issue inserting bibliography

Dear Colleague,
Each time I try to add my bibliography to the bottom of my text, I get a pop up called "Edit Bibliography". I have no intention of editing the bibliography there, but if there is a problem with a reference, I'd like to know so I can fix it. What do I need to do to have Zotero insert my bibliography? Or inform me of the problem so I can troubleshoot?
Many thanks for any advice.
  • That just means you already have a bibliography in the document, though you might have deleted part or all of the visible text.

    If you don't see it, toggle Word field codes and look for ZOTERO_BIBL, delete it completely (including any shaded part, depending on your Word field shading setting), toggle field codes back, and insert a new bibligraphy.
  • Great. If I have a document of a few hundred pages, is there an easy way to find the (possibly hidden) bibliography?
  • If you show field codes, the field codes are searched by Word, so ZOTERO_BIBL would find it.
  • Thank you. I did find one. I also found a reference missing in the text leaving only "_," It pushes me to ask you: are there other ways I could check through the text for missing references?
  • I also found a reference missing in the text leaving only "_,"
    What do you mean? Was there a field that only had "_" for the field code? What was its text? What do you mean by "missing references"?
  • When I was reading through the full version I happened upon this: "... decision-making _, signalling ..." The _, looked strange all by itself. Sure enough, there was a reference missing. So I retyped in the reference. It simply made me nervous that there are others that I haven't spotted in the text somewhere.
  • This is certainly not Zotero's doing or at least we have not had any reports of anything like this from Zotero before. If you see this again you should try using the Add/Edit Citation button on the "_" and see whether Zotero considers that a Zotero inserted citation (or will it just insert a new citation next to it).
  • Thank you for getting back to me. I did just that. After 7 minutes, I started typing this response. Suddenly the system finished, reverted back to my document where it wrote {Citation} as if it was in the process of editing a citation. So I started the process again and watched for Zotero progress via the page numbers. When it reached the end, I got an error message asking if I want to see troubleshooting information. I noticed then that my bibliography had been deleted. Would simply retyping the paragraph and relinking citations fix the issue?
  • Once again, I am not sure what you are describing. Can you be more precise in what buttons and in what order you pressed, what you saw on the screen at each step, and what was the final state of both Zotero and your document. Also please submit a Report ID.
  • @JulieKo: Are you saying it took 7 minutes between clicking Add/Edit Citation and "{Citation}" appearing in the document? To be clear, "{Citation}" would appear when the citation dialog is open, and wouldn't indicate a problem, so you should make sure the citation dialog isn't just behind the main Zotero window. If you try to do other things in the document while the citation dialog is open, it's very likely you'll get an error.

    But a 7-minute delay between clicking Add/Edit Citation and the citation dialog appearing would certainly not be normal. A Report ID and clear steps to reproduce would be the first step to debugging further, though.
  • Thanks for asking. Here are the steps I took yesterday after reading your advice:
    1) I went to the "_", clicked to cover it and with the mouse, clicked Add/Edit Citation button. The system immediately reacted as if checking an already made citation.
    2) I didn't see any movement for 7 minutes so I thought it froze. I started typing my earlier response (above).
    3) As I was typing the first 3 words, the system reacted and reverted back to my document where it wrote into the document "{Citation}".
    4) Thinking that I should watch the bottom of the document (word count) to see if shows what Zotero is doing so I will know when it is done or freezes, I re-started the exact same process.
    5) This time the system took 10 minutes to get through the pages all by itself. But at the end of the 10 minutes of Zotero going through what it needed to, it sent me an error message saying something went wrong and asking if I want to see troubleshooting information.
    6) That is when I checked the end of the document and saw that my bibliography had been deleted.
    7) Not wanting to delete my bibliography, I used the back arrow to go backwards to repair the bibliography.

