'Extra' field and styles

We have a much greater variety of reference types than what is currently supported by Zotero. Custom styles would be good but meanwhile I would like to understand if it is possible to use the Extra field to support additional information fields appended to the existing styles.

The question is, can we add any arbitrary labels to that field and use them in a custom style or is the list of possible labels limited by what CSL specifies?
  • I think it may currently take arbitrary labels, but that's problematic and there's a very good chance that'll not be the case in the future, so I wouldn't rely on this for a workflow
  • edited April 18, 2022
    Thanks for the advice.

    In that case, is there a way to extend existing types to automatically append relevant information to produce a bibliography? For example, for an 'artwork' we need:

    type of artwork
    first venue
    other venues
    prestige of venue
    artist role
    artist contribution (%)
    description (materials)


    This is largely driven by the requirements of institutional reporting for research accounting, funding applications, performance review, etc. that are becoming increasingly common and structured.
  • Type of artwork is “genre”
    Materials is “medium”
    Venue is “event” and “event-place”

    Artist information like that I would just add to the first name field ala
    Jones | Mia (principal, 80%)

    For stuff like prestige of the venue, either store that in the “event” field or in “annote”
  • Thanks. That goes some way there... I shall have to think.

    We also store

    teaching engagements (subjects, courses)
    press mentions (I guess existing types should do here)
    consultancies (advice to business or government)
    leadership/engagement (board/committee membership, editorial, review contributions and the like)

    in the database as one needs to list them in various combinations now and then.

    They are not matching as well. Well, some do, like Presentation or Interview types.

    Any further tips there?
  • At some point I'd wonder if you really want Zotero or if a custom database/spreadsheet wouldn't serve you better. You don't benefit from Zotero's import, you don't benefit from its citation styles, you're constrained by its data model - just doesn't sound like the best tool for the job
  • Very true. But maintaining another tool in a group setting with a changing membership is a pain. Also, the automated formatting of the output is a benefit. But yes, maybe a split...
  • Grant will be item type “project” in a future version of CSL.

    Press mentions I would store as their publication type (magazine article, newspaper article, etc.) and use tags/collections to organize.

    Presentations use presentation.

    Teaching/jobs/qualifications/awards/consulting/service roles — if you want to cite these with a custom style, perhaps use the generic CSL type “document” and store additional information using “annote” or “note” CSL variables
  • Thanks @bwiernik

    How does one use these variables? In the Extra field? I do not see them in the Document item type.

    Project sounds good. Is that coming soon?
  • Yes, you'd have to add them using Annote: Here's some additional information in extra. You can use multiple variables like this as long as they're each on a new line.
  • edited February 1, 2024
    Using Chicago Manual of Style 17th edition (full note), how can I understand what CSL variable from `Extra` the style will use and render? Had a look at the code but using CSL so rarely, I have forgotten all I knew. So, any guidance is welcome, please.

    E.g. in Artwork type,

    Chicago seems to be rendering `event-title` but does it twice, which looks like an error.
    It does not seem to be rendering `event-place`.

  • The variables in Extra behave like any other CSL variables -- which ones are used where and under what conditions, however, can be tricky to figure out in complex styles, so there's no simple answer for that. On the details of Chicago/artwork, see your other thread
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