Multiple in-text citation patterns

  • To revive an old thread, I'm encountering this in my own work. The thing I haven't seen discussed here is that the laudable desire to automatically switch between Author-Date and Numberical citation styles is only possible when the Author-Date is not also a "grammatical" citation.


    Foo has been found to cause bar (Stiles, 2009)
    Foo has been found to cause bar [1]
    Foo has been found to cause bar^1 (ie superscript footnote)

    Can all be reasonably converted between. However when the Author-Date styles get beyond this, conversion is always going to require re-writing the sentence.

    Stiles (2008) found that Foo caused Bar.
    [1] found that Foo caused Bar.

    The [1] version is wrong here. This case might be able to be handled as:

    Stiles [1] found that Foo caused Bar.

    Although I note that ACM style, at least, prefers [1] references at the end of the sentence (and footnote styles prefer that too, I think). The idea mooted above that one inserts two identical citations, one suppressing Year and one supressing Author would work in that situation.

    The possessive citation form is common in some (discursive) fields and tricky:

    Stiles' (2008) argument that Foo caused Bar is moot.
    Stiles' [1] argument that Foo caused Bar is moot.

    (Leaving aside the fact that the second example here would considered odd in fields that use numerical citations; certainly I'd re-write it.)

    This could also be done with two citations, one suppressing author, one suppressing year, with a suffix on the author-only cite.

    So I think that ability to suppress arbitrary parts of the citation is a solution, but I wanted to note that the disconnect between those who think conversion between author-date and numerical is more important than "grammatical" citations simply reflects people's disciplinary backgrounds.

    I'd appreciate the ability to flag a citation usage as "grammatical" (or have some way of searching for citations not at the end of sentences), since I'm going to have to edit those sentances anyway, when switching between author-date and numerical styles. That's something that \citet gives me in Bibtex that the "insert two citations" idea above doesn't. If the Author (Year) and Author's (Year) styles were allowed within a single citation, and there was a way to work through them, that would really enable useful conversion.

    Perhaps if the document contained such "grammatical" cites, then choosing a style that doesn't contain them could flag a warning and have a UI for moving through and editing those sentences.

    So in the end I come down arguing against just the two-suppressed citations, and for an expanded interface for specifying a citation-type.
  • well - I come from a field were both switching between footnotes and author-date and what you call "grammatical" citation are common, so I don't think there is a disconnect between the two.
    I'm just still not really convinced that the authors in a grammatical citation shouldn't just be typed in the word processor. That also, I'd like to note, gets around the having to rewrite citations after conversion and it deals with possessive's

    The usage-scenario were authors in grammatical citations need to follow a certain style - the main argument for changing the current solution - is very murky, because there are just as many styles that don't want, e.g. an ampersand in the text, but do want it in the citation
    - i.e. Smith and Meyer (2001) argue, but (Smith & Meyer 2001).

    I remain skeptical that it is worth the enormous effort to accommodate the very rare scenario of styles prescribing naming patterns in grammatical citations.
  • Thanks adamsmith,

    Just confirming, you don't think that it is common to have to re-write sentences when switching between "grammatical" author-date (as opposed to author-date always in parens)? Perhaps I misunderstood you, do you have examples?

    Are you also saying that you think that grammatical citations are rare? That would be a surprise to many people, I think :)

    I think your mention of Smith and Meyer (2001) vs (Smith & Meyer 2001) is an argument for distinguishing these as different types of citations in the CSL, since different formatting needs to be applied.

    To be clear, I don't expect you, who clearly doesn't need this facility, to do the work, but pointers on how to get started doing it myself would definitely be appreciated.
  • edited January 17, 2010
    Just confirming, you don't think that it is common to have to re-write sentences when switching between "grammatical" author-date (as opposed to author-date always in parens)? Perhaps I misunderstood you, do you have examples?
    that's correct. When I want to write, for example
    "Smith (2009) argues that...." using the "suppress author" button - I'll write (the gramatically correct) "Smith argues that" in my word processor and insert the citation between "Smith" and "argue", checking "suppress author". When I then switch to a numerical or footnoted style this will turn into "Smith [27] argues" or "Smith ^27 argues" (in the latter case I would have to remove a space - but that's not a csl limitation per se).
    Are you also saying that you think that grammatical citations are rare? That would be a surprise to many people, I think :)
    no, not at all. As I said - I use them constantly. But I would claim that it is exceedingly rare that a switch between two author-date citation styles would require a change in the formatting of the authors of such citations - which I believe is the only actual limitation of the current functionality.

