. Auseinandersetzungen zwischen Bürgertum und Staat um die Wirtschaftspolitik (Berlin, 1979).

    I think that this kind of adition should be done in the word document and not in the zotero plugin because it does not concern the actual content of the citation but rather the textual context in which the citation is used.

    From a datamanagement standpoint it would make total sense for the zotero word plugin to treat multiple citations in one footnote as follows:

    [citation1][separator][citation2][separator][citation3] etc...

    instead of

    [citation1 separator citation2 separator etc] as it is now,

    because this would allow for all kinds of textual additions inbetween citations. These happen all the time, at least in the humanities, and are therefore absolutely essential for a well-functioning citation system.

    Also, handling these textual additions in the zotero plugin as opposed to using the text processor software means that changes to the footnote text (not the citation) that were made by users who are not zotero will be reverted once you open the document with your zotero enabled copy of word again. This is an inacceptable solution for any collaboration project as far as I am concered.

    You say that the plugin is only one click away. In fact this is rarely the case, since you would have to first get to the Add-Ins Tab of Word 2007, then click on Edit Citation, then click on Show Editor, make your changes, then click OK.

    Finally, while I agree that this might not be a bug from a computer science standpoint, it is still a major problem. After all the plugin lets you add text inbetween citations in word without any problems, but erases this text without telling you as soon as you hit the refresh button. I just found this problem a few hours ago. Considering that I will have to go back to each and every footnote of my 300 page manuscript to see whether I need to reenter all this deleted text, actually makes me wonder whether using zotero has been the time-safer that I had hoped it would be.

    To wrap this up, I think this is a very important feature request that should absolutely be incorporated as soon as possible, even if that means the development team would have to reorganize the way that zotero handles the output of multiple citations.

    What would be the next step?

    Thanks an best wishes,
  • I can´t speak for the dev team so I don´t know how hard this would actually be. It seems quite hard to do.

    I think where we differ is where the "also compares" belongs. I believe it´s a part of the citation - if I switch the citation above to author-date I would want things to read: (Henderson 1962; also compare Mittenzwei 1973) - i.e the "also compared" gets converted together with the citation and thus should be considered a part thereof.

    You also overlook some possible difficulties in how citations work. E.g. some citation styles require multiple citations by the same author to read (Meyer 1989, 1993, 1994) - so having them entirely separated as you suggest wouldn´t work either.

    While Zotero does let you insert text (that would seem to be hard to prevent), it is marked in grey - indicating that you´re inserting into a field - when you use reference marks/fields and you are warned that inserting text might be problematic if using bookmarks.

    For suggestions: The obvious - if you want to be closer to "one click" - have the Zotero symbols permanently in your Word toolbar - it doesn´t take much room - and use the prefix/suffix function instead of the editor.
    Working together with non-Zotero users is always a bit of an issue - it is with most citation software (certainly with endnote the issues are the same). I´ve pretty much given up on that and just create citations and bibliography and "flatten" the document before sending it of. But if people have good ideas on that I´d certainly be interested.

    As for next steps - you can try to convince people here this should be done - my sense from following discussions is that it would be hard to convince the dev team (which seems closer to my view of what is text and what are citations), but I may be wrong and you can certainly try. It would probably help to tone down language in order to win people´s goodwill (I know it´s hard for us Germans, but "sufficiently demonstrates a serious problem in the program's internal data architecture" is probably not the best way to make friends with the people who wrote that architecture.)
    Alternatively you can get the source code and code yourself - you would only need to modify the plugin, I believe.
  • Here's another way of looking at this issue. What if a person puts a single citation into a note, moves on to another part of the document, then returns to the note to add another citation? If the user changes the punctuation, say, from a period (at the end of the single citation) to a semicolon (to separate the multiple citations), any subsequent Zotero refresh of the document will revert the semicolon to a period.

    It's a trivial change, but since the refresh could occur when the user is looking at another part of the document, the change would pass unnoticed. That means that punctuation errors could get introduced easily. In a long document, such as a book manuscript, that would add up.
  • But that's because the user is doing stuff s/he isn't supposed to do.
    If you want to add a citation to an existing citation, click "edit citation" --> multiple sources and add the second citation that way.

    The text is highlighted in grey for a reason: Don't touch!
    Maybe we should make this poison green ;-).

