Fix for bibliography export indentation problem?

edited 11 days ago
Longtime Zotero user and recent paid subscriber here. I've been silently annoyed by the bug with bibliography export and copy-paste for years now. I remember reading somewhere that the fault lies with MS office and Outlook, but as the de facto standard, I wonder if there is a quick fix?

When I export a list of references/copy to clipboard and then paste into an MS office program like outlook email or word, the numbering is always on a separate line and on the right side. Dragging references to the outlook window creates the same issue. It seems silly to have to paste into notepad first before the email as a workaround. It looks sort of like this, but the forums won't let me right justify:

____________________________________________________________________________1.
Patel MS. Change In Length of Stay and Readmissions among Hospitalized Medical Patients after Inpatient Medicine Service Adoption of Mobile Secure Text Messaging. J Gen Intern Med. 2016;31(8):863–70.
____________________________________________________________________________2.
Reeves S, Lewin S. Interprofessional collaboration in the hospital: strategies and meanings. J Health Serv Res Policy. 2004 Oct;9(4):218–25.
____________________________________________________________________________3.
O’Leary KJ. Hospital-Based Clinicians’ Use of Technology for Patient Care-Related Communication: A National Survey. J Hosp Med. 2017;12(7):530–5.

I have this problem with the only biomedical styles I would use in research: Vancouver, AMA, and nature.
Thank you!
  • edited 14 days ago
    @dstillman
    No, I don't accept this answer. I've been using this workaround for 3+ years. Microsoft office is a massively used product and Zotero ought to be compatible.

    All I want to do is easily copy or drag citations into outlook emails. I bet that MANY academic users of Zotero follow this same workflow. Most large academic institutions use Exchange / office365 and so Outlook is a necessity.

    I am begging the zotero developers to please consider this.
  • edited 14 days ago
    You're misunderstanding this.

    We have no control over how HTML we send to the clipboard is parsed by different applications, and we have no way of knowing what application you're going to paste into, even if we could figure out a version that was rendered better by Office. This works pasting into Gmail and Thunderbird (and likely other HTML-based mail programs), so it's certainly possible for an application to support this, and we wouldn't do anything to break that.

    This particular problem would only happen with citation styles that format the leading numbers in a left margin. There are plenty of numbered styles that don't try to do that, and you should use one of those for Quick Copy to an application that can't handle the floated-left number. You could probably even modify whatever style you're using to format the numbers differently, though someone else would have to advise you on that.

    It's possible there's something we could do to the HTML to get styles that require this formatting to transfer better into Office, but given that the existing markup works with Gmail, Thunderbird, and all web browsers, and any alternative would need to be defaulted off, that's not something we can spend time investigating at the moment. If someone wants to play with this, we'll accept a patch that puts it behind a pref. For now, you should just use a different numeric style.
  • And given that the issue is applications not handling a left-floated block element, it's entirely possible that the only "fix" would be an option that moved the numbers into the main block. That would avoid the right-aligned numbers on their own lines, but it would just be incorrect output for the style, and you could get the same by choosing a different numeric style that didn't try to put numbers in a left margin.
  • This particular problem would only happen with citation styles that format the leading numbers in a left margin.
    I don't think that's true -- this happens with any numerical style that has second-field-align set, regardless of whether that's set to margin or flush, and pretty much all numeric styles do one or the other, so there really isn't a good option for someone who wants to copy & paste into an MS application (or google docs for that matter) in a numeric style.

    My very vague understanding of how this works on Windows is that the clipboard can contain multiple formats and will paste in the first format a window accepts, so making rich text/RTF the primary format format could work (but as I said -- pretty vague understanding and no idea how well that'd travel across OSs).
  • I don't think that's true -- this happens with any numerical style that has second-field-align set, regardless of whether that's set to margin or flush, and pretty much all numeric styles do one or the other, so there really isn't a good option for someone who wants to copy & paste into an MS application (or google docs for that matter) in a numeric style.
    OK, maybe "plenty" wasn't accurate, but there are certainly options — "Springer - Vancouver (brackets)" is one that I just picked out of the list at random that includes numbers at the start of each line. There seem to be various other options that do the same.
    My very vague understanding of how this works on Windows is that the clipboard can contain multiple formats and will paste in the first format a window accepts, so making rich text/RTF the primary format format could work
    All OS clipboards support multiple formats, but I'm not sure we can put RTF on the clipboard via the Mozilla framework — I've only ever seen examples for plain-text and HTML, and a simple test with RTF data throws an error. But we can experiment and see if we can get it to work.
  • OK, maybe "plenty" wasn't accurate, but there are certainly options
    Well, there are much more than I thought there'd be -- below is a full list
    (using grep --files-without-match second-field-align *.csl|xargs grep -l citation-format=\"numeric\")