    In general, if you want to contribute to csl, this is probably a good place to start:
  • I see what you are saying.

    But even in your description you have to edit the sentence to convert to footnotes. And I do think that some journals prefer all [1] style references at the end of sentences (although given I can't lay my hands on one now we may as well ignore that).

    So I take your point, and am doing the "suppress author" thing in the paper I'm writing at the moment. I think the option to "suppress year" would help, especially avoiding typos and so on, but I think inserting two citations is less elegant/intuitive than a citation marked "grammatical" in some way, especially when it comes to editing/re-writing during conversion.

    In the end it comes down to whether I care enough to (and am able) to contribute :) Thanks for your examples.
  • Possessives and cite positioning within the sentence in the main text ... hmmm ... I think I'm coming back around to adamsmith's take on this, at least for now. Trying to automate the "grammatical" conversions could be a very uncertain process.
  • When I then switch to a numerical or footnoted style this will turn into "Smith [27] argues" or "Smith ^27 argues" (in the latter case I would have to remove a space - but that's not a csl limitation per se).
    I think this is the main issue: Switching between styles still requires a significant amount of manual work. And this doesn’t only affect grammatical citations: Even the very standard case of switching footnote and author-year styles is hardly an automated process:

    This results in that (Meyer 2000).

    This results in that.¹

    ¹) Meyer, Important book, 2000.

    So in this simple case I would have to correct spacing and punctuation (after the citation in the author-year case, before the citation in the footnote case).

    So if the plans are not to completely redesign an ultra-sophisticated citation mechanism that handles all these cases, I’d just acknowledge that switching styles always is a step that requires manual work. And it’s not like I would start every new day by switching citation styles in my papers.
  • For whatever it is worth, I have to switch between
    "Smith [27] argues" or "Smith^27 argues"
    enough that most of my personal styles with bracketed (instead of superscripted) citations include a prefixed non-breaking space in the citation. A non-breaking space is the correct punctuation to use & is a pain to write, so it was useful for me to do this. But there was a complaint or two about the UTF-8 non-breaking space character not rendering right under some circumstances. I still believe that a non-breaking space should prefix a citation in both numeric styles that do not use superscripts and author-date styles in almost all cases. Perhaps the cat is already out of the bag & this can't be done, but I wonder if we can place the burden of automating this on the word processor plugins? It seems too problematic to shoehorn it into a few hundred CSL styles, but I don't think spacing should be an insurmountable problem.
  • edited January 18, 2010
    right, we discussed this before. I think it would be great if we could get a reaction from Dan or Simon on this asap - I still think manually adding the extra space in roughly 150 styles is feasible - it's going to be 2-3hs of work - but if we want to do this we should do it soon.

    Edit: oh I forgot. The problem remains that this will insert unnecessary spaces into existing documents. sigh.
  • right, we discussed this before.
    For those interested, the discussion is here:
  • Just to add another call for being able to specify "suppress brackets" as well as "suppress author". And for us to be able to set general preferences for these so that we don't have to click on two check-boxes for every reference we insert, but they are already pre-set to our preference. This should offer a simple solution to many of the problems mentioned here.
  • Hi,

    I know this is an old post, but here are my 2 pennies on the matter.

    The aim is to get something that can convert properly between author-date and numbered citation styles. And that can convert between author-date citation styles, or between numbered citation styles. As far as my experience goes with Bibtex (or actually I mean Natbib), this is all possible (although not always painless for the style programmer).

    For the conversion from author-date to number we want the following behaviour:
    It was shown that Zotero is awesome (Simply and Storm, 2009). However, Doe et al. (2010) later highlighted some weaknesses. These can be easily overcome by direct code editing (as suggested by Toto et al., 2010). [...] and in a table you may want to have something like: Doe et al., 2010.
    Would become in numeric style (e.g. using brackets):
    It was shown that Zotero is awesome [12]. However, Doe et al. [13] later highlighted some weaknesses. These can be easily overcome by direct code editing (as suggested by [14]). [...] and in a table you may want to have something like: Doe et al., 2010 [13].
    Note the later could just be "[13]" instead of "Doe et al., 2010 [13]".