    And suppose the user wants to change the document from Chicago to ASA style (e.g. footnote to author-date) at a later point: If Zotero does not refresh the citation, would an empty ; remain in the footnote? Would that one citation (as it would now if you edit it in the editor) remain in Chicago style in the footnote? That is unacceptable to me.
    To be blunt, I'm not willing to accept that the people who use Zotero correctly will have to deal with inconveniences introduced for people who cannot be persuaded to abstain from microsoft conditioned hackery.
  • Zeit ist right! The problem described is a very nasty problem and makes Zotero virtually unusable for crafting footnotes. In certain disciplines (notably those that require CMS or Turabian or JBL, for instance) the capacity to edit footnotes is essential. This version of Zotero effectively destroys its usefulness for crafting papers in those disciplines.

    Before I discovered this thread, I started one, so far effectively ignored, here:


  • No one seems to be able to explain to me what's so terrible about using prefix/suffix to edit citations in a systematic fashion.

    Also, no one offers a solution to the conversion footnotes-> author date that I keep raising. You just keep on ranting which is not going to be helpful in finding a satisfactory solution to this.

    Finally, if you're really unhappy with this, you can get your style of choice without an ending period (do it yourself or ask for help) and then just insert the footnote manually and insert individual references into the footnote. You can then do whatever you want between those.

    (your old post btw. wasn't "effectively ignored" it was just not clear what you were saying - partly because this is nothing new: Zotero has always updated reference marks when you edit a citation and thus erased everything that was just typed into it. So this sounded like an actual bug report, but wasn't actually and so no one knew what to say. I read it and I'd assume so did at leat one dev).
  • edited September 26, 2009

    (1) With prefix/suffix, you can't see what you typed in if you need to add lots of info in the note.
    (2) If you are building a document, sometimes you need to rearrange the order of authors cited in the footnote as you add new information. You can't do that in Zotero.
    (3) Even if you only need to add one author to a previously created footnote to which you have added text, Zotero wipes out your text.

    For final editing, Zotero is simply not flexible. It is not intuitive. It is unfriendly.

    True, the Zotero team has clearly addressed quite a few requests well. I applaud this effort. If, however, research/bibliographic software is supposed to be inflexible for the author AT THE END-GAME STAGE, then Zotero (or whoever is responsible for word processor integration) has indeed achieved that goal, up to and including this release, at least when it comes to word-processor integration.

    EDITED. I edited by adding this line. Wouldn't it be rather unhandy if the discussion forum wiped out your entire first composition if you needed to edit for clarity? Should there be OP guidelines that require you to get your entire post right the first time or be wiped out? Okay. If you can design a discussion interface that doesn't wipe out your comments, why not a footnote interface. Is it that hard?
  • no need to yell.
    1) You can just write in the prefix/suffix box and, if you have the show editor window open, see all that you write.
    2) Rearranging seems quite complicated to me to do well - where would edited/added text go when you rearrange? I think it would be great if Zotero would have a better way of rearranging different items in multiple author citations, yes, but that's an entirely different questions.
    3)that's actually not true in several ways: a) it's not true if you have used suffix/prefix to add the text. b) it's not true if you have moved the cursor out of the grey area (e.g. by pressing return after the citation, writing something, and then backspacing it back to the text.

    I find Zotero wonderfully flexible in the sense that I can, at the last minute of my research, convert my document from footnotes to author-date. That was an absolutely crucial question in my decision to switch to Zotero. While I keep making suggestions for how you can still get the functionality you want with the current setup, you, and other people advocating for the same type of changes have not been willing to address this question at all.
    I think Zotero is a very flexible and versatile piece of software. Part of the reason it is able to be so flexible is that it is trying to impose a relatively high degree of discipline on the user. That might not be your favorite way to work - and if it's not, it's possible that there is better software out there for you - but the effect of that imposed discipline is actually an incredibly high degree of flexiblity in formatting that your proposed solutions would preclude.
  • Adam, It does not seem that you are using the same version of Zotero as I. I wonder if its behavior might be dramatically different across varying systems.
  • mbruffey, what issues in particular are you experiencing, and with what OS and word processor? What you described in the other thread is by design, although I agree that a warning might be in order.
  • Thanks Simon.
    (1) In the edit citation popup window, I cannot see the entire note if it is long.
    (2) If you toggle between single/multiple sources, the popup window gets larger and larger.
    (3) Any addition of sources, even in a note that started as multiple, deletes any custom information.
    OS: Windows XP Pro
    WP: Openoffice latest version

    I would have sworn that in an earlier version, I was able to add new sources and information as well to notes that started out as multi source. I guess I was wrong. I know you cannot switch from single to multiple without deletions.


