Best Practices for Combining Chapters


I am writing my PhD dissertation in the humanities, and I am sitting on about 12 chapters that total over 600 pages, composed in Word. Each chapter is written in its own Word (docx) file. I have not been using Zotero in these documents yet; my references & footnotes (in Chicago) are just 'roughed in' for now.

Because of the length of the full draft, I find it much better to keep the chapters in separate files. I'd like to maintain the separation for as long as possible, combining them all into one Doc file near the end of the process. However, I also want to start polishing my notes and taking advantage of Zotero to do so, but I also want to avoid hiccups when I combine the documents.

I created a few 'dummy' files to see how Zotero refs behave if I copy/paste the contents of one file with Zotero refs into another with the same reference, to see if they update appropriately (like changing, where and if necessary, a full note to a short note for subsequent entries). In my little experiments, sometimes they seem to combine correctly and other times not. This makes me a little nervous to polish the note in my real project in separate files and then combine later. It sounds like a real nightmare to have to correct, and I worry with such a long document that the changes of freezing, or some kind of corruption, would be amplified.

Anyway that's the context. So my question is whether experienced users can provide some guidance about whether there is some iron-clad way of combining several long files with zotero refs in such a way that they all update correctly, or whether I am best to introduce Zotero refs only when I am working with one big file.

  • Combining files with Zotero citations should work smoothly and is definitely the recommended way to go.

    One thing to note is that, when combining them (typically via copy & paste I assume) the target document to which you're pasting should already have a Zotero citation or at least a citation style set via Document Preferences.
  • Hi Adamsmith, thanks for your feedback. Can you speculate as to what might have happened when, in my experiments combining multiple documents which all had Zotero references in them, they did not update as expected? I did refresh a few times, but nothing happened.
  • What exactly happened when you tried? No ibid? No combined bibliography?
  • I did not have a bibliography in any of the documents, just running footnotes. I put about 5 in 'chapter 1' and then about 5 in 'chapter 2' and then 3. In 2 and 3 I used a combination of new sources (that is, not cited in chapter 1), and ones that I did use in chapter 1. I copy/pasted chapter 2 after the body of the text in chapter 1, then added the text of C3 to the end of that same file.

    In the footnotes that had been in C2 & 3 that used the same sources as C1, they did not change to a shortened note. They retained the long form that you'd have for the first time it was used. So I ended up having multiple entries in the combined document that had a full citation. It didn't update the subsequent entries to a short note. So I restarted the process, and that time it all performed and updated as expected. I don't believe I did anything different during the two tests, so that's what prompted me to post here... I was worried there might be glitchyness with that sort of action.
  • Nothing we're aware of and certainly lots of people are doing what you describe.

    I've occasionally seen reports of Refresh not working for (I believe) unknown reasons. If that does happen, switching to a different style and back will work.
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