    If a different author-date style is used, e.g. something more like APA, we could end up with:
    It was shown that Zotero is awesome (Simply & Storm, 2009). However, Doe, Titi & Martin (2010) later highlighted some weaknesses. These can be easily overcome by direct code editing (as suggested by Toto, Dupont & Smith, 2010). [...] and in a table you may want to have something like: Doe et al., 2010.
    If a different numeric style is used, e.g. Nature-like with exponents:
    It was shown that Zotero is awesome12. However, Doe et al.13 later highlighted some weaknesses. These can be easily overcome by direct code editing (as suggested by Toto et al.14). [...] and in a table you may want to have something like: Doe et al., 201013.
    I think these examples make clear why you would want to be able to have the author list without brackets. The APA style, in particular, requires the full author list on the first instance of the citation, and "et al." and subsequent citations. You don't want to have to do that by hand. Note also that you may also want that for numeric styles.

    So I suggest the following functionalities and behaviour:
    • Replace the "suppress author" option with a 3-alternative choice: 'full', 'author' only or 'year only'. The behaviour is straight-forward for author-date styles. For numeric styles, when 'full' and 'year only' are used, use the number only. When 'author only' is used, keep as it is for author-name.
    • Add a tick-box 'without brackets'.
    • For numeric styles, a conditional space should be available in the style to tell the word processor plugin to determine whether a space must be used or not (equivalent to \xspace in Latex).
    To sum up, here are tables with the expected behaviours for all combinations, with the generated output in bold:

    with bracketsblah (Doe et al., 2010) blahblah (Doe et al.) blahblah (2010) blah
    without bracketsblah Doe et al., 2010 blahblah Doe et al. blahblah 2010 blah

    with bracketsblah [13] blahblah (Doe et al.) blahblah [13] blah
    without bracketsblah [13] blahblah Doe et al. blahblah 2010 blah
    Now it is fair to add that complete interoperability between author-date and numeric citation is a dream (especially with spaces). The two systems exist for very good reasons, and authors exploit these reasons to their maximum. So although it might be possible to automatically process 90% of occurrences, there'll always be the 10 odd % that need manual correction. This is balanced by the fact that in general, fields tend to stick to one habit and switching from one to the other is actually not so common (although, of course, I only base this impression on the fields I know). But the consequence is that there is no 100% good solution. The best thing that can be done is to have a predictable and consistent behaviour, then from there we find a way to minimize the need for manual corrections. So maybe if people propose their expected behaviour we can work out something not too complicated.

  • Hi all,

    New Zotero user and I absolutely love it except for the absence of something comparable to \citet. This is very close to a deal-breaker so I hope the powers that be at Zotero have come around on this or someone has developed a workaround.

    Typing in the authors' names manually seems very clunky & mistake-prone. (We like bibliography software exactly to avoid hand-typing bibliographic information.) For example, what if the order of names changes between draft and publication, or you realize you (or the journal's citation provider, etc) have mis-spelled a name or made some other error.

    The "suppress date" + "no parentheses" (with a second suppress authors + with parentheses citation) solution proposed above seems quite workable.

    Best regards and thanks for the excellent program.

    - BL
  • no, nothing of the kind exists or is close to being implemented.
  • Very disappointing, but thanks for letting us know.

    Hope this changes, it's a severe limitation.
  • I would like jump in late on this one: In contrast to some voices, especially in the beginning of the discussion, I want to stress that this limitation is not minor, but really relevant (as many of the participants seem to agree on). I am not experienced in programming plugins like zotero, so one question: would it be very hard to programm a solution like someone proposed earlier?:
    Change the "supress author name" checkbox to a dropdown menu with three options "full citation", "year (in parentheses)", and "Author name(s)".
    When changing to numbered or footnote styles, it should then be easy to leave all "Author name(s)" in the text and exchange the "year (in parentheses)" by the number.
    This sounds not too complicated to me, or am I missing something here?

    In fact on my search, why something like this is not (yet) implemented, I found a hand full of other threads where no one gave an answer but just a "search the forum" reply. This should show that this is not a minor issue and limitation, but many people would very much appreciate such a feature.

