Change language in Zotero/Firefox

I just wanted to share this with the community since I have noticed that many have problems with changing language in Zotero.

I am a Norwegian, but most of my papers are written in English.

An easy, non-technical way to change the language in Zotero/Firefox is to install the 'Quick Locale Switcher' add-on in Firefox.

When you want to change language just go to Tools --> Quick Locale Switcher and select your language.

This works with Windows and I think it should also work with other distributions as well.
  • An update to my previous comment.

    This does not work in Ubuntu - only in Windows...

    See my post here...
  • Nice, works well on XP + OpenOffice
  • I´ll channel this advice from Dan, e.g. for Ubuntu users:

    "If you want English bibliographies in a non-English version of Firefox, set the extensions.zotero.export.bibliographyLocale hidden pref to en-US in about:config. This will be exposed in the UI at some point. "

    (I assume this would also work with other languages)
  • Can you please give me a link to the quick locale switcher? I just can't find it here!
  • First hit with Google (searching for "Quick Locale Switcher"):
  • Thanks, great!
    I thought that it's a Zotero specific add-on and not a generic Firefox extension :S
  • Wouldn't it be better if Zotero took the ui-language from Firefox but still the user could change it in the Zotero preferences?
  • edited November 27, 2010
    There are two locales to be controlled in Zotero, one for the UI in the browser itself, and one for citation output via CSL. The UI just follows the Firefox locale, as far as I know. Control over the CSL locale is in flux at the moment, but the developers are working on providing clean and simple control over it via Preferences.
  • Dear all,

    is there a version out now that works in Ubuntu? Or can you recommend another tool that does? I have to switch forth and back between languages so I would be happy to know a user-friendly way.

  • Same problem here.

    I'm using Zotero on Kubuntu. I'm German, but working with bibtex in latex documents, so I wanted to see the labels of my references in English, for translations are sometimes a fuzzy thing (e.g. when it comes to guessing the difference between "Zeitschriftenartikel" and "Magazinartikel" I draw a blank - hence I need to see the labels according to the bibtex-documentations).

    Since the UI-language-changing-thing ( seems to work with Windows only (already tried, nothing happended) and I don't need the bibliography language changed (that is done later by the latex packages) I'd appreciate another possibility to change the language of the zotero-UI.

    Thanks a lot.
  • Thanks for the hint. Unfortunately, that didn't do anything helpful. Neither Zotero's, nor the Firefox interface changes language, only some webpages which seem to create content language-sensitive show a difference. (Yes, I got the change-language-for-UI-box in the preferences checked.) I assume the QLS doesn't do much more than change the same value I set before manually (see above).

    Thanks again, if someone has got another idea, I'd appreciate the help. I think about moving on to biblatex, but obviously, the problem given here stays the same even as some labels of the bibentries differ.
  • edited April 6, 2011
    I also thought that it was not working when I first installed it, but it actually is the tool for the job.

    Check the setting of Quick Locale Switcher carefully. By default, it sets only the preferred content language, but there is a configuration option in its preferences settings that lets you change the interface language (and leave the language of output untouched).
  • Hm. You're actually right. I didn't change the setting, since I already did that before, but continued closing and re-starting Firefox. Mysteriously, with the third time came the change. Thank you.
  • AFAIU there's work going on to implement the feature: easy cite in the language you want.

    I'd like to raise a suggestion I don't think has been raised on how to implement that feature. I hope it's not too late to be taken into account. If technically possible, the citation should really use the language defined in OpenOffice (I guess it's more or less the same in Word) for the cited text. That is: insert a zotero citation into OpenOffice. Highlight the text, right-click and edit the style of the paragraph. There, in the Font settings, you can select the language. The citation should automatically update to reflect that language choice. The language is set automatically by OpenOffice depending on the global language of the document, is used e.g. for spell checking, and can be changed on a per-paragraph basis and using proper OpenOffice Styles. Very practical for power users.

