Cite as you Write

PSA: as of Zotero 5.0.71, access to the CAYW URL will no longer work from the browser for security reasons; curl and other programmatic access such as from editors access will work.

Good news for TeXnicians and those down with Mark (aka Markdown, RST, whatnot): this is the time to go pester the author of your favorite editor for Zotero integration!

Editor integration


Graciously supplied by David Lukes:

paste it in your .vimrc (and modify to your liking):

function! ZoteroCite()
  " pick a format based on the filetype (customize at will)
  let format = &filetype =~ '.*tex' ? 'citep' : 'pandoc'
  let api_call = ''.format.'&brackets=1'
  let ref = system('curl -s '.shellescape(api_call))
  return ref

noremap <leader>z "=ZoteroCite()<CR>p
inoremap <C-z> <C-r>=ZoteroCite()<CR>

This inserts the citation at the cursor using the shortcut ctrl-z (in insert mode) or <leader>z (in normal, visual etc. modes, <leader> being backslash by default).

Zotero Citations for Atom

A sample implementation of real integration (rather than the working-but-clunky workarounds using paste) can be found in the Zotero Citations package for the Atom editor.

VS Code Citation Picker for Zotero

If you don’t feel like typing citations out (and let’s be honest, you don’t), executing VS Code Citation Picker for Zotero extension for the VS Code editor will call up a graphical picker which will insert these for you, formatted and all.

Scrivener 2.0/Marked 2 for Mac

Dave Smith has gracefully written instructions on how to set up Scrivener 2.0 and Marked 2 for OSX to use the CAYW picker, including ready-to-run apps

Scrivener 1.0 for Windows

Emilie has writen instructions for using the CAYW picker for Scrivener 1.0 in Windows 10, with the necessary files


  • Emma Reisz has gracefully written instructions and scripts for setting up CAYW on Linux.
  • ConorIA has more versatile solution called zotero4overleaf, which was inspired by Emma’s scripts. This should allow use with Overleaf, which is pretty insane that it’s possible if you think about it.


David Lukes takes Overleaf integration one step further with a GreaseMonkey/TamperMonkey userscript which not only allows popping up the CAYW picker straight from your browser, no other tools required, but adds a hotkey to refresh your bib file on Overleaf. This should work with the free subscription, no fiddling with git or dropbox required.


BBT exposes an URL at 1. The url accepts the following URL parameters:

probe If set to any non-empty value, returns ready. You can use this to test whether BBT CAYW picking is live; it will not pop up the picker
format Set the output format
clipboard Any non-empty value will copy the results to the clipboard
minimize Any non-empty value will minimize Zotero windows after a pick
texstudio Any non-empty value will try to push the pick to TeXstudio
selected Any non-empty value will use the current selection in Zotero rather than popping up the pick window

The following formats are available:

  • latex. Generates natbib citation commands. Extra URL parameters allowed:
    • command: the citation command to use (if unspecified, defaults to cite)
  • cite is an alias for latex with the assumption you want the cite command to be cite
  • biblatex. Generates biblatex citation commands. Extra URL parameters allowed:
    • command: the citation command to use (if unspecified, defaults to autocite)
  • mmd: MultiMarkdown
  • pandoc. Accepts additional URL parameter brackets; any non-empty value surrounds the citation with brackets
  • asciidoctor-bibtex
  • scannable-cite for the ODF scanner
  • formatted-citation: output formatted citation as per the current Zotero quick-export setting, if it is set to a citation style, and not an export format
  • formatted-bibliography: output formatted bibliography as per the current Zotero quick-export setting, if it is set to a citation style, and not an export format
  • translate invokes a Zotero export translator. Extra URL parameters allowed:
    • translator: stripped name of one of the BBT translators (lowercased, remove ‘better’, and only the letters, e.g. biblatex or csljson), or a translator ID. Defaults to biblatex.
    • exportNotes: set to true to export notes
    • useJournalAbbreviation: set to true to use journal abbreviations
  • json: the full pick information Zotero provides.

The picker passes the following data along with your picked items if you filled them out:

locator the place within the work (e.g. page number)
prefix for stuff like “see …”
suffix for stuff after the citations
suppress author if you only want the year

However not all output formats support these. Pandoc and scannable cite are the richest ones, supporting all 4. MultiMarkdown supports none. The formatted- formats will ignore these. LaTeX supports all 4, in a way:

  • in the latex (natbib) format: if you choose suppress author for none or all of your items in a pick, you will get the citation as you would normally enter it, such as \cite{author1,author2}, or \citeyear{author1,author2}. If you use locator, prefix, suffix in any one of them, or you use suppress author for some but not for others, the picker will write them out all separate, like \cite[p. 1]{author1}\citeyear{author2}, as natbib doesn’t seem to have a good mechanism for combined citations that mix different prefixes/suffixes/locators.
  • in the biblatex format: suppress author is ignored unless the command is one of \cite, \autocite or \parencite and there is one items only, in which case the starred variant of the command is returned, which hides the author; for multiple items with locators, prefixes or suffixes, the s-affixed variant of the command is generated

Some of the formatters use abbreviated labels for the results if you include a locator. The defaults are:

locator label abbreviation
article art.
chapter ch.
subchapter subch.
column col.
figure fig.
line l.
note n.
issue no.
opus op.
page p.
paragraph para.
subparagraph subpara.
part pt.
rule r.
section sec.
subsection subsec.
Section Sec.
sub verbo sv.
schedule sch.
title tit.
verse vrs.
volume vol.

In your call to the CAYW URL, you can override the abbreviations by adding them to the query, e.g., page-picks will have no label, and Section-picks will get sec. rather than Sec..

The clipboard option can be used as a workaround for editors that haven’t gotten around to integrating this yet. If you use this option you will probably want to bind to a hotkey, either system-wide (which is going to be platform-dependent, I know AutoHotKey works for windows, for OSX Karabiner ought to do the job, and for Linux xbindkeys could do the job.

For example, if you call up, the Zotero citation picker will pop up. If you then select two items that happen to have cite keys adams2001 and brigge2002, then

  • the response body will be [#adams2001][][#brigge2002][], and
  • [#adams2001][][#brigge2002][] will be left on the clipboard

More of a gimmick than anything else, but if you add select=true, BBT will select the picked items in Zotero.

Playing around

For testing for other markdown formatters, you can construct simple references yourself, using the playground formatter, with parameters:

  • citeprefix, default empty, for text to put before the full citation.
  • citepostfix, default empty, for text to put after the full citation.
  • keyprefix, default empty, for text to put before each individual citekey
  • keypostfix, default empty, for text to put after each individual citekey
  • separator, default ,, for text to put between citekeys

Alternately, the json formatter will just give you the picks as JSON which you can turn into pretty much anything if you can code.

but if you need an extra format, just ask.

  1. For Juris-M, the port number 23119 must be replaced with 24119↩︎