    Best Regards.
  • edited October 6, 2013
    I agree with imichalak's suggested fix.

    I am trying to use Zotero to mention references in a 'conversational' type way, such as the following sentence:

    Chicago biplane story from Sieden (1989, pp. 352–53) and Fuller (1975, p. 80).

    Right now, as far as I can tell, my only option to do this in conjunction with Zotero is to "suppress author name", which only inserts the "(1989, pp. 352–53)" text. I then have to manually type "Sieden" before the bracketed autotext.

    Naturally this leaves me open to issues associated with the author's name not being connected to the master reference list. e.g. typo changes in the reference list not propagating to the individual citations in my document.

    Can anyone on the dev team advise whether they will consider adding a 'dropdown menu' replacement for "suppress author name", as suggested by imichalak, above. Or if there is some other key workaround which I am overlooked.
  • edited October 6, 2013
    I don't write the plugin. But given that it didn't make it into the re-written plugin, I don't think anyone on the dev team is terribly interested in doing this so I doubt it's going to happen soon. (And, I'm also skeptical about implementing a solution that does produce consistently incorrect citations for the single most common author-date style in the US (and probably beyond), i.e. the APA manual, which requires authors to be cited differently inside and outside of the parentheses (& vs. and).

    I've spent way too much time discussing this already, so there is no need to try to involve me in a discussion this will remain my only new post on this, just take it as a heads-up for where we are and likely will be for the foreseeable future.
  • @aneurysm1985,

    As adamsmith says, there are no plans to add an option to automatically insert the author name in-text in author-date styles.

    If all you need is a fixed "conversational" citation format, you could set that up in a custom style. But combining it with conventional citation forms is not possible.
  • @fbennett

    Thanks for the answer.

    Noob here. Can you point me in the direction of setting up a custom style.

    Would I just download a CSL file for a style I like, and then adjust the in-text citation format, so the citation is listed as:

    Surname (1989, pp. 352–53)

    ...instead of...

    (Surname, 1989, pp. 352–53)

    Thanks in advance.
  • that's pretty easy. You remove the parentheses in prefix and suffix from the layout line of the citation section and put them around the year and locator part. E.g. for APA you'd find:
    <layout prefix="(" suffix=")" delimiter="; ">
    <group delimiter=", ">
    <text macro="author-short"/>
    <text macro="issued-year"/>
    <text macro="citation-locator"/>

    and change it to

    <layout delimiter="; ">
    <text macro="author-short"/>
    <group prefix=" (" suffix=")" delimiter=", ">
    <text macro="issued-year"/>
    <text macro="citation-locator"/>

    other styles will work similarly.
    has general instruction.
    As fbennett says, though, that means those types of citations are the only thing you can do.
  • If this is really important to you, you might consider using pandoc + zotxt or zot4rst. You can then use markdown like:

    According to @doe:2005book, climate change is irreversible.

    Climate change is irreversible (see @doe:2005book for a detailed
    review of literature).

    Chicago biplane story from @doe:2005book [pp. 352–53] and @doe:2006article [p. 80].
    and it will be rendered as follows:

    According to Doe (2005), climate change is irreversible.

    Climate change is irreversible (see Doe (2005) for a detailed review of literature).

    Chicago biplane story from Doe (2005, 352–53) and Doe (2006, 1975, p. 80).

    More information here:

    And see my zotero extension for an easy way to get your citations from Zotero to pandoc:
  • Hey guys, I also jump in late because I just recently encountered a similar problem. Following the discussion I can see and agree to that Zotero would loose many advantages when implementing bibtext-like features. I also can see that nobody's interested in doing so

    I have one suggestion though that Zotero supporters could actually like:

    I use simple inline citations in brackets and sometimes enter contextual cites like you guys, e.g. Smith et al. (1998) and sometimes I use indented multiple line citations an put the author beneath it with a dash, e.g. "…" — Doe 2005, 325

    Now, I am normally doing this by using the editor in the, now called, classic citation manager and wouldn't consider it a big hassle to do so. As we know, this way, changes in the metadata will not be reflected in the citation.

    BUT: What if the editor would just have two little buttons to add [author] and [date] as fields which then are managed by zotero?

    I'd consider that a good solution, because it would give everyone the opportunity to make individually formatted, jet updateable citations from time to time without adding unnecessary and complicated features.
    Plus, the editor would finally become "useful".