    Therefore, it was a 7-minute process the first time and a 10-minute process the second time. I'm not sure if all of this was captured properly, but the Report ID is 1630133668. Does that help?
  • As I was typing the first 3 words, the system reacted and reverted back to my document where it wrote into the document "{Citation}".
    Right, so at that point, there's a good chance the citation dialog actually appeared, and it just went behind your other windows, and the error may have just been from trying to do something else while that was already open.
    Not wanting to delete my bibliography, I used the back arrow to go backwards to repair the bibliography.
    I'm not sure what back button you're referring to (Undo, do you mean?), but unless you've added uncited items or made other manual customizations with Add/Edit Bibliography, there's never a problem just deleting the bibliography, and that's always an easy thing to try. When you use the plugin, the bibliography is just a representation of the citations in your document. You can delete it at any point and reinsert it, and that's in fact a standard troubleshooting step.

    If you can reproduce the 10-minute delay, we'd be curious to see a Debug ID (different from a Report ID) for an operation that's slow, after restarting Zotero. But to actually fix any errors you're getting with the document, follow the debugging steps, including deleting the bibliography. As explained there, in a copy of the document, if you can isolate a small section of the document that results in an error, it'd be great if you could that to us to look at it. But you also should be able to fix any problems in the document by following those steps.
  • Thank you for helping. When I follow the instructions, I get multiple pop up messages and don't understand what to do with them all simultaneously. I have made screenshots and am happy to send them to you if you tell me where. The latest Debug ID is D2115491393.
  • You can either upload the screenshots somewhere (e.g., Dropbox) and provide a link here or email them to with a link to this thread.
  • @JulieKo: But if you're referring to a message about modified citations, we don't need to see screenshots. That means what it says — the citations were modified somehow, and Zotero needs to know if you want to keep the edits (which it will show you for "Current"), preventing further updates by Zotero, or revert to the original ("Original"), which will allow it to continue updating the citations. Assuming you didn't make the edits on purpose (which you generally never should), you should say No to revert the changes.
  • edited December 12, 2020
    (Though I'm not sure what you mean by "simultaneously". You shouldn't be getting multiple popups at the same time.)
  • @JulieKo: I'm not clear on what the screenshots you sent are meant to show or what the current problem is that you're facing, if any. If you're currently experiencing a problem that's not addressed by Troubleshooting Errors in Word Processor Documents, we'll need you to explain what it is.

    For what it's worth, though not pictured in the screenshots, I suspect the "_" you referred to above was simply a citation that you had accidentally erased the text for, paired with the dashed-underline that Zotero adds to citations when you have "Automatically update citations" disabled to indicate that you haven't yet refreshed the document. The easiest solution with any broken citation is just to erase it completely — making sure you delete the whole thing — and reinsert it.

    One of your screenshots shows the prompt to disable "Automatically update citations" (which appears if an update takes a long time), suggesting that you didn't have that off for the whole process. If you're working in a large document, you'll definitely want to leave that off, which should avoid the delay you were seeing when clicking Add/Edit Citation. A final Refresh can still take a very long time on a Mac — minutes — but insertions should be relatively fast. See Faster Citing in Large Documents to make sure you understand how that works.
  • edited December 15, 2020
    @JulieKo: Regarding the email you just sent, a couple things:

    1) When you see the modified-citation prompt, if you didn't mean to modify the citation, you should be clicking No to revert to the original version, not Yes. If you click Yes, you will end up with the empty/corrupted modified citation that the dialog is warning you about.

    2) One of your screenshots shows you editing the file in Google Docs in .docx mode. If you're doing that with the same document you're editing in Word, that's almost certainly a source of the problems you're seeing. You can't edit a Word document you're using with Zotero in Google Docs without transferring it to Google Docs, following the special process documented on that page, as a native Google Docs document (not in the Google Docs .docx mode).
  • Thank you very much for your message.
    - I clicked "YES" to the error message having read the error message and thinking if I clicked "NO" it would prevent future updates. I will most certainly click "NO" now.
    - Thank you for mentioning editing in a Google Doc. Some software I used temporarily transferred my Word docs into Google docs and I didn't notice. I will revert back to the Word document and continue.
    - I went through the steps again. The first issue had already been resolved. When I clicked add/edit citation and waited, the second issue resolved itself. The Debug ID to show this is D557270061, if that helps.
    Thanks in advance!
  • If it's working now, no need for further Debug IDs, but let us know if you have any further trouble. But there's a good chance that opening the file in Google Docs without transferring it properly is what causing trouble here.
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