    acta-pharmaceutica.csl
    acta-scientiae-veterinariae.csl
    american-institute-of-physics.csl
    american-journal-of-clinical-pathology.csl
    american-journal-of-orthodontics-and-dentofacial-orthopedics.csl
    american-veterinary-medical-association.csl
    anaesthesia.csl
    aporia-the-nursing-journal.csl
    arthritis-and-rheumatism.csl
    avian-diseases.csl
    biochemistry.csl
    biomed-central.csl
    brazilian-journal-of-veterinary-research-and-animal-science.csl
    briefings-in-bioinformatics.csl
    budownictwo-i-architektura-pl.csl
    bulletin-du-centre-detudes-medievales-dauxerre.csl
    byzantina-symmeikta.csl
    cell-research.csl
    cell-transplantation.csl
    cellular-and-molecular-bioengineering.csl
    chicago-figures.csl
    clinical-hemorheology-and-microcirculation.csl
    clinical-orthopaedics-and-related-research.csl
    clinical-spine-surgery.csl
    council-of-science-editors.csl
    council-of-science-editors-alphabetical.csl
    cultivos-tropicales.csl
    cytometry.csl
    european-journal-of-immunology.csl
    eva-berlin-konferenz.csl
    evolutionary-anthropology.csl
    eye.csl
    french3.csl
    french4.csl
    frontiers-in-bioscience.csl
    geriatrie-et-psychologie-neuropsychiatrie-du-vieillissement.csl
    gigascience.csl
    gost-r-7-0-5-2008-numeric-alphabetical.csl
    grasas-y-aceites.csl
    hawaii-international-conference-on-system-sciences-proceedings.csl
    human-reproduction-update.csl
    interactive-cardiovascular-and-thoracic-surgery.csl
    international-journal-of-electronic-commerce.csl
    international-journal-of-radiation-oncology-biology-physics.csl
    investigative-radiology.csl
    iranian-journal-of-basic-medical-sciences.csl
    iso690-numeric-en.csl
    iso690-numeric-fr.csl
    iso690-numeric-lt.csl
    iso690-numeric-sk.csl
    israel-medical-association-journal.csl
    johnson-matthey-technology-review.csl
    journal-of-analytical-toxicology.csl
    journal-of-antimicrobial-chemotherapy.csl
    journal-of-aoac-international.csl
    journal-of-atrial-fibrillation.csl
    journal-of-chemistry-and-chemical-engineering.csl
    journal-of-clinical-oncology.csl
    journal-of-environmental-science-and-health-part-b.csl
    journal-of-internal-medicine.csl
    journal-of-magnetic-resonance-imaging.csl
    journal-of-refugee-studies.csl
    journal-of-surgery-and-medicine.csl
    journal-of-the-american-college-of-cardiology.csl
    journal-of-the-american-college-of-surgeons.csl
    journal-of-the-american-society-of-brewing-chemists.csl
    journal-of-the-electrochemical-society.csl
    journal-of-the-european-academy-of-dermatology-and-venereology.csl
    journal-of-zoo-and-wildlife-medicine.csl
    laboratory-animal-science-professional.csl
    laser-and-photonics-reviews.csl
    liver-international.csl
    magnetic-resonance-in-medicine.csl
    magnetic-resonance-materials-in-physics-biology-and-medicine.csl
    microbial-cell.csl
    multimed.csl
    multiple-sclerosis-journal.csl
    national-science-foundation-grant-proposals.csl
    neurorehabilitation-and-neural-repair.csl
    nucleic-acids-research.csl
    nucleic-acids-research-web-server-issue.csl
    oncoimmunology.csl
    ophthalmology.csl
    ophthalmology-retina.csl
    otto-von-guricke-universitat-magdeburg-medizinische-fakultat-numeric.csl
    oxford-university-press-scimed-numeric.csl
    pediatric-blood-and-cancer.csl
    pediatric-pulmonology.csl
    perspectives-on-sexual-and-reproductive-health.csl
    photochemistry-and-photobiology.csl
    postepy-higieny-i-medycyny-doswiadczalnej.csl
    protein-science.csl
    radiopaedia.csl
    revista-fave-seccion-ciencias-agrarias.csl
    revista-materia.csl
    revista-virtual-de-quimica.csl
    revue-de-medecine-veterinaire.csl
    revue-des-etudes-byzantines.csl
    science-translational-medicine.csl
    springer-physics-brackets.csl
    springer-vancouver-brackets.csl
    stem-cells-and-development.csl
    the-american-journal-of-cardiology.csl
    the-american-journal-of-human-genetics.csl
    the-febs-journal.csl
    the-journal-of-clinical-investigation.csl
    the-journal-of-eukaryotic-microbiology.csl
    the-journal-of-immunology.csl
    the-neuroscientist.csl
    the-world-journal-of-biological-psychiatry.csl
    traffic-injury-prevention.csl
    university-for-the-creative-arts-figures.csl
    uspekhi-gerontologii.csl
    veterinary-record.csl
    vodohospodarske-technicko-ekonomicke-informace.csl
    vodohospodarske-technicko-ekonomicke-informace-en.csl
    who-europe-numeric.csl
    wireless-communications-and-mobile-computing.csl
  • edited 11 days ago
    @dstillman @adamsmith
    Thank you both for your comprehensive answers and consideration of this issue.

    The most common biomedical styles have this problem including Vancouver, American Medical Association (AMA), and Nature.

    Based on the discussion, it sounds like there may be a way for me to customize these styles and remove the "second-field-align set". I don't really get the style editor code. How would we do this on our own setups?

    Thank you!!

  • - Go to
    https://editor.citationstyles.org/searchByName/
    - find the style you want to modify and click on Edit
    - click on "Info" on the left and change the title at the bottom right
    - click on "Bibliography" on the left and set second-field-align to blank at the bottom right
    - click on Style at the top left, and click on "Save style" (accept the suggested changes to id and link)
    - double-click the downloaded file to install into Zotero
  • Cheers!

    While this doesn't look good for an in-paper bibliography, it works great as an "export only" style for emails and such. Thanks!
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