Zotero & tracked changes in Word

I've noticed Zotero already tries to do something clever when adding/editing citations in Tracked changes mode in MS Word. Presumably it halts tracking for the moment it adds or changes the bibliography in order to avoid having a very messy diff, and then switches tracking on again.

However, whenever I do this, I still get changes marked in all citation fields downstream of the citation I've edited or added (probably because some counter in the Zotero fields is updated); all of these downstream changes then need to be accepted manually.

Since these changes to field metadata aren't even visible to the user I think it is safe to assume that we don't need these tracked. In fact tracking them and allowing users to reject them may just be increasing the risk that we end up with broken fields.

Right now my workaround to avoid this is to (1) manually stop tracking changes, (2) then do what I want using the Zotero plugin so that all fields are up to date and these changes are not tracked. Then (3) I cut the new/modified Zotero citation, (4) switch tracked changes on again, and (5) paste the citation back into the text so that it shows up as a change.

In the ideal scenario (at least for my workflow), the Zotero plugin would do essentially all that for me. Is this at all possible? In the slightly less ideal scenario, at least the Zotero plugin would hold off tracking changes while it updates all the downstream fields, so that I don't get a swathe of invisible changes to accept whenever I edit/add a citation.

I hope I'm making sense!
  • Bump — this is still biting me, also in newest versions of Word. Are any of the steps 1-5 above automatable as part of the Word plugin, or are we out of options here?
  • We have a ticket open for this but have not got around to it. I'll see if I can prioritize this a bit higher in the near future. Making this work right shouldn't be that hard and would save some users a lot of headache.
  • That would be fantastic! I thought this used to work in the past, but for a while this has been a serious hassle.
  • @mark @enozkan The fix is now available in the Zotero beta.
  • Amazing! I'm not able to try it now —want to keep to stable release in the midst of writing— but really looking forward to trying this when it arrives.
  • It does not work for me. Interestingly, it appears to be style dependent.

    For example, if I use Cell (author-date) when track changes are on, upon adding a new citation, only the bibliography gets a bunch of new track changes, including multiple format changes, and that is fine. Adding a new citation should result in a track change in the biibliography, to be honest, so I am fine with that.

    But when I tried National Library of Medicine (a numerical style), the subsequent numerical citations all get (1) a field code change, (2) a font/format change numbers, (3) an insertion of the new number, and (4) a deletion of the old number. I don't think that is the intended behavior.

    Changing citation styles also adds field code changes all over the place but since that's a rare action, we can live that.

    I tried this on a Mac (Mac OS 10.13.6) running Word for Mac 2016 (latest version 16.16.22). With Zotero 5.0.88-beta.7+a8c682bf4. Cite pane in preferences (after manual reinstall) says Microsoft Word-in is currently installed.

    Hope this helps.
  • @enozkan This is only available for Windows Word. We'll look if it can be fixed for Mac Word too.
  • @enozkan The fix is now available for Word for Mac. Let us know if you have any problems with it.
  • I tested it with the latest beta (5.0.88-beta.9+bccf5ff0b) on my Mac, and yes, none of the actions Zotero undertakes, including adding a citation, editing a citation, adding a bibliography, and changing the citation style, get registered as tracked changes. Tested with eLife (author-date) and Nature Communications (numeric) citation styles.

    A purist could argue that adding and editing citations should register as a change, and only the odd field code changes should be eliminated. But this is so much better from a user experience point of view compared to previous behavior, I cannot complain. Thank you, @adomasven !
  • Yep. Only registering text changes to citations should be doable, but involves quite a bit more work and testing, so perhaps sometime later in the future.
  • This change is now available in Zotero 5.0.88.
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