Intercompatability Between Word and LibreOffice

Hi Everyone,
I'm writing a joint review article for Biochemistry. I exclusively use Linux (LibreOffice) and the other individual uses Windows with MS Office. I figured that Zotero would be the best choice for collaborating on this. Last night, I tried to merge the two articles. I had him give me his version with all of the citations in it, then I added my text and was going to then add my citations to the merged copy, hopefully preserving the numbering and such. I got the error that there was incompatible field encoding and that we needed to format it as bookmarks. If I remember correctly, when he tried to do that, the choice was grayed out as bookmarks are not compatible with certain style types. Does anyone know if there is a way around this or am I just going to have to work on this on a Windows computer with Office?
Thanks in advance for any information,
  • you can't use bookmarks for note-based styles like Chicago manual. And the only way to co-author with Word and Libre Office is to use bookmarks.

    The workaround is to use bookmarks and write in a different style, then, once you 're done, convert a copy of the merged document to Fields (in Word) or Reference Marks (in LO) and then change the style to Chicago. That's not perfect, but that's the best there is.

    If you use a different style, do remember that the spacing for footnotes and author date citations is different and Zotero does _not_ auto-correct that. I.e. for footnotes you have
    "an important point1"
    whereas for author-date you have
    "an important point (Smith 1776)"
    i.e. with an extra space - you don't want to put that there if you plan to convert the document, even if it looks weird, i.e. you'll write "an important point(Smith 1776)"
  • Thanks for the input! It actually seems like he was able to get the bookmarks option to work. I had him send me his library and I imported it into my library and opened his file. It's giving me the "citation no longer exists in your Zotero database" prompt for reference 1 whenever I try to make a change to anything. How do I go about properly importing his library into mine so that it can porperly locate the references?
  • The best way would be for him to check the "Restore References in Document" before sending you the document.
    Using import won't work. The only other ways is to use all citations from a group you're both members in.
  • OK, thanks! He's getting an error about Zotero crashing whenever he tries to save it that way (that's how I told him he needed to save it initially, it just doesn't seem to be working). There's not that many references in it, so I created a group for the paper and imported all of my references into it, so hopefully we can get this to work. I wish I had been aware of this before! It looks pretty slick.
  • For me, the most obvious solution for working across Windows and Linux platforms has been to use LibreOffice in both. Obviously, that's tricky if your collaborators aren't willing to do that, but if there are only one or two, they might be persuadable.
  • As someone who's just starting with Zotero and uses MS office pro 2010 on win 7 in the office and libreoffice on ubuntu at home, with a shared library through dropbok (although I imagine this is no different to if it was on zotero), are there any potential pitfalls to avoid or things I should do now before I get weeks down the line and need to restart?

    Thanks in advance!
  • don't share your library through dropbox:

    I can't emphasize the risk of database corruption enough, really, don't do this.

    Bookmarks are a little more fragile than Reference marks, so you want to make sure you have version controlled back-ups of your file, but typically this will just work.
    Note that you can't use bookmarks for footnote-based citation style in LibreOffice. If you do need a footnoted style, write in an author-date style and convert at the end on either one of your computers.
  • Nice one, thanks. I've asked the zotpad folks for a bit of clarity on that article since the most important paragraph is missing words and doesn't make sense! :P
  • you can ask here, too - we know the answers and mronkko (Zotpad's developer) is reading these forums, too.
  • Ah, ok, thanks a lot Adam. Mikko's already gotten back to me on the site so hopefully I can get this setup correctly tonight.

    Along those lines then, a question which is related to, but slightly off, the previous topic: Coming from a position of already having PDFs in topic-named subfolders, I see zotero wants to create its own folder structure in a similar way iPods that do. It looks like zotero absolutely needs that structure to function, thus after importing those files from my local directory, each one is essentially duplicated into the zotero folder, doubling dropbox use.
    Since I can physically get to the file using "show file", and can highlight/annotate directly onto the pdfs using John's suggestion here: , it feels like there's no need for me to bother structuring my own folders for PDfs any more, rather I should dump them into zotero, manage them from there, & delete the local saves?


  • Yes, you should let Zotero manage the PDFs. If you do this, there is really no reason to use Dropbox at all. Using a WebDAV provider (e.g is easier to set up and stays in sync better than Dropbox. You can also get more support for that here at the forums.
  • Just had a thorough read of Mikko's comparison of storage options and am on the CloudMe site as we speak - cheers for letting me know.
  • Isn't there some way the developers could make the citationsbetween LO & Word compatible? I only have a Linux system; my publisher only uses Word on Windows. There has to be a better way than putting everything in Chicago author-date (which my field NEVER uses) and then switching to Chicago full-note (which my field requires) at the very end.
  • this is a limitation of Bookmarks, so no. But I really don't see the problem - with the status quo.
    You can also write in Reference Marks and Chicago author/date and only convert to author-date/bookmarks before sending to your publisher.
    (And why do your citation need to be compatible with your publisher? Do they actually use Zotero in the workflow?)
  • I have to submit the ms with my citations in the format my publisher requires. I don't understand why this _isn't_ a problem--you have a widely used citation format here that you're not supporting. The biggest issue is that when you move from a document in .odt to .doc, the citations become locked and/or disappear entirely. That's why there needs to be a solution that allows use of the correct citation format across both applications.
  • right, but why do you need to send your book/manuscript to your publisher with active Zotero citation fields? That seems like a very unusual requirement - e.g. the Chicago Manual specific says to remove field codes from citations:
    Moreover, citations in manuscripts submitted to publishers should be presented as ordinary text, stripped of any of the underlying codes (e.g., fields or hyperlinks) used in creating or organizing them.
    So the standard workflow for working with a publisher would be:
    1. Write in LO with reference marks and CMoS full note
    2. Save a copy of your document as .doc or .docx to send to your publisher
    3. Make any edits s/he requests in your .odt copy.

    If for some reason you do need to send live Zotero citation fields - more likely with a co-author - either you agree to work with an author-date style for editing, or you just send the document with citations in author-date and change to Fields/Reference Marks and notes when you get it - that's three mouse clicks and one return.
  • Hello,

    I would like to ask if there has been any recent progress on the Microsoft/LibreOffice inter-compatibility front since 2013. I am new to Zotero and the way I handle collaboration with non-Linux users is as described in adamsmith's previous comment with the 3 steps.

    I can't say that this method isn't working. However as an advocate for open-source I find it difficult to convince others to try Zotero as they usually balk at the extra steps (and from my experience it can get confusing if you simultaneously work on multiple documents, each with their own versions and odt/doc copies).

    It would be great to be able to reconcile the two citation processes and would eliminate what I see as the only major drawback to an otherwise excellent piece of software.
  • I'm pretty sure there is no other software that would be able to do this as it's a LibreOffice limitation -- so this isn't really about Zotero being open source.

    Also note that this is only about using citations in footnotes. For other citations you can just use .doc/.docx and Bookmarks and coauthor with Word and LibreOffice.
  • Thanks adamsmith, one of my articles had to be formatted with footnotes which explains why I had some trouble.

    I understand better now and hope that Libreoffice will clear this limitation in the future.
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