    Other than disable deletion (which I take it is contrary to your design parameters):

    (1) Make it possible to start a note as multiple even when it isn't originally so the author can later add more sources if necessary, without loss.
    (2) Make the prefix/suffix fields expandable or separable for addition of longer custom notes that may be viewed in their entirety.
    (3) Fix the bottom half of the view field so that user can see entire note when long.
    (4) Make it possible to merge distinct footnotes into a single note without loss. That's another subject, but, as long as I have your attention, I thought I would throw it into the mix.

    Thanks much for your attention!
  • Seems to me the term lost in this thread is infix. Suffixes and prefixes are great, but we need to be able to insert comments between multiple sources, and have Zotero be able to do its best to change styles around it. It would need a text box that asked how you would like each of these complications to be resolved when changing styles. I haven't changed styles yet, so I'm not sure if that exists already. Infixes are a central part of the grammar of many languages, if rare in English, and they should be natural in Zotero.
  • note that prefix and suffix work for every individual item in a multiple-item citations.
    I.e. you can allready do:
    (Cf. Smith 1999, who takes issue with Meyer 1997; a summary of the debate is provided by Mueller 2003) using prefix and suffix.
  • Adam, thanks, no I hadn't realized that. It answers my question. I thought I had the same question as the original question in this thread, but perhaps I'd misunderstood it. Adding a second source without losing the first one and its prefixes and suffixes, that might be a second issue.
  • Thank you for the discussion and especially drawing my attention to the Prefix and Suffix fields under "edit citation", which I hadn't found. I am using SBL/JBL style which got a mention above, and had been caught out when refreshing a few times; it's typical in this discipline/style to cite the (e.g.) article with full page range, then also the specific page of a quote or discussion within the item.

    Thanks for all the efforts at Zotero, folks.
  • For the first time, I'm now using an endnote citation style, so I'm dealing with this difficulty of creating complex endnotes for the first time. With parenthetical citations I can just have a footnote that says

    Jones (2002: 32) agrees with this point of view, arguing: "The term <i>fiqh</i> is distinct in that it. . . ." Others, such as Smith (1999) and Emmett (2001) do not differentiate between <i>fiqh</i> and <i>Shari`ah</i>.

    My problem is that when I use an endnote style, the endnote <i>is</i> the citation, so I can't just create an endnote and stick citations in it as I would in parenthetical style. (I tried that and it crashed LibreOffice, so I'm assuming this is not meant to be.) Where this is most limiting, as you can see above, is if you want to use italics or other formatting in the footnote, which is precisely what I need to do now.

    So I guess my question is, is there a way to italicize part of an endnote that also contains citations?
  • The idea would be to use multiple sources and the respective prefix and suffix fields. And you can format prefix and suffix - you can use mark-up just as you did above.

    But I thought you'd be able to insert a citation in an endnote just fine - that really crashes LO? It shouldn't....
  • edited June 4, 2014
    I realise this is an older thread- but I'm coming up on this issue now. I started using Zotero years ago without realising the prefix/suffix function. I'm now entering all the extra comments from earlier work into the prefix/suffix fields so they are stable and updated. I don't have an issue with that now that I understand the idea behind it. My only question is whether it would be possible in a future update for the prefix/suffix fields to be made so they resize automatically to accommodate all text in them? Often I have to add quite a few sentences regarding other authors and their arguments, so it would be very handy to be able to see the contents of the entire field.
  • I echo velovite's request. Is it possible that Zotero can make things so that one can see all text at once that one is entering into the prefix or suffix fields? That would be extremely helpful! LIke velovite said, there is often a need for writing a good bit between citations, and it is hard to compose, let alone edit, one's writing when all one can see is a few words of it. Obviously I could try to edit my writing that is to go between the citations and then cut and paste them into the prefix/suffix boxes, but even then, a future edit requires pulling all the text 'out' again, editing it, and then putting it all back. Any hope of bigger boxes, Zotero? Or this resizing feature velovite suggested? Thanks!!
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