    Nothing more is needed, IMHO, for zotero proper citing language support. No zotero UI global export language preference need to be used in that case (broken because needs to be changed each time). No per-document zotero specific language setting (broken because you already told your word processor which language to use, e.g. for spell checking or proper hyphenating and you don't want to repeat it). Plus, it adds the possibility of
    1) having multiple citations in different languages in a same typewriter document.
    2) changing your mind and translating in a click of one button (using OpenOffice styles support) all already-entered citations in a document.
  • This is a nice suggestion and it would be great if it could be taken into account. A big question is how well information such as the current language is exposed to integration plugins and how reliable that information is. I also foresee some issues with multiple languages in a single document-- I know that the per-paragraph language settings can get really messy for people writing in multiple languages, and I don't know how Zotero would know which language is the correct one for the document. Each citation could well be in a different language context, but they'll still all need to be formatted per a single stylesheet, using a locale defined by the style (having citations in multiple bibliographic locales is still an unsolved problem, and the way to fix it is not to tie it to word processor language settings, but rather to item language settings).
  • edited April 20, 2011
    In the word processor plugin, multilingual Zotero doesn't actually have any style settings directly tied to the language of the target document. The problem it addresses is the presentation of citations to materials written in languages other than those understood by (some of) the target audience. There are a variety of ways in which transliterations and translations can be added to or substituted for the original details of a foreign language citation, and those choices need to be controlled by Zotero, through default preferences or document-level settings in the plugin. Further down the road, it might be useful to "bundle" the common language settings of a user for writing in specific contexts, and tying a specific set of choices to particular languages as their default setting might be quite useful.
  • Hi all,

    I am currently editing a bibliography in Italian. I would like to use the "" system instead of the «» system. I have edited my MS Word settings in order to avoid automatic correction.
    Unfortunately, with Zotero set to output in Italian (through about:config, biblio, etc...) the bibliography always shows «» instead of "" (e.g. in book chapters)
    I can substitute all of them, but whenever I refresh, this turns back to the unwanted solution...any help?


  • you can set the language to English in about:config or you can modify the quotation marks in the locale section of the specific style you're using:
    See here in general
    look at the locale files here for the syntax specific to quotation marks:

    and see here: for general tips on modifying styles.
  • Thank you adamsmith.
    I do not want to change the language to English. I have just changed it to Italian, just because otherwise other citation problems would occure (e.g. edited by is "a cura di" in Italian, etc...)
    As for changing the style, are you sure you DO can change the type of quotation marks? I fear this may have more to see with Word automatic formatting...

    Thank you

  • yes I'm sure, that's why I posted the links.
  • Thank you, adamsmith

    I have read the links and I think I have identified the syntax for the quotation marks. However, I was not able to find the locale of the style I am using (a modified version of Chicago author-date). Can you help me please?

    Thanks in advance

  • where no default locale is given in the style, Zotero takes the locale of the Firefox installation - in your case that's it-IT
  • Ok, and how can I find and modify it?

    Thank you

  • you wouldn't modify the locale itself. You would redefine specific terms of the locale in the style

    e.g. this from the link here:

    <locale xml:lang="en">
    <term name="editortranslator" form="short">
    <single>ed. &amp; trans.</single>
    <multiple>eds. &amp; trans.</multiple>

    changes the term name for editortranslator for the English locale.
    You want something like
    <locale xml:lang="it-IT">
    <term name="open-quote">“</term>
    <term name="close-quote">”</term>
    <term name="open-inner-quote">‘</term>
    <term name="close-inner-quote">’</term>

    right after the info section of the style, i.e. right after </info>
  • Thank you,

    but since we agreed that my style has no default locale, were should I redefine the specific part as suggested?
  • just put it in the style as I explain above. It'll work.
  • I worked so smoothly! Thank you!

  • It is super simple.
    I the Word Plug in, go to Document preferences (inside the Zotero tab), then you will se the list of citation styles you have, right underneath of it, there is an option to change the citaiton lenguage.
    good luck
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