    What do you think?
  • I agree that having the flexibility to insert fields such as [author-surname] and [date], associated with a particular reference ID would be a great feature.

    However, I am not a programmer, nor am I associated with the Zotero development team, so I don't know how to take this any further towards being an implemented feature.

  • I would like to add a few points to this discussion.

    To me, the "suppress author" workaround presented creates way more problems than an implementation of \citet \citep natbib-like functionality would.

    Zotero is meant to create variable fields for citations and that is its big advantage over manual citation management. Once we start entering parts of a citation manually, the advantage vanishes.

    Say I have two references with three authors, where the first two authors are identical (so only the third is different). Zotero would know this, and add the second reference as (Author1, Author2 et al, year).

    Now, when I do this manually I would likely not pay attention to this. Or I might add a reference to my library later and would have to go back and change all the "suppress author"-manual type of of citations later.

    Let's be honest. The document style should not be changed all the time and it will always imply that we have to go through the doc and make sure everything is in order.

    But the alteration of /citep and /citet like citations while writing is very, very common. The workaround needs, both, a lot more time when writing and is prone to introduce user made errors.

    Zotero should be designed so to minimize user-made, manual alterations in the document, so to ensure that individual citations are updated globally. The way we are currently altering Author (Year) and (Author, Year), this is not the case.
  • Checking in to see if the powers that be at Zotero have seen the light on this.

    Manually typing in author names is not a solution.
  • edited February 11, 2015
    I'm going to be a bore on this and chime in too.

    To review the case for this feature, not having the option of an inbuilt author (date) format is problematic for several reasons:

    1) As noted before, using the suppress author or manual citation edit feature increases the risk of manual error (e.g., a typo) resulting in the citation displayed in the document itself being incorrect.

    2) It also means that any change or correction to the authors' names made within the Zotero library will not be reflected in the citation.

    3) And it means that subsequent changes to the other citations in the document that should change how the citation in author (date) format is displayed will not actually do so. This is a frequent problem for me: In APA style, citations to sources with 3-5 authors are meant to include all of the authors' name in the first citation, but use "et al" for subsequent citations. Keeping track of whether a particular citation is the first or a subsequent citation over the course of revisions to a large document like a PhD thesis is a nightmare.

    Problems like (3) in particular are a part of the reason why people want to use reference managers in the first place. We don't want to be using cognitive resources to keep track of which citations are and aren't included in documents, and how each should be displayed.

    In my case, I find that this issue does actually affect how I write: I end up trying to reformat Author (Date) citations as (Author, Date) to avoid hassles when subsequently revising. At times this leads to sub-optimal sentence structure.

    I understand that it sounds like this is not an easy fix, and one of the specific problems I'm raising is really due only to another irritating vagary of APA style. But it would really be brilliant if a solution was implemented within Zotero at some point.
  • I wonder how many others like me have read through this discussion, sighed in disappointment, and then continued to use only part of Zotero because the other part didn't meet their needs.

    For me, the word plug-in could be amazing, but this issue is the deal-breaker. So I continue to use Zotero in the browser to collect my bibliography and produce the references, but then I am forced to manually check all of my in-line citations throughout my document to make sure that the correct ones have et al as opposed to the author list, etc. It's either that or rewrite everything so that all citations are at the end of sentences.
  • Reading through the older posts more carefully, it seems like a major objection to implementing an "author (date)" citation is that this would harm the ability to switch between arbitrary styles, including from author-date to footnote.

    The response I'd give to this is that a similar problem exists already whenever the manual citation editor is used. In that case the user is explicitly warned about the consequences of using the editor. We all seem comfortable with the idea that users may want to take advantage of the extra freedom of the manual editor, and in doing so be willing to risk the possibility that, among other things, future style changes will require manual corrections.

    I get that switching a document with author (date) citations to footnotes could result in grammatical problems and not just reference style problems. But I'm not sure that there's a compelling reason to say that we're willing for a switch in styles to result in one type of problem but never the other. Why not let the user decide what they're willing to risk?

    An option in the GUI for author (date) format could simply be accompanied by a warning that use of this option may mean that later switching to a footnote style could result in the need for manual revision of the sentence containing